1 December 1996 e After a year in which there has been huge investment in the luxury end of the hotel industry, we take a look at the interior design of two of the best - one old and one new property, Beverage Business Whichever way you look at them, alcoholic fruit beverages and ciders have put plenty of fizz into the onconsumption market.
2 Hotelier &. Caterer December c.0 N T E N T S CURRENT AFFAIRS I Restaurant profile 32 Viewpoint 3 I The perfect tandoori lamb chops 35 News 5 News in Brief 9 HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT Guns and the law 12 Trevor Lombard's guesthouse 15 I BEVERAGE BUSINESS News 37 Brand Watch - The super-budget market 18 REGULARS 40 The cider market 47 Design and decor 20 I Products & Services 51 TIlE BUSINESS OF FOOD I Trade show directory 54 News 25 I People 56
3 /pod people The tandoori cuisine team i!t Bukhara: Khem Singh, head chef Hukam Singh Chouhan, owner Sabi Sabharwal, Yamdoot Singh, Naradmuni Ratori, Bhaj Ram Shanna. u - e Over the past few years, especially since the opening of the Waterfront, Cape Town's CBD has seen a score of restaurants either close down completely, or cease to open for dinner. The reason given by the overwhelming majority - even some of those who enjoyed the captive audience of an attached hotel - is that they were playing to near-empty houses. The security situation, whether real or perceived, seemed to keep diners out of the city centre at night. Yet, since its opening in November 1995, Restaurant Bukhara, a North-Indian Barbecue in Church Street has been bucking the trend. Even on traditionally quiet Monday and Tuesday evenings, bookings are brisk. Walk-in customers often sit at the bar waiting for a table - even through 32 One of the hottest restaurants in Cape Town' proves that customers will queue for interesting food. the wet Cape Winter, willingly waiting to enjoy a spread of aromatic ally spicy tandoori fare. A doctorate in theoretical elementary particle physics might not seem the ideal qualification for a restaurateur, but owner Dr Sabi Sabharwal is no stranger to the trade. His family owns two restaurants in Delhi, and another in Amsterdam. He is modest about his success. "The most important thing from my viewpoint, is that when we opened the restaurant, we did not want to take out loans, so we looked for premises that were not outrageously priced. I opened expecting a turnover one-third of what it is today, and I think that a lot of hard work, and some good reviews in the local press, were the main ingredients when it came to the business picking up the way it has. "When I did my sums initially, I looked at what was happening in the City Centre, and accepted that we would probably get most of our business from the lunch-time trade, and that our evenings would be quiet. The fact is that the pattern is now completely reversed. We started out with about 75 seats, but now we seat 150 at a time. Considering that on Mondays w~
4 generally serve more than 200 dinners, it is no surprise that we do up to three covers on Saturdays. "I suppose I am trying to be a devil' s advocate, putting myself down, but perceptions aside, I don't think that this location' should be any less successful than the Waterfront or Sea Point. I just have to remind myself that people do not come here for the location, and I do not get a free ride because I have a good view. "I take a lot of trouble making sure that I maintain my quality, and the ambience inside is made by the people." Authenticity is an important factor in this eatery's success. The tables, chairs, utensils and copper dishes have all been imported from India. The kitchen had to be kitted out with two tandoors, the traditional wood-burning North Indian clay oven. It took 15 people to carry each one up the stairs, and then an extra 200kg of clay was added to them. "In keeping with the authenticity, we wrap our cutlery so as to encourage people to eat with their hands in the Indian way, but one has to strike a balance between educating and accommodating. For those that prefer, we still have knives and forks on the table." Dr Sabharwal believes in using only top quality produce. "All my vegetables are bought from the farm stall, because I know that as soon as the quality goes out the back door, the customers will go out of the front door and I will soon follow. "Another aspect is experience. My parents employed the top chefs in Delhi. Most of the head chefs working in the top hotels in Delhi were trained at my parents' restaurants. This is also true for the five chefs I have imported. "From the start, we concentrated on quality rather than quantity, keeping the menu restricted to around 20 items, and I owe a lot to my chefs. "Hukarn Singh Chouhan, my head chef, (Top) Owner Sabi Sabharwal and head chef Hukam Singh Chouhan get ready for the night ahead with a quick consultation over the tandoor oven. (Above) A weekday night at Bukhara where every night is busy in spite of the fact that the restaurant is in the Cape Town CBD where only the brave venture on the streets after 6pm; arrived from Delhi in November. He is the guru of the other four, and has worked for my family since He hopes to spend two years here, and develop the menu a bit more." The experience of the chefs is also handy when it comes to making ingredients that are otherwise simply not available locally. Paneer cheese, an essential part. of North Indian cuisine, is made on the premises. The chefs also make their own yoghurt. "The taste of the local yoghurt is not the same as it should be for Indian food, and we use plenty in our marinades and other preparations." Some of the volumes used are staggering. B ukhara ' s kitchen goes through between 70 and 80 chickens, 35 legs of lamb and lokg or more of lamb chops every day. "All the tandoori dishes need to marinate for at least 12 hours. If! do not marinate the food, I am not giving the diner what they ask for. Sometimes it is difficult to predict how many orders of lamb or chicken you might get, but if we do run out of one or the other, I do not take chances and compromise. I feel it is better to refuse than to send out something that is not up to scratch." With regard to the fickle world of fashion, Dr Sabharwal guards against being too trendy. "It is important to be a bit trendy, but if you rely too much on fashion, and the fashion changes you are dead. "It is more important to me that people associate the name of the restaurant with quality, so that when someone says they are going to Bukhara for dinner, others know it is a prestigious venue. They must be proud to say they are coming here." To counter any concerns diners might have about security, Bukhara spends around R5 000 a month on a full-time security guard at street level, who has armed response backup. "I really needed him because of the number of government ministers and politicians that come here. I can say with confidence that we have not had one mugging outside since we opened." As for his plans for the future, Dr Sabharwal has applied to erect a balcony overlooking Church Street, but does not plan to expand much more than that. "I prefer to keep this restaurant running well. One day I might open a take-out or fastfood operation but it will be somewhere else and I'll use the excess from here to provide the same cuisine, but less formally at a different location." 0 33
5 Central to north Indian cuisine is the "tandoor". Traditionally built below ground, this clay-lined oven allows the cook to bake, boil or barbecue on the same fire. The twin tandoors in the kitchen of Restaurant Bukhara might look modern with their casings of stainless steel, but in fact they are little different from their medieval forebears. It took quite a bit of persuasion to get Sabi Sabharwal to part with the recipe for Tandoori Lamb Chops. Taught to him by Indian culinary guru Hukam Singh Chouhan, it is his firm favourite, and is equally popular with the diners who pack his restaurant nightly. 0 The perfect TANDOORI LAMB CHOPS Tandoori lamb chops need no fancy presentation but this does not stop consumers from beating a path to the door of Restaurant Bukhara. isconceptions abound when it comes to Indian cuisine, and an larming number of people still seem to dismiss all Indian food under the blanket heading of "curries". It was in fact the British, who, in their characteristic inability to pronounce any non-english word, caused "tarkaris" - only one aspect of the highly varied Indian repertoire - to emerge to the world as "curries". It is safe to assume that before Christopher Columbus discovered chillies in the Americas, they were unknown on the Indian subcontinent, but once European traders introduced them, they soon became endemic. But Indian cooking ranges far beyond the simple curry, and it is not surprising that a wealth of distinctly different regional cuisines exist in India, with styles varying vastly from north to south, and more subtly from west to east. South Africa has the largest Indian community outside India. The mingling of different regional traditions which were imported with the indentured labourers in the 1860s, and with subsequent immigrants, compounded by adaptation and improvisation with local ingredients, has given rise to a rich South African Indian cuisine. While remaining undeniably Indian in character, (it owes more to south India than to the north) it is different to anything found in India herself. North Indian cuisine was strongly influenced by the Mogul empire, which encompassed much of northern India. This cuisine is characterised by fragrant spices, and less use of chilli than the fiery offerings of the south. At the same time, there is less emphasis on vegetarianism, and while rice, dahls and other pulses are used extensively as accompaniments, chicken-, lamb- and fish-based dishes often form the main course as a dry tandoori preparation rather than a gravied curry. Remove the excess fat from Lkg of lamb cutlets. Pulp half of a ripe pawpaw, and mix with 125m I vinegar and salt to taste. Coat the chops well with this mixture, lay them in a bowl, pour the remainder over them and leave to marinate for about an hour. Remove the chops and place them in a clean container. Mix together 50g each of ginger paste, garlic paste, and green chilli paste. Rub this into the meat well. The strength of the flavour should come from the green chillies in the paste, while red chillies will give the dish its distinctive colour. Lastly, take 500ml plain yoghurt and blend in a tablespoon of garam masala, an egg and 50g sunflower oil. Pour this over the chops so that they are completely immersed, and leave to marinate for 12 hours. Traditionally, the chops would be skewered on a long kebab, and barbecued in the main body of the tandoor, but for those who do not have a tandoor, a pizza oven or covered grill will do. "The point is that there must not be any flame," says Sabi Sabharwal. "Even though the dish is served 'dry', the chops should not be dried out, so baste them with a little oil while cooking," he says. Serve the chops on a platter with raw chopped onion, and accompanied by basmati rice, poppadums and a lentil curry.