Chef Balvinder Pal Singh Lubana comes with 13 years of richly layered experience in the hospitality industry. With his roots in Lucknow, he says he discovered his love and passion for cooking at a very young age, aka in his mother’s kitchen. Today, he is well known for his ability to assemble dishes, plate-finishing touches and exquisite creations. His last assignment was at Renaissance Hotel in Lucknow as an Executive Chef. Currently, he heads the kitchen brigade of Courtyard by Marriott Gurugram. When he is not adorning his chef’s coat, he loves to spend time with his family cooking delicacies, watching movies and travelling.
He shares two of his favourite recipes with us.
“In my version of butter chicken, we are very particular about the tomatoes that we use to make our makhani gravy. We make sure that the tomatoes are fresh, luscious and properly matured. While finishing the gravy, we add just the right amount of smoke flavour which will always leave you wanting more.”
BUTTER CHICKEN / CHOOZA KHAAS MAKHANI
1/2 cup plain yoghurt (hung for 12 hours), full fat
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Kashmiri chili paste
1 tsp black salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground, roasted cumin
1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
750 g chicken thigh (without skin)
50 ml mustard oil
2 + 2 tbsp ghee
4 pcs green cardamom
2 bay leaf
1 kg fresh tomato
50 gms cashewnut
1 cup fresh cream
1 tbsp honey
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Kashmiri chili paste (optional)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Take a thick bottom pan, add ghee, green cardamom and bay leaf.
Add fresh tomato and sauté them till they release their own water.
Once they release their own water, cover pot with lid and cook till tomato is soft and loses raw smell.
Once tomatoes are completely cooked, strain and make a puree.
Take a fresh thick bottom pot and add 2 tbsp ghee, ginger-garlic paste, Kashmiri chili paste (the authentic one, not the dark red version) and cook for 5 minutes.
Add tomato puree and cook for 30 minutes on a slow fire.
Take a live charcoal and put in a steel bowl and smoke makhani gravy with ghee and fenugreek leaves.
Add salt and honey to balance the sweet and sour taste of tomato.
Make a paste like marinate with all the ingredients and marinade chicken thigh (without skin).
Keep marinated chicken for 4 hours to absorb the flavour.
Cook chicken tikka in a charcoal tandoor.
You can cook chicken on skillet as well.
Finishing of Butter Chicken:-
Take butter in pan, add ginger juliennes, slit green chili and chicken tikka and sauté them for 2 minute.
Add makhani gravy and simmer for 8-10 minutes
Finish with fresh cream, butter and fenugreek powder
Garnish with coriander leaves.
“Being from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow, the one thing I have learnt about food is - you need to make sure that your dish has the divine combination of consistency and taste. This is the secret of cooking a dish that everyone will devour. I understand the delicacy of flavours and the nuances that one needs to maintain. Having spent countless years close to food, my motive while cooking is to put soul in my cooking, and only then will you be able to create a delectable dish”, says Chef Lubana.
ALOO TOKRI CHAAT
For Potato Basket
2 large potatoes, peeled
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
Oil for deep frying
1/4 cup boiled potatoes
1/2 cup boiled yellow peas
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Coriander leaves, chopped
Mint and Coriander Chutney
Gur aur Saunth ki Chutney
Finely chopped ginger
Finely chopped seedless green chili
Black salt (to taste)
Degi chili powder
Black pepper powder to taste
Roasted cumin powder
For Potato Baskets
Wash the potatoes and peel off the skin, grate the potatoes thickly.
Soak grated potatoes in ice cold water for 15-20 minutes.
Strain grated potatoes completely and pat dry with kitchen towel.
Add salt and turmeric powder and mix well.
Spread potatoes evenly covering the base and sides of strainer, cover with another tea strainer completely.
Heat the oil in kadai and immerse strainer into the oil. Deep fry till the potato basket turns golden brown.
Remove the top strainer and unmold the potato basket gently and carefully.
How to Build the Aloo Tokri Chaat
In a plate, place the Aloo Basket. Add crushed bhalla, papri, potatoe, yellow peas. Add gur aur saunth ki chutney, green chutney and sweet yogurt with ginger and chill.
Sprinkle spice mix, pomegranate seed, besan sev, and coriander.