Food talk: Dipna Anand, celebrity curry chef

In Beyond Brilliant – her new cookbook – Dipna Anand sets out to show that Indian food can be tasty AND good for you at the same time. And if anyone can succeed in this mission, it’s Dipna Anand … As the third generation of a family of chefs, Dipna has cooking in her blood. For almost 40 years, her family’s restaurant, the Brilliant, has served traditional Punjabi cuisine to customers including Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Gordon Ramsay - who named the Brilliant in his ‘Best Restaurants’ TV series.

Dipna Anand took time out from the kitchen to share her life in food and why she wants to shake up the world of Indian cusine with Just About Food

How do you start your day?
When I wake up, I am not somone who jumps out of bed to get ready. Instead I stay laying down for an extra half hour and catch up with my emails and reply to any Twitter and Faceboook messages and  update my social media accounts. I think this is important because I am usually too busy to do so throughout the day. I then start getting ready and always eat breakfast (porridge with a banana) before heading to work.

Are you a keen cook at home?
I love cooking at home. That said I don’t cook at home all that often because my Mum is a super chef and cooks lavish meals for me and my brother on a daily basis. When I do get a chance to cook, I love cooking for my Mum because she is just as big a fan of my cooking as I am of hers. I also love experimenting and will try a few new dishes at home on my days off.

What was your childhood food like?
My childhood food was a real mixture. At home Mum used to make us pancakes, fish fingers, spaghetti bolognese, potato waffles and beans – that type of thing. However as a child at my family’s restaurant, all I used to eat was butter chicken, bhatura (fried bread) and shammi lamb kebabs.

Whose food do you trust the most?
You can never go wrong with salad:  I swear by the stuff. Any salad, so long as it is without tomatoes and peppers, is usually fine by me.

What was the best meal you’ve ever had and where was it?
That’s easy! My Mum’s chicken biryani (it tastes like no other chicken biryani in the world) at home.

What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Parmesan cheese ice-cream at the restaurant show. I was reluctant to try it at first but my Dad convinced me to give to a go. It was the weirdest, strangest thing I have eaten and yet, somehow!, it worked.

Have you ever had a dinner disaster?
No – and I hope I never do!

What ingredients put you off?
Peppers and raw tomatoes. I also really dislike pizza.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I would invite the Queen as she once declared that her favourite dish was chicken tikka masala. I know that if she ever came to my dinner party and tasted my chicken tikka masala, she would be more than impressed.

The plug…
My father has been running The Brilliant Restaurant in Southall now for almost 40 years and it has won many awards and accolades, including winning the title of Ramsays Best Restaurant for Channel 4. Some of the dishes on the menu and now in the book date back to over 65 years ago, during the time my grandfather ran The Brilliant Hotel, Nightclub and Restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya. When my father opened the restaurant here is 1975, it was only a 36 seat restaurant and fortunately today we have grown to a 250 seat restaurant. Not only are we a restaurant, but we also have our own outdoor catering service, together with the Brilliant Cookery school which runs on the weekends. We have now taken Brilliant to even superior heights by launching our first cook-book, Beyond Brilliantwhich includes over 40 recipes from Brilliant’s kitchens. In this book we reveal family recipes and secrets and share our knowledge with the world.

Thanks Dipna! Beyond Brilliant (£19.95; RMC Publishers) is out now