Rajesh comes with 5-star pedigree having worked as executive chef at the world-renowned, Thai Pavilion in India. He’s now working his magic at Soho Wala at The Courthouse in London
Why did you become a chef?
My mother was definitely a primary influence. Seeing her cook incredible food food,that lead to developing and love for different ingredients and the way they work together to form something wonderful; so decided to study hotel management and specialised in all things culinary.
Having worked at the world-renowned Pavilion in India, what brought you to London?
London has always held my interests for its diversity. You can find any flavour you want here and I really wanted to be a part of that. It’s a very competent market to show your skills and the perfect place to showcase your talents, which is incredibly important for developing your career.
What are the main influences behind your menu at Soho Wala?
Childhood memories play a huge part in what I create at Soho Wala; the total variance of flavours found in the fragrant street foods I grew up with pair taste with nutritional value, and my time in Bombay gave me an invaluable insight into how to communicate an authentic flavour.
Highlights on the autumn menu?
At Soho Wala I ensure that we always add new dishes seasonally, with weekly specials as per the Indian festivities. Coming up is a sharing Indian banquet for families of twos and fours for the upcoming Diwali festival. Also in line is momos (steamed dumpling), which always give a warming, homely feel.
I have a couple but I definitely favour completing my Chicken Biryani; it’s a classic that I find a lot of people still manage to get wrong! My Kaali Dal has also become one of my favourites; it has a wholesome quality that warms to a lot of people – I always enjoy putting it together.
There are a few as I like to use them to impart lots of balanced flavours in the food that I make. Cumin offers a sharpness that is slightly hot, the zest of ginger always works for a more dramatic flavouring, while the nutty citrus coriander tends to evoke a familiar, satisfying sensation when used appropriately.
Favourite kitchen equipment?
Always, a Tandoor (charcoal clay oven) – I love how it allows for cooking techniques that are centuries old to be brought into modern kitchens. I can communicate flavours and recipes that have transcended time and present authentically to modern diners, it’s a truly great thing.
I genuinely believe that the right sounds can affect your mood, which can then transpose a good vibration into the food you are preparing. I don’t have a soundtrack in the kitchen as such, but when I am cooking I always lipsync to some old Bollywood melodies, always keeps me happy!
What do you like coming when you are at home?
I’m a family man, through and through. Coming back home I would want to be with close family and spend time with them, listening to their stories of how their day has been before enjoying meals together
Words of wisdom to your younger self?
I would definitely tell myself to work hard, never give up, learn the best techniques of cooking from a thorough professional, and always love what you do. It sounds obvious but you really can’t go wrong if you live by those words.
What would you be doing if not a chef?
I toyed with the idea of becoming an engineer before becoming a Chef. I definitely would’ve enjoyed it but every day I remember that cooking comes first, every time!
Soho Wala, Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7HL
Save 50% until 30 November
To celebrate the launch of a new dish, MOMO (Indian Steamed Dumplings), Soho Wala would like to offer all Edit Food & Travel readers 50% off their lunch bill (drinks not included) until November 30th 2019. To claim your discount quote EDIT1 upon booking.