Having launched VDeep restaurant in Leith at the end of February, the broadcaster, writer and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli has plans to extend his craft beer and curry concept. Sites are being considered in Glasgow and Dundee while Aberdeen, Yorkshire, London and even New York have been talked about.
‘We have to remind ourselves that we have not been open six weeks yet,’ smiles Hardeep. ‘Sometimes It feels like we have been open six months and sometimes it feels like six years. On other days, it feels like six minutes.’
The 5pm Dining blog sat down for a blether with HSK in his restaurant. Over the next few days, we’ll post a video of our chat. As a taster, here are a few of HSK’s thoughts on the experience of launching and working in VDeep.
HSK on cooking his own food:
The word authenticity was one I got hung up on. I wanted everything to be authentic. Then I had a conversation with Madhur Jaffrey and she asked me ‘What is authentic? Is authentic after the Moghuls came to Indian in the 1700s or before?’ That freed me.
So what we have on the menu here are home favourites for me. Stuff I have grown up with like dall makhani which we have at temple every Sunday. There are things like venison korma. My dad, grandfather and great grandfather used to go hunting deer in the Punjab so venison is a real speciality in our family.
HSK on combining his show biz career with being a restaurateur:
I have loved this more than anything I have done and I have hated this more than anything I have done. But it’s also very satisfying.
If I got to the point where this was 75% of what I do then I would be over the moon. It pulls together all the things I like: meeting people, conviviality, working with great folk, food and exceptional craft beer.
HSK on food as a communal experience:
If you go to the heart of my Sikh upbringing then on a Sunday we would go to temple and, after the service, every woman and man would eat together. The richest woman and the poorest man would share the same meal from the same type of plate while sitting together and that to me is what food ought to be about.
It is a shared experience. Our food and our drink is really a conduit to bringing together the people you care about and the people you love.
HSK on matching craft beer and curry:
The people who make craft beer are very passionate about it. Just as I am with my food. It was a no-brainer to bring them together.
The great thing about matching beer with Indian food is that it’s virgin territory. We don’t drink alcohol with food in India. Punjabis might drink a lot before the food and a lot after but seldom with it. We started pairing and testing. I thought we might find something that went with something else. In fact, it’s been mind-blowing to the extent that we have started using ales and beer in the food as well as creating dishes to go specifically with the beer.
HSK on his shows at this year’s Fringe:
My new show called is Big Mouth Strikes Again and that will be on at the Pleasance. It’s about the times that I have opened my big mouth and what happened next. I’ve also registered VDeep as a venue and we will have cooking and comedy lunches here. Leith has been very good to me. It’s the one part of Edinburgh that always feels like Glasgow to me so it will be good to have some shows here.