There’s wry wit in Talli Joe’s drunken-dude-referencing name, its canny region-roving cocktail list, and the Shaftesbury Avenue restaurant’s bright, bold decor.
But good-natured head chef Sameer Taneja is deadly serious when it comes to serving up authentic Indian food; exposing London diners to little-known specialities they tend to fall hard for at first taste. 2016 marked the year of the venue’s birth, but what else did it mean for its main man?
Your highlight of the year – and why it was so?
Having Time Out nominate our black gajar halwa as one of the Top 10 Dishes of 2016 – this solidified Talli Joe as a force to reckon with within the industry.
Also – and this one was actually so humbling – having the 2017 Michelin Guide recognise us as a recommendation, despite us having been open for just over six weeks when the listings were finalised. That was very big for us!
Favourite Indian place you ate at?
I can’t pick just one! I have to say Cinnamon Kitchen – the pheasant tikka was incredible. And I have to mention Inito. Try the keema pao there.
Favourite non-Indian place you ate at?
Without a doubt, Pierre Koffmann. His pigs’ trotters and pistachio soufflé are both iconic dishes, and are just delicious. Wow.
The fellow South Asian foodies who’ve done great things?
Asma Khan, founder of Darjeeling Express, and Cinnamon group chef Vivek Singh.
The Indian dish you’ve cooked the most this year?
Our bone marrow dish, nihari nalli. I’ve cooked it more times than I’d care to know!
Your 2017 plans?
Our big goal is to expand Talli Joe. That’s the next dream.
Who would you crown your Indian chef of the year?