Chef Vinod Saini’s confidence and creativity comes with 29 years of experience in fine dining restaurants and luxury hotels in India and Canada.
He began his career with The Oberoi group of hotels in India, at their flagship hotel in New Delhi in 1989, with stints in the French restaurant, all-day dining and the signature Indian restaurant Kandahar.
After 15 years with the Oberoi group, he moved to Canada for opening fine dining Indian restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver in 2005.
Post his international exposure of three years in the West, he returned to India in 2009 and joined Marut Sikka’s celebrated Kainoosh, a contemporary and classic Indian restaurant, as the Executive Chef.
An expert on Indian cuisine, he now heads the kitchen at Jamavar, which serves royal Indian cuisine at The Leela Palace New Delhi, as the Indian Master Chef. He was awarded as Best Indian Chef by Food and Nightlife, while he was the chef de cuisine at Jamavar in May 2012. Chef Vinod actively contributes to the onboard menu for Lufthansa Airlines, and was also appointed as their Star Chef. He was also one of the judges on the panel of Lufthansa for the Cook and Fly Contest.
His core strengths are excelling at innovative Indian food, staying within the boundaries of Indian flavours and retaining the authenticity of the cuisine. He has excellent kitchen organisation skills, employee management and development, food quality monitoring, cost control and HACCP.
In his free time, Vinod loves to listen to music and old retro hits.
In a candid conversation, he talks more about himself and his work:
Your philosophy on food?
Food should be memorable: healthy, flavourful and fresh always.
Your fav cuisine?
Our own native cuisine —Indian
Your fav spice?
Javitri, fennel seeds and fresh coriander roots
Rajiv Kaul and Louis Sailer
Your hot selling dish?
Dal Jamavar (black lentil)
Lessons learnt in the kitchen?
Do not serve any food to the guest without tasting it yourself.
How do you like to de-stress?
Just sit alone in dark room with very slow Himalayan spa instrumental music
How do you define yourself?
There is a life beyond what I am, I have to learn so many things and need to experiment with food day by day but believe in boundaries and consistency.
What are you passionate about?
I am always on the lookout for learning and trying out traditional and lost recipes. I love going back to our roots.
Last meal on earth, what would you choose?
Simple dal-roti made by my mother.
Murgh ki chaap
(Chicken thigh kabab with assorted green herbs)
Chicken thigh 600g
Ginger paste 30g
Garlic paste 50g
Lemon juice 1
Salt to taste
Hung yogurt 10g
All spice powder 20g
Green cardamom 1g
Garam masala 3g
Refined oil 60 ml
Curry leaves 30g
Coriander leaves 50g
Mint leaves 20g
Green chilli 20g
Brown onions 5g
Amul cheese 20g
- Clean and marinate the chicken thigh with all first marination ingredients
- Blanch all the leaves and keep it to cool and make a fine paste, make a paste separately with green chilli, brown onions and cheese then mix well together.
- Mix the second marination and fine paste together and apply on the chicken which is already in first marination
- Keep the marinated chicken about 2 hours and then cook in tandoor
- Serve hot with a sprinkle of chaat masala on top, with mint chutney or naan bread
Tip: Always use freshly ground all-spice masala and do not overcook green leaves as they will lose colour.