Originating in Kolkata, Soho restaurant FATT PUNDIT’s menu takes inspiration from the unique cuisine that was invented when the Hakka people migrated to India from the Chinese province of Canton, bringing with them their culinary riches. Incorporating traditional Chinese cooking techniques with the spices of India to create something both new yet familiar, Indo Chinese was born, and is now a prevalent part of urban Indian cuisine. Through FATT PUNDIT, chef and restaurateur Huzefa Sajawal champions this culinary amalgam, bringing momos and manchurian to London. To learn more about the project, Something Curated spoke with Sajawal at his Soho restaurant.
Something Curated: Can you give us some insight into your background and how you entered this field?
Huzefa Sajawal: All my education has been in hospitality and from a young age I was learning the art of cooking from my family. Later on, when I moved to London I completed my masters in hospitality. I got my first job at JW Marriott Grosvenor House London where my professional schooling was completed and where I learnt everything I know about restaurants.
SC: How did the idea for FATT PUNDIT come about?
HS: FATT PUNDIT was always a dream project. We wanted the people of London to taste the amazing flavours of Indo Chinese cuisine, so we decided to open FATT PUNDIT in Soho, where people of all cultures could experience this tasty journey with us.
SC: Can you tell us more about Indo Chinese cuisine, and its origins in Kolkata?
HS: Originating from Kolkata, this unique cuisine was invented when the Hakka people migrated to India from the Chinese province of Canton, bringing with them their culinary treasures. Incorporating traditional Chinese cooking techniques with the spices of India to create something both new yet familiar, Indo Chinese is now an integral part of Indian cuisine.
SC: How would you describe your approach to sourcing?
HS: Our menu evolves with the seasons and sourcing plays a very important role in menu conception. For example the kid goat momo was initially introduced for trial however we were able to source the best quality kid goat from James Whetlor, founder of Cabrito. This helped us keep the kid goat on the menu for all seasons and we’re planning new dishes around kid goat meat. All Cabrito kids are a by-product of the dairy industry and would have in the past been euthanized shortly after birth. In a world of dwindling resources and rising food prices Cabrito believe this cannot be justified. They now have a network of farms producing high quality meat from a previously wasted resource. We also focus on resourcing halal meat from the best butchers out there as the demand for good halal meat has been on the rise.
SC: What do you consider when it comes to the presentation of dishes?
HS: The most important aspect of plating of a dish is the flavour points. We make sure everything served on the plate has a meaning from flavour to the way it looks. There is nothing more rewarding than watching someone truly savour the food you’ve served them.
SC: Do you have any favourite ingredients that you regularly work with?
HS: A lot of our cooking involves the use of Indian spices and herbs. For example we use 28 spices to make our signature dish of lamb chops. It is amazing how all these flavours come together to create something so balanced and delicious.
SC: What do you think is unique about London’s food offering?
HS: The creativity and skills displayed in the food industry in London is second to none. You work with people from different cultures and the passion and their desire to be creative and the willingness to learn just amazes us.