The aromas of curry and spices draw passersby into Jolly's Indian Bistro, where flickering candles and ambient music create an intimate atmosphere. In the kitchen, Chef Jolly Kumar, who learned to cook from local dhaba chefs during his childhood in New Delhi, prepares fragrant masalas and meaty kebabs in a traditional tandoor oven. Bartenders concoct tropical beverages and pour sweet wines to complement Chef Kumar's spicy sauces, fresh chutneys, and savoury paneer, which were showcased in Vancouver 24 Hour. Ornate iron sconces cast shadows across colourful ceiling drapes and floral, latticed wall panels, providing elegant surroundings to match the refined flavours of Kumar's upscale Indian cuisine.
Working in a sweltering kitchen for hours at a time can be a struggle, but Chef Tracy Rowand has spent more than a decade doing just that. Since graduating with honors from Dubrulle Culinary Institute in 1995, Chef Rowand has been a mainstay of the Vancouver food industry. Currently, she helms Taste to Savour Catering, taking fresh, seasonal ingredients and turning them into customized spreads for weddings, corporate events, and weight-lifting competitions for tables. Sample menus stand as a tribute to Rowand’s training and talent, brimming with creative dishes such as mussels in green curry broth, salmon and chive fritters, and grilled lamb crostini with artichoke puree. Rowand also recently expanded her enterprise with a café, where visitors can sample plates of quiche, naan pizza, and other unique nibbles.
Part sports bar, part restaurant, Desi 2 Go Pizza & Curry’s amalgam of East and West is the brainchild of Chef Jazz Grewal. Trained in restaurants and hotels in India, Grewal draws upon his experience to oversee a vast menu of familiar Indian eats served amid the glow of flat-screen televisions and flowing taps. The roster of 12 beers on tap includes Stella, Sapporo, Guinness, 1664, and their own house brew called Desi Lager. From a British flag to a large drum tantalizingly out of reach on a shelf above, the interior emanates an ambiance of worldliness.
You could say that the art of food preparation is in chef Manish Rawat‘s blood. An India native, his culinary passion started early on by observing his father’s restaurant and catering business. That experience formed the kind of chef he is today: one who is passionate about artful cuisine and the lengths to which he can bend flavours. That’s nowhere more evident than in the way his kitchen staff at Chef's Kebab blends herbs and spices to craft his extensive menu of vegetarian and meat-based entrees and tandoor-baked breads.
But dinner at Chef’s Kebab is a treat for the other senses, too. The restaurant’s use of white plates makes the chef’s colourful food pop, whether it’s the ochre glow of a cashew curry with lamb or the vibrant green of a cumin-spinach puree with farmer's cheese. Inside the tandoor oven, skewered black tiger prawns, peppercorn-flavoured lamb, and yogurt-marinated jack fruit might be found roasting over an open flame or perfecting their tan lines.
Pradeep is in the kitchen of Spice Up Indian Cuisine, putting the finishing touches on an order of his signature nine-bean curry. He leans over the stove, inhaling deeply as the rich fragrance of ginger, garlic, and roasting spices rises up from the bubbling pan. It's ready. Gingerly, he ladles the tender lamb and plump beans into a glistening white bowl, then tops the dish off with a sprinkle of crisp green herbs for good measure.
Pradeep spends most of his days in this manner, folding fresh ingredients into the traditional dishes of his culinary heritage alongside his wife, Reshma. The duo prepare their dishes fresh to order, from their creamy butter chicken to their fiery prawn vindaloo. They bake up batches of naan each day, brushing the bread with freshly cut garlic and rosemary. The chefs even extend their culinary expertise toward a variety of vegan specialties—completely free of meat, dairy, and chicken, duck, or dragon eggs. The colourful dishes stand out amid the dining room's white tablecloths and vibrant tapestries.
Chefs at Diwan Restaurant source quality ingredients for their menu of traditional Mediterranean fare. They skewer halal meats for kabobs, and gather fresh produce for vegetarian-friendly dishes such as tabbouleh and fattoush. They also swirl all their sautés with vegetable and olive oil, which spread across their cooking pans with a gentle push from the ghost of Sir Isaac Newton.