Where did you train to become a chef?
I worked in the kitchen of the Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi for 14 years. I learned to be a chef there. When my family moved to Seattle, I opened up Banjara, which was an Indian restaurant located at the top of Queen Anne for seven years. We've been in this location for four years now.
Are customers dining on the secret Indian recipes of the Sheraton Hotel?
I create my own recipes, which change every six months or so. Our dishes are a combination of traditional Indian cuisine and flavors, combined with input from our customers. For instance, we prepare scallop dishes, which most Indian restaurants don't serve, and we also serve wine. Authentic Indian cuisine uses a lot of nuts, like pistachios and cashews. We stopped serving them in many of our dishes because some of our customers are allergic, or health conscious. I talk to my customers and find out what they like and don't like, and from there I modify my recipes. Every day is a learning process.
What deliciousness am I smelling?
Fresh spices. We grind our spices every morning for the best possible flavor, and prepare all of the elements of each meal ourselves, right down to the chutney. This is also something that many other Indian restaurants don't do—they'll buy their chutney premade, for example—and it makes a big difference in taste.
What is your favorite dish at the moment?
The coconut salmon or the mango chicken. Both are very popular.