We learn how to make the perfect curry from Lanterns' head chef Kundan Kanwat. Now listen up...
Time Out Bahrain staff
How long have you worked at Lanterns? For 13 years. The restaurant first opened in 1988, and everyone that works here has done so for a long time. It means we know our customers well, and we have many regulars – some of them will visit twice a week.
When did you first start cooking? It was around 1990. I learned in Delhi, where I worked at a big restaurant called Handi. I also worked at restaurants in Mumbai.
What are the most popular dishes you make? We specialise in north Indian dishes. Some of our most popular are rogan josh, chicken jalfrezi, chicken masala. All of these are popular in the region too. Chicken makhani is something we are famous for, it’s quite mild and can be made with a tomato or cream butter sauce. And there is lentil dahl makhani, with black lentils and red kidney beans – that is very popular too.
How is your kitchen equipped? We have two types of oven – one is the clay oven, which is used for barbecuing or making bread. It uses charcoal instead of gas. And I use a normal burner as well.
What spices do you use? All the usual ones – chilli powder, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom. The difference is in how we use them.
What desserts do you make? Our menu features many favourite Indian desserts – ras malai, which is homemade cottage cheese, deep fried in syrup and served with reduced milk; zulab juman, which is a milk and flour dumpling, deep fried and soaked in syrup; kulfi, which is Indian ice cream; and carrot halwa, which is carrot with ghee and cashew nut.
How does the food you make at home differ to what is cooked in the restaurant? At home it is a bit different, a little more simple – just dahl and chicken, some pan-fried bread and vegetables. Home style and restaurant style are very different.
How long does the food in the restaurant take to prepare? The kitchen is open from 10am-3pm, while we open the restaurant for lunch from noon-3pm. In the evening work in the kitchen starts again at 6pm to open the restaurant at 7pm. We come in early to carve the chicken and fish and make the sauces. Everything is made fresh.
Is there a big team in the Lanterns kitchen? There are four chefs, including one who makes the continental food – seafood or steak, grilled meats and stir fry. We like the fact that we can offer something for everybody.
What is a good cooking tip for readers trying to make a curry? You need to have the basic ingredients – Indian spices, fresh coriander leaves, fresh ginger, butter, some chilli. It depends how spicy you like it, but with these ingredients you can cook the Indian way.
Serves 1 Ingredients 250g boneless chicken (the legs work best for this dish) Plain yoghurt Tomato paste Coriander powder Cumin powder Chilli powder White pepper powder Garlic and ginger paste Sugar Cooking oil 70g cashew nut paste 15ml cream 5g fresh coriander 5g ginger juliennes 5g butter 15g salt
Method • Marinate the chicken with yoghurt, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, white pepper powder, garlic and ginger paste, salt and oil for around five to six hours. Cook in a clay oven, if available.
• Combine all of the ingredients for the makhani sauce (tomato paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder, white pepper powder, garlic and ginger paste, sugar, salt, oil) into a food mixer. To make the cashew nut paste, put cashew nuts and a little water in the mixer.
• Place a saucepan on medium-high heat, then add the butter, makhani sauce, cashew nut paste, marinated chicken, cream and salt to taste. Cook for three-five minutes. Transfer into a serving bowl. Garnish with cream, coriander and ginger. Lanterns, Budaiya Highway (17 590 591). Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Ramadan opening evenings only, with dinner buffet every day for BD5 net per person in addition to a la carte.