Last November, when unassuming, diminutive Indian restaurant Gunpowder opened its decidedly non-Desi-looking doors just a stone’s throw from Brick Lane and its ‘curry mile’, the prospect of it attaining ‘smash-hit’ status seemed substantially less than certain.
A year down the line, the young venue and its similarly-youthful team proudly accepted a Michelin Bib Gourmand, cementing the venue’s status as every jot as hot as those Nagaland pork ribs. Founder Harneet Baweja talks business successes and culinary pleasures…
Your highlight of the year – and why it was so?
There have been many great highlights from our first year of business; but receiving our Bib Gourmand from Michelin is definitely up there as one of the best moments.
Favourite Indian place you ate at?
I really enjoyed Jikoni, a new opening from ‘Cook in Boots’, Ravinder Bhogal, where dishes are influenced by her Indian, British and Kenyan heritage. I would highly recommend the mutton scrag end pie – an Indian spin on classic, comforting Shepherd’s pie.
Favourite non-Indian place you ate at?
2016 has been a great year for food in London, with a multitude of new and exciting dishes out there. The short rib curry at Thai barbecue restaurant Kiln and some great dishes at Pidgin have been amongst my highlights. But I would say that my number one spot this year would be awarded to the roast fillet of red mullet with radicchio at Perilla, an elegant neighbourhood restaurant in Newington Green.
The fellow Indian foodies who’ve done great things?
I have enjoyed following Arun Kapil, founder of spice company Green Saffron. He travels the country sharing his expertise on Indian spices, and has an astonishing knowledge of Indian flavours. Also, Nisha Katona – founder of Mowgli Street Food – has been one to watch this year, expanding her restaurant empire beyond the original Liverpool site.
The Indian dish you’ve cooked the most this year?
When I’m at home, I enjoy cooking the sigree mustard broccoli that we have on the menu at Gunpowder. It’s really simple to prepare, but bursts with authentic Indian flavours.
Who would you crown your Indian chef of the year?
Our head chef Nirmal Save, who was instrumental in us receiving a Bib Gourmand, and who continues to create authentic, interesting Indian dishes. Also Ravinder Bhogal – her restaurant Jikoni has a beautiful, welcoming interior, and she has created a menu which expertly combines flavours which tell the story of her heritage.