Surjan Singh Jolly, fondly known as Chef Jolly, gets up-close and personal with FACT in an exclusive conversation.
There’s no way if you’re a fan of authentic Indian cuisine, that you don’t recognise Chef Jolly. Surjan Singh Jolly, fondly known as Chef Jolly, is an Indian celebrity chef who has been Chef Judge for Master Chef India, a television personality and culinary consultant with over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry. He’s Corporate Culinary Director at Riyasat restaurant at the St. Regis Doha, which specialises in Indian cuisine. Riyasat celebrates Indian fine-dining cuisine with a contemporary flair whilst reinventing ancient traditions into a global, youthful and edgy setting. The music at Riyasat is upbeat and the lifesize canvas of Bollywood-inspired paintings transports you to India within a few seconds.
FACT recently caught up with Chef Jolly, who was visiting Doha, for a quick rapid-fire conversation.
What do you enjoy cooking the most?
Honestly, home food — comfort food. I love cooking okra, slow fried with mango powder and onion. It’s simple with some rotis at home.
Do you do all the cooking at home yourself?
My wife is a professional chef as well. So, she takes charge at home and I bow down to her.
So, what’s your favourite dish?
Anything that’s made with lots of love and passion. It can be any cuisine and something I can relate to.
Best moment of your career so far?
Every day for me is a new day and I look at the surprise elements every day. I have been fortunate; I’ve had great moments in my life. Right from my childhood to travelling, exploring my culinary skills, playing with my daughter — trying to be educated by her. I love those moments. Something that is organic, authentic and original.
If you could prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be?
It’s a tricky one! But how about FACT team?
And what would you make?
I’ll actually check with you all what you love. I’ll have to make it very bespoke to your liking and preferences rather than putting my bits to it.
So, what is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
I don’t think there’s any ingredient that’s challenging as long as you understand the characteristics of it and what values it brings in. But I have to keep telling people all the time that food needs to be seasoned perfectly with the right ingredients. Don’t go too overblown and use fresh ingredients.
Ghee or Olive Oil?
Baked or Fried?
Breakfast for dinner or dinner for breakfast?
Breakfast for dinner!
How many cooking scars do you have?
I just got one here on the arm very recently. That was me trying to get something out of the oven.
One thing you love about Doha?
I love the culture and how self-reliant the city and country are becoming. I happened to visit one of the farms the other day and I was so happy to see how they’re growing produce by aeroponics and hydroponics. I love the whole intent, idea and food.
One word for FACT?
How about two? Absolutely awesome! ✤