Jomon Kuriakose, Executive Chef, The Lalit London, from Basildon in England, is a household name among the community. His magic touch while cooking has been watched by millions through the nation’s most-watched BBC, and he has also bagged British Malayali’s ‘News of the year 2019’ award. He has always been at the forefront of supporting needy people worldwide, and he had undertaken a skydiving charity challenge in 2019 organised by the British Malayali Charity Foundation. This was to raise funds to facilitate the studies of financially unsound nursing students from India.
He has been recognized by the Craft Guild of Chefs as a Culinary hero for the year 2021. In addition to performing his job at an exemplary level, he demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to the community as well as to the general public.
He was born and raised in South India; Jomon completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from Sarosh Institute of Hotel Administration at Mangalore University. Upon graduating, Jomon was offered his first role within Speciality Restaurant Pvt Ltd, one of India’s leading restaurant groups, as Chef de Partie at Sigree. Jomon moved to London in 2008 and took up the role of chef de Partie at Bombay Palace, where he was able to strengthen his expertise in authentic Indian cuisine and develop his skills in fine Anglo-Indian dining.
In 2012, Jomon was appointed Senior Chef de Partie at Cinnamon Kitchen, a modern Indian restaurant in London merging Eastern spices with Western culinary styles. Here he quickly progressed to Sous Chef, learning under the guidance of Executive Chef and CEO Vivek Singh. He joined Baluchi at the Lalit London as Chef de Cuisine in 2017 and was promoted as The Executive Chef for the organisation with effect from July 2022. He is one of the youngest executive chefs in the country at present.
Do you have a favourite time of the year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?
That’s undoubtedly an ecstatic YES!! My favourite has to be spring as it represents rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal and resurrection which can be coined to one word ‘Growth’.
Growth in nature is an upshot of sunlight and water which if you analyse deeper, it’s a similar reflection to our spiritual life as well. Spring always brings the best produce in terms of quality and freshness. The success of a dish is the quality of the ingredients used which in turn is responsible for a content tummy and jovial smile after relishing a meal by my guests.
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
I honestly cannot comprehend an alternative! Because not being a chef has never been an option or maybe my heart and love for food never turned around to another passion. The dream of being a chef was engraved in me when I was 15 years old.
Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?
I have to confess that it does. They say we need to cook from our heart and for that we need to use the ingredients we love and confident to work with. The dishes that I love to eat have a massive and positive influence on my menu. The concept my heart follows for this is – “how can I ask someone to enjoy a dish that I personally would not?”
What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?
My philosophy is to be respectful to everyone’s individuality and preference,
I think my take on that would be the current trend of people turning into vegans. I personally feel it’s hyped because people just follow trends for the sake of it without understanding the whole concept. This may not be the case for everyone who has turned vegan, but when some people are promoting Veganism while wearing a leather jacket or a fur coat. Isn’t veganism defined as the practice of abstaining from the use of products derived from animals and typically avoiding the use of animal products, then I think it’s should be practiced fully.
When are you the happiest?
I have always felt a rush of happiness within me when I see I have made people around me happy. Let it be for a minute or an hour after enjoying my food, my plating, my company or a random conversation. Small things that turn moments big truly makes me happy.
When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?
If not in the kitchen, you can mostly find me surrounded by my beautiful wife and 3 lovely daughters. Even though it’s diligent hard work, a perfect work-life balance is what I strive for. Apart from my family, you can also find riding my motor bike. I believe I am truly living up to my nickname of Biker Chef !
Where is your favourite place to dine?
Without a doubt, I can say, I crave for food from my mothers kitchen, where my love for food has come from. If you ask me as a chef, I will say all the cuisines deserve to be given a chance to experience what they have to offer. Having said that, checking out new restaurants and dishes always gets me exhilarated.
What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food ?
I believe when hunger calls, any food can turn out to be comfort food. I think would enjoy the experience offered by a small kebab shop more than a high end restaurant.
What makes the local food scene so exciting?
Experiencing multiple ways of involving the local produce into dishes is always a breath of fresh air. There are different factors involved like the freshness, unique characters, flavours and textures of a fresh produce that always gets me excited.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
I have been serving my signature dish called Allepey Chicken curry which was heavily influenced by my mum’s traditional cooking methods and spices. It’s always a proud moment to hear from diners that they enjoyed it the most as it takes me back to my mum’s kitchen, my home town.
You’re having friends over for dinner tonight. What’s on the table?
The menu on my table would depend on a lot of elements. I would have to take into consideration if it’s a planned or a surprise visit. If it’s a planned visit then I have more prep time and hence I could end up serving an authentic dish like a slow cooked lamb shoulder, sea food or some nice and juicy kebabs from the tandoor.
On the other hand, if it’s a surprise visit then we would not have too much prep time and i might throw in a quick meal like lighting up the barbecue or a quick roast and veggies or adding a traditional touch and my Indian approach, I will have ready rice or bread with a variety of curries.
Name your favourite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.
My recent visit to Dubai has been a mesmerizing experience in terms of food, culture and the never ending night life, as if the city never sleeps.
Can you tell us more about the cuisine at your restaurants?
The menu involves pan-Indian cuisine which includes a sumptuous south Indian breakfast thaali, a masaledaar North Indian themed afternoon tea, an a la carte menu which gives you an experience of dishes from Kashmir to Kerala.
Recipe for Alleppey kozhi curry
• 500g chicken
250 ml coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
• 2 medium sized onions chopped
• 3 dried red chillies broken into halves
• 11/2 tbsp crushed ginger
• 11/2 tbsp crushed garlic
• 1 sprig curry leaves
• 2 heaping tsp coriander powder
• 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup thin coconut milk
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
• 1 tbsp whose peppercorns crushed
• 1tsp fennel seeds
5 green cardamom
1 tsp cloves
1 spring curry leaves
2 “ thick cinnamon
1. Heat oil in a pan and crack mustard and the dried red chillies.
2. Add the onions and cook till it turns soft and brown in color.
3. Add in the ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Saute till the raw smell disappears.
4. Add the coriander powder and turmeric powder along with the spice Mix.
5. Add the chicken pieces into it and stir well to coat the spices onto the chicken.
Cover and cook on low flame for s minutes.
6. Pour in the thin coconut milk and cook till the chicken is completely done. It may take 20 minutes.
7. Pour the thick coconut milk and stir immediately. Take off the heat.
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