ONCE 30-year-old Rahat Tandon steps into his kitchen, the world outside ceases to exist. Cooking is what Tandon has always wanted to pursue, not as a hobby, but as an integral part of his life. Growing up in Amritsar, surrounded by a culinary culture and food heritage that’s famous across the world was a natural inspiration, as was his home kitchen, which dished out delicacies day after day.
“I always wanted a quaint restaurant and café, which served food that would remind us of our homes, the treats we had tasted and savoured as children, simple, authentic, without the frills and fuss,” shares Tandon. But life had other plans, as after college he joined a bank and then a food consultancy firm, till one day he decided to take the plunge and follow his heart, opening his home kitchen Hall Gate, Taste of Amritsar, in Sector 34, the idea being to bring the classic flavours to your plate.
“From day one, I knew I would do something that would be something original, food that I can cook myself and from home, so the essence of the dishes, recipes handed down from one generation to the next would not be diluted. Chandigarh was the place where I knew this cuisine would be appreciated,” adds Tandon.
So, on the menu are only 25 dishes, with options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, inspired by the famous dishes of the city of Amritsar, with the name of Rahat’s endeavour inspired by the Hall Gate, the entrance to the area of old Amritsar, where you can relish the famous food of the city.
The dishes on the menu, be it a variety of Bun Tikkis, the classic aloo bun tikki to the all-time favourite mutton shammi kebab, the butter paneer, flavourful tawa chicken, mutton tikka curry, malai soya chaap tikka, butter chicken. Each recipe, says Tandon, has been taken from either his own home or people who have been cooking the delicacies for decades.
“The shammi kebab recipe comes from our cook who has been making it for the past 30 years, and be it the mince, the masalas, the way to cook, we just don’t tamper with the original. Another of my favourite is the chicken champ, which is delicately flavourful. The gravies are our strength, as are the marinations,” he says.
Original masalas from Amritsar, fresh ingredients and food cooked in small batches, Tandon says he uses traditional utensils, tawas and slow cooking for his dishes to dish out honest, homely meals and shares one of his favourite recipes.