Romy Gill is the UK’s first British/Indian chef to become a restaurant owner in Gloucestershire, in 2013, aptly named ‘Romy’s Kitchen’. Although since closing, Chef Romy continues to be renowned for being a remarkable cook, food writer and broadcaster in the south-west England. Featured in shows such as BBC One’s Ready, Steady Cook and Sunday Brunch, Romy infuses her West Bengal heritage and British lifestyle in her cookery, showcasing the decadent flavours of traditional Indian cuisine in her dishes. Her outstanding cooking and services in the hospitality industry even took her to being appointed an MBE in 2016 during the late Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday Honours list.
You became the first ever female Indian chef and restaurant owner in the UK. Is this something you want to raise more awareness of for upcoming female chefs from different heritage backgrounds?
I wanted to share the food that I grew up eating. If you want anything in your life, never give up, find a way that you will be able to achieve. Supporting your family is very important. One thing I have always said is that if you help someone with whole heart, you’ll feel positive about yourself and that’s better than expecting the help back. Find a mentor who will help and guide you in hospitality.
Within your cooking you like to combine your heritage with British influence. Why is that?
As a Punjabi born in West Bengal, I grew up in a family where the emphasis was on education and respecting others – and living in an India that was not divided, we celebrated the festivals of all different religions. Since moving to the UK and opening my restaurant, for me it was always about supporting the local producers and cooking and combining the produce from here. Opening a restaurant and learning from other chefs is very important. I have had such good advice from many chefs and food writers.
When taking a break from cooking, what are your favourite things to do?
I love running, walking with my friends and reading.
Your current favourite cooking book?
My favourite books at the moment is Notes from Small Kitchen Island by Debora Robertson and Cooking by Jeremy Lee.
What is one piece of advice would you give to someone learning to cook?
Cooking is all about learning. Learning about food from different cultures is a way of connecting with others. Food has the power of sharing. Understand the spices; what each does to the food, mind and body.
Orange & cocoa cake
• 100g butter melted, extra to apply inside the cake tin
• 50ml butter milk
• 2 medium eggs
• Juice of two oranges and zest of one orange
• 200g dark muscovado sugar
• 100g plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 3 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1tsp Maldon salt
• 2Tbsp smooth peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 170°C, prepare a 20cm baking sheet, spread the butter, and then place right size baking sheet in the tin. Keep aside.
In a bowl add sugar, melted butter and whisk, then crack the eggs and beat the mixture all together. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, ½ tsp salt, peanut butter, juice of oranges, ½ tsp orange zest, and then combine properly.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spread evenly. Bake the cake for 25 minute (sometimes the ovens are different so until it is well risen).
Remove, leave the cake in the tin until cool. Carefully turn the cake out onto the wire pack and peel off the parchment.
Before serving sprinkle rest of the salt and orange zest over the cake.
Moong Bean Dal
Ingredients: Serves 6
• 250g moong beans
• 11/2 tsp Maldon salt
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 litre water plus 20ml extra
Ingredients for the tadka
• 4 tsp ghee
• 6 spring onions, chopped with greens
• 15g ginger, peeled and grated
• 2-3 green chillies, chopped (Birdeye or similar)
• 1 large tomato chopped
• 10g fresh coriander, chopped with stems
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 4 tsp natural yogurt
– Soak the moong beans for couple of hours or overnight. Wash and drain the water from the soaked beans. Add the beans to a medium-sized saucepan with the salt, turmeric and water. Cook the beans until soft for about 40 minutes on a medium heat, occasionally stirring.
– While the moong beans are cooking, make the tadka. Heat the ghee in a frying pan, once the ghee has melted, add chopped spring onions and cook for a minute. Add the grated ginger, chopped green chillies, cook for 3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, chopped coriander into the pan and cook for another 4 minutes. Lower heat, add yogurt, garam masala combine and add the tadka to the moong dal. Add water rest of the water to the pan, swirl and add the water to the dal.
– Mix, cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Leave to rest before eating with any flat bread or rice.
Hot & Spicy Whole Roast Chicken with sweet potato chips & leady salad
Roast Chicken – Serves 6
• 1.5kg whole chicken
• 2 tsp tandoori masala
• 1 tsp chilli powder
• 3 tsp Greek yoghurt
• 3 large cloves garlic, grated
• 4 tsp honey
• A few small stems of thyme
• ½ juice of lemon
• 5 tsp olive oil
• 1 ½ tsp Maldon salt (to taste)
Roasted Sweet Potato
• 6 medium size sweet potatoes, sliced in the middle
• 1 tsp Maldon salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp chilli flakes
• 1 tsp garlic granules
• 4 tsp olive oil
• 4 tsp honey
• Juice of ½ lemon
• ½ tsp Maldon salt
• ½ tsp crushed black pepper
• 4 tsp olive oil
• 2-3 packs of leafy salad
– In a bowl add tandoori masala, chilli powder Greek yogurt, grated garlic cloves, honey, thyme stems, the juice of half a lemon, oil and salt and whisk it together. Apply the paste to the whole chicken properly, leaving it in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours before roasting.
– After 2 hours take the marinated chicken out and leave in the room temperature while the oven is getting hot. Preheat the oven at 180°C. Place the chicken on a baking tray and cover the chicken with a foil, make sure to seal the tray on all the sides properly. Put the chicken in the oven and cook for one hour 30 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before eating.
– Serve with sweet roasted potatoes chips and leafy salad.
– Preheat oven at 180°C.
– While the oven is getting hot marinate the potatoes, and then layer them on the baking tray and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with a pre-packaged leafy salad from any supermarket. Just before serving make the dressing in a small jar. Add all of the ingredients to the jar, screw the lid on tight and shake vigorously. Then drizzle the dressing on the salad.
Lemon rice with peanuts & curry leaves
Ingredients: Serves 4-6
• 200g basmati rice
• 4 tsp ghee
• 8-10m fresh curry leaves
• 1 tsp black mustard
• 1½ tsp Maldon salt
• 1 tsp turmeric
• Juice of one lemon
• 75g toasted peanuts
– In a saucepan add water ½ tsp
salt and water, bring it to boil for 6-7 minutes on medium heat. Then drain the water and keep the rice aside.
– In a pan dry toast the peanuts on a low heat, until light brown. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. In the same pan add ghee, once ghee has melted add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. As soon as they start to pop add the toasted peanuts, rest of the salt, turmeric and mix. Tip in the rice mix and cook with a lid on for 5 minutes on low heat. Once warmed through add the lemon juice and serve hot as a side dish or on its own.