Chef de Cuisine Amninder Sandhu

Taj Lands End, Mumbai

Chef Amninder Sandhu embarked on her journey with Taj Lands End in 2015 as the Sous Chef at Masala Bay. Capturing the intricacies and nuances attached with ethnic Indian cuisine, Chef Sandhu is known for reviving authentic, intense and subtle flavors with every meal she brings to the table.

Chef Amninder Sandhu began her journey as a management trainee at the Taj Group of Hotels where she extensively trained with six very popular Indian cuisine restaurants. Further on her journey, she amassed enormous experience and mastered culinary skills by playing diverse roles at different properties. Right from her role as Chef-de-cuisine where she was required to grow ingredients due to its unavailability, to managing four restaurants as the Corporate Chef to setting up café outlets in various parts of the city, Chef Amninder Sandhu brings with her innumerable insights, in vernacular cuisine. An entrepreneur with a vision, Chef Sandhu has also successfully run a restaurant of her own make and taste. Her cooking style reflects a deep understanding of regional influences which are exquisitely unified in her recipes and presentation alike.

Chef Amninder Sandhu’s impressive culinary career began right after her completion of Culinary Arts & Kitchen Administration at the Taj Group of Hotels, India and Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad, India, University of Huddersfield (U.K). She further advanced on to complete her Masters Certification in Cake Decoration at the reputed Knightsbridge PME Ltd. School of Cake Decorating & Confectionery Arts, Enfield, England.

A gourmet enthusiast with exceptional culinary expertise, Chef Amninder Sandhu also enjoys live concerts and travelling to new geographies. With quirky flavours and tantalizing aromas, she brings to the table, delectable cuisine offering refined traditional zests.

Q & A with Chef de Cuisine Amninder Sandhu

Having extensively trained and specialised in Indian cuisine across a number of Taj kitchens in India, Chef Amninder is the creator of magic at Masala Bay. Her unique style effortlessly translates on to your plate.

Here’s what she has to say about her life’s experiences.

What were the main influences that made you interested in food and cooking as a career?
Cooking is more than just a profession; it is my true passion. I always knew that being a chef was my true calling, and I sincerely enjoy being behind the kitchen counters very much. Having said that, as a chef, I discovered the added joy of seeing the smiling faces of guests as they revel in the dishes we serve at Masala Bay. 

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen and what is your favourite dish from childhood?
Watching my mother cook was always a source of inspiration for me. Her home-cooked Mutton Curry continues to remain my all-time favourite dish. To me cooking is all about togetherness, and this stems from my childhood days. On holidays, and lazy Sunday afternoons, it was never about just digging into a dish, but was also about the anticipation as the pressure cooker sounded off, and the aromas infused my home with smells which are still etched in my memories. Even today, this dish is very close to my heart, and it always finds a special place on any menu I curate. 

What would be your favourite dish to cook?
While growing up in Jorhat, Assam, as a kid, I remember eating this absolutely amazing chicken dish from Hotel Eastern. The man behind this restaurant Mr. Joginder Singh was extremely passionate about food and hotels and owned an upbeat hotel back in the 80’s in a remote destination like Jorhat. The hotel boasted of Taj Mahal Mosaic work on one wall, wooden flooring, and comfortable couches. He would travel to Hyderabad, Punjab and Delhi and hand pick his team. They called this dish “chicken butter masala” and the experience till date is inexplicable.

The whole city of Jorhat vouches for Eastern’s chicken butter masala till date. As luck would have it I’m the only person who has their recipe and till date remains my favourite dish to cook.

And what’s more, this is served at Masala Bay. Ask for this one special-to-my heart dish the next time you dine at Masala Bay. 

A cuisine that you want to learn…

Your secret to great food…
Fresh local produce. Starting with the right ingredients is half the battle won. 

The last cookbook you bought….
Modernist cuisine: The Art and science of cooking by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet. 

A culinary show or movie you love to watch…or what would you like to do in your free time
Master Chef Australia. 

Your guilty pleasure…
Baby back ribs and cheesy fries. 

How would you describe your restaurant to a first time customer?
Unpretentious traditional North Indian food. 

How your menu is designed, what kind of research goes into its preparation, can you walk us through the process?
The current trend is traditional, artisanal food, which finds its roots in authenticity. As of 2016, we at Masala Bay are seeing an increasing trend for regional cuisines. Many of the recipes we employ at the restaurant have been passed on for generations, which capture the essence of authentic Indian flavours, and are backed by a lot of research. Guests are not only looking for delicious food on a plate; they want to know the story the food tells, which we narrate at Masala Bay through our food and the same has been incorporated in our menu. We do a tasting with our management team. Then, Invite our regular guests and take feedback from them as well. 

Your recommendations at the restaurants at Taj Lands End / Masala Bay...
Sunday Mutton Curry, Dhabewala Murg, Lasooni Palak, Burrah Kebab and Nimona Tikki. 

4-5 personal tips that you would like share with our readers:
I. When cooking your mood plays a great role so make sure you are happy when you cook and it will reflect in the final dish.
ii. Never compromise on the quality of ingredients
iii. The love and care taken in an elaborate recipe is what makes great food.
iv. Try till you get it right and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t cook.