Podcast: chef Arbinder Dugal on opening Attawa in London's Dalston

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Podcast: MasterChef The Professional's semi-finalist Arbinder Dugal on opening Attawa restaurant in London

Related tags Indian cuisine Restaurant London Chef

Chef Arbinder Dugal has discussed the difficulties faced by those such as himself, who were forced to change their restaurant opening plans as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dugal, who is a former Masterchef: The Professionals semi-finalist, is the head chef of Indian restaurant Attawa in London's Dalston, which was originally scheduled to open in March, before the Government-mandated shutdown of the industry put paid to those plans. However, last week the restaurant did finally open after a fashion by launching a takeaway and delivery service. 

Speaking on BigHospitality​'s latest UnitedWeStand podcast, Dugal says the decision to pivot the business temporarily was made quickly, with the menu redesigned from to make it suitable for takeaway. However, he adds that it was crucial to make sure this process didn't lead to too many variations in dishes.

"A few things have changed, but there can't be too many differences on the menu has it drops the quality. We're focusing on serving a limited number of dishes, which we're confident with, on the takeaway menu."

Attawa takes its the name from their family village in Punjab where its owners - husband and wife team Ravinder and Amar Madhray - lived before relocating to London in the 1970s. 

Having grown up in the Punjab region himself, Dugal has created a menu that reflects ‘a modern take on Punjabi home cooking, with a mix of comforting family recipes and modern interpretations’.

Dishes avaialble for takeaway include tandoor Lamb sheek served with mint chutney; fried lentil dumplings, served with relish and carrots, and topped with pani and pindhi chole (chickpeas slow cooked in chana masala).

It also offers sides such as chutneys, boondi raita, and dhal makani; alongside breads such as chilli naan, and tandoor roti. 

Dugal says the response so far has been good: "We've been open for a few days and the response has been good; we've received a lot of positive feedback on the quality of the food. It's still early days, but so far so good."

However, the attention is now on opening the restaurant's dining room as and when the easing of Government restrictions allow. 

"We have to follow the rules to ensure social distancing is followed in the restaurant," he says. "We just need to see how we can manage the time between bookings properly in order to ensure the distancing can be maintained."

#UnitedWeStand​ has been created by William Reed hospitality titles BigHospitality, Restaurant magazine and Morning Advertiser and is supported by Britvic, CocaCola European Partners and Unilever Food Solutions.

To download this podcast via iTunes, click here​.

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