Ready, steady, cook with Hardeep Singh Kohli

A FULL working kitchen will dominate the stage of Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre on Sunday, which can mean only one thing, Celebrity Masterchef finalist Hardeep Singh Kohli is back in town.

Following the success of Chat Massala, Kohli returns with a new show, and a challenge for local takeaways.

In Indian Takeaway, the broadcaster and comic is on a mission to find Edinburgh and Musselburgh’s best Indian takeaway. Having chosen one, with the help of his audience, Kohli will then order a carry out live on stage, for delivery to the theatre.

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With the clock ticking he’ll then “cook a delicious curry from scratch”, inspired by the recipes of his mum and gran, hopefully serving it up before the local curry house can deliver.

Along the way, he’ll share recipe tips, anecdotes and stories of his shared Scottish and Indian heritage.

“People are so passionate about their local takeaways, they are quite evangelical about them, so I was interested in finding a way of exploring that relationship,” says the chef, when asked about the origins of the show.

The 43-year-old adds, “It also makes every show unique. It’s different every night.”

As are the dishes he cooks and has delivered, the standard of which can vary greatly.

“In a city, where there is great choice, the standard is generally very high, but I’ve come across some interesting things claiming to be curries,” he says, diplomatically adding, “Of course, that’s because people choose what they want to eat and have often never tasted a curry that has been cooked at home, only food cooked as a carryout.”

The two could not be more different he insists: “I cook the sort of dish we would have at home, rather than what you would get in a restaurant. Everything is cooked fresh. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes, whereas the takeaway stuff takes about 20 minutes to be delivered to your door.

“Takeaway stuff is put together in as short a period of time as possible, and because their meat is generally pre-cooked, it’s sauce with meat added, whereas with home cooked dishes, the meat is cooked in the sauce for a more unified flavour.

“Home cooked dishes also have deeper flavours because they’re cooked for longer.”

The show culminates with audience members being invited to compare dishes.

“We do a blind tasting. Some prefer the takeaway,” admits Kohli. “That’s not surprising, that’s what they’re used to eating. Generally, though, people prefer the home cooked dish.”

Throughout the show Kohli entertains with stories of his time working in restaurants.

“The show has to work on every level and feel natural and not forced,” he says. “I really enjoy the storytelling side of things, and when I’m talking about food, it just makes sense that I should be cooking at the same time.”

So, what will he be creating for his audience on Sunday?

“I literally make a decision the day before, then, where possible, shop locally for the ingredients,” he says.

Seems you’ll have to head along to Musselburgh to find out.

• Hardeep Singh Kohli: Indian Takeaway, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Sunday, 7.30pm, £14.25, 0131-665 2240 /