Mementoes and vital culinary tools from India take pride of place in Vivek Singh’s kitchen ...
We keep threatening to move house, but instead seem to keep tinkering with it. We live in New Cross, in southeast London. We like to entertain, to fill the kitchen up with people, so we opened the room up and put in a glass ceiling to flood it with light.
The tiles (1) do create an impact, don’t they? They’re from Fired Earth and reminded us of tiles we used to buy in Jaipur. The rest of the house was done in a quite austere, Scandi style but our designer gave into our wishes to have this noisy splashback.
Every Indian house has a tava (2), no matter how far you are from home. Ours is 18 years old. When my wife’s mum first visited us in London, she rightly assumed we’d be bereft of one, and so she brought this. It’s been in service since. We probably use it three times a week for lots of different parathas, rotis, chapatis ... The quality of a tava is defined by the thickness of the iron and the curvature – they’re ever so slightly dipped in the centre.
The brass pestle and mortar (3) is the one piece of kit I take everywhere. Brass doesn’t require elaborate cleaning or take on any smells – for dried spices this comes into its own and creates a wonderful texture.
It’s become a ritual to buy a knife from Jay Patel of the Japanese Knife Company each year. Here are two of them (4). I find sharpening with a finegrade stone (5) very therapeutic.
Like a tava, every Indian home will have a masala dabba (6). Usually it’ll contain seven spices, seasonings or condiments. Most commonly: salt in the centre, and around it, turmeric, red chilli powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, and garam masala. We have dried fenugreek leaves in ours and our family garam masala, which probably uses less cumin and coriander and more aromatics such as cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper, and also rose petals, giving it a lighter colour than is common.
I love making biryanis in the Le Creuset pot (7). I made a lamb one once when my mother was here. She said it was the best thing she’d eaten in all her life! For all my restaurants and books, that was still momentous.
Roasted chickpea flour (8) is one of my favourite things; it’s a rustic ingredient found in the east of India, close to Varanasi. It keeps for a long time, and is probably the only ingredient that can be made into a three-course meal. My dad used to make doughballs with it, which we’d have with spiced yellow lentil relish.
To my left is Coco the cockapoo. She’s balancing on a chair, terrified.
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