Almost a month to the day, Laura and I for Valentines Day went to Pure Indian Cooking restaurant. This restaurant is owned by Husband and Wife team of Faheem Vanoo and Chef Shilpa Dandekar.
Following from my meal and a break, I contacted Chef Shilpa for an interview to understand what it is like to work with your partner, see what her inspirations are and her top spots in London.
ABOUT: With a love of cooking from an early age, Chef-Patron Shilpa Dandekar honed her skills as a Commis Chef with Indian’s famed Taj hotel group. Along with her husband Faheem Vanoo, who also trained with Taj, she arrived in the UK and immediately took to cooking Modern British food in various pubs before embarking as a Sous Chef at London’s renowned Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Quilon. Following on from Quilon, Shilpa moved on to working with the legendary Raymond Blanc OBE, with whom she was part of the opening team for the very first Brasserie Blanc, before being promoted by him to become the Head Chef. Subsequently, in 2014, Shilpa and Faheem opened a successful takeaway and home delivery unit in south west London before launching Pure Indian Cooking in Fulham.
Who was the main inspiration/instigator behind you opening up your own restaurant?
Pure originally started as a takeaway business in a location near to where it’s at now as a restaurant. Our aim was to serve good Indian food in the south west of London, as there were no good takeaways here. We soon realised that our cooking was starting to get recognition for its quality and flavour. We were also getting a lot of requests for home deliveries. The popularity of the takeaway gave us an immense boost because it was always our dream to start up a restaurant. So when we got an opportunity to open one in Fulham we pulled out all the stops as it were and really went for it.
What would you define as “pure” Indian cooking?
I think everyone has their own definition of purity. For me it’s cooking which is couched in tradition but after that I want to have the freedom to put my own spin on it and that can vary as to how much and which particular component of the dish. I personally also like to make the cooking as refined and flavoursome as possible yet at the same time also healthy.
Where do you see the restaurant in five years time?
We would like to build a name for Pure for its original cooking and by far the best Indian food in the Fulham and surrounding south west areas of London.
When was the last time Faheem cooked for you?
Faheem and I laugh about this but I actually keep him away from any kind cooking – even at home - because he’s yet to really learn about such things. He always says you should do what you are good at and he’s good at the managerial level at the restaurant’s front of house and I’m more comfortable in the kitchen. But he is always there for constructive feedback and we have created dishes which he is sceptical about whereas I will say it’s well balanced.
Why Putney Bridge/Fulham?
From the time we arrived in the UK, we had always stayed around London’s south west, areas like Clapham, Wimbledon, Southfields and so on, so we wanted to do something of our own from where we started our life together.
Which restaurants are in your top 5 for London?
It’s difficult to say as there are so many good restaurants in London in terms of both food and service. However, I would select the following as my top five:
Thank you so much Shilpa and Faheem. Firstly for good food and secondly for this lovely interview. I am sure the success will continue and if you focus on that purity then the customers and I will be back for more. A big thank you also to Consultant Humayun Hussain who helped with setting this interview up.