Amrik and Ron met in a Notting Hill cafe. Amrik had the clear vision that he wanted to create a modern brand producing clean healthy Indian food, they put their heads together and Holyfood was born.
Amrik was concerned that pukka indian food was in regression and was afraid that by the time his children were grown up its roots would be gone. Using saag as an example I understood what he meant by this meant; saag in northern India is a dish using mustard leaf, spinach and other greens cooked slowly along with spices, now what we take to be saag is purely spinach based. Generic norms become widely accepted and the origins disappear.
Sauce based curries that we are overly familiar with is one such example of this normalisation. Your run-of-the-mill curry house serves boiled meat in generic sauces pepped up with various other elements & spice combos. Kris Dhillon wrote a fascinating book 'The Curry Secret: Indian Restaurant Cooking at Home' (Elliot Right Way Books, April 2002) it unveils the secrets of the basic curry sauce. While most of us, myself included, find this approach to Indian cooking delicious it is not what Holyfood are about. They aim to revert this practise and look back to a slower more home-grown way of doing things.
Amrik and Ron do not come from a food background and to them this is a godsend, instead of bounding about the kitchen in a cheffy manner they enlist the help of seasoned professionals to come in with the ultimate recipies, this is then tried, tested and tested again until it hits the spot. The team of six (soon to be nine) cooks then learn the dishes from scratch; while this may not be a standard approach the aim of it is to turn out food that sticks closely to the brand without external dilution.
I adore this apparently honest approach and admire their enthusiasm but how does it stand up to the taste test? Find out in the next post…