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Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

General chat about British Indian Restaurant curries

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Cory Ander
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Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Cory Ander » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:41 pm

Hi All,

What disappoints me is how very few members seem to be able to get into their favourite BIR kitchens, to learn how they cook their curries, and report their findings here.

Who has actually managed to get "behind the scenes" of their favourite BIR? What strategies would you recommend that other members try to do the same?

For me (obviously impossible now that I'm living in Australia) I have previously found that, being a regular customer, buying 3 or more takeaways per week, and being friendly and polite to them!, many BIRs are only too willing to invite you into their kitchens.

I would like to challenge/encourage members to try and get behind the scenes and report their findings here. It's the only way, in my opinion, that we'll ever be able to take the next steps forward....

PS: For me, I would be trying to get behind the scenes of a long-established BIR whose Bangladeshi chef is of the "old school" (and, most likely, whose English is their second language). But maybe such BIRs and chefs no longer exist?
Regards

CA (aka Admin) :)

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Sigma
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Sigma » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:08 am

I recently got offered a part time evening job as a delivery driver but unfortunately it was at a restaurant way too far from home to consider on a regular basis. It would be a great way to get behind the scenes though, and get your foot in the door for kitchen work.
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by steveparadox » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:11 am

one local near BIR states on the menu that you are welcome to visit the kitchen to watch food being prepared, just go there lol

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Sigma » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:19 am

Yeah.. the staff seem a lot more liberal than they used to. There doesn't seem to be any big secret about their methods etc. Not like there used to be anyway...
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by ScotchBonnet » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:43 am

Our local Indian cites health and safety as a reason not to let you into the kitchen. Our local Chinese has an open kitchen where you can see everything going on and you can see that they have two basic sauces in giant pots - one is a general brown sauce which goes into various dishes and one is a clear chicken broth which goes into soups, adds wetness and flavour to other dishes. One of the BIRs in Aberdeen lets you see them cooking dishes (all high-output burner, flames and spoon-bashing) but won't let you into the back of the kitchen where all the prep. and gravy making, marinading and pre-cooking is carried out. To be honest, you can probably learn more from YouTube videos than you can from getting into the kitchen because even if you do get in they may not tell you everything about what each component contains. There is also a lot to be said for what the individual chef does to create great dish and chefs vary in their approachability.
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Cory Ander » Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:58 am

steveparadox wrote:one local near BIR states on the menu that you are welcome to visit the kitchen to watch food being prepared
Have you done that?
Regards

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by pauly » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:36 am

I asked the manager at our local about going into their kitchen & I would post a review on the forum. He seemed all for it, said he would ring with a time but never did. To be honest, I don't think there would be much to learn from his chef, I can make our favourite curries more to our liking.

CA's idea of speaking to an old retired Bangladeshi chef would be interesting alright. I was good friends with an Indian restaurant manager back in around 1981, we did karate together, the East Indian Restaurant in Surbiton was the place he worked. I was in the kitchen dozens of times & the chef was an old man who spoke no English, but he made a fantastic curry. Sadly, I had no interest in the making of them then.

Personally, I don't think the modern TA's do anything different to what we do at home, I think the difference years ago was in the use of old onion bhaji oil, a restaurant these days would probably be closed immediately if a health inspector saw them doing that.

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Cory Ander » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:38 am

Interesting, pauly, maybe lost opportunities.....kicking the sh*t out of them, in karate, probably isn't the best way of going about it, either! :lol:
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by TiptonNick » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:11 pm

I thought about this before. Perhaps writing to ten takeaways/restaurants saying that you're doing some sort of dissertation on modern Indian cuisine in the UK and see what you get back? Problem is that if I got in there I'd want the recipes and they'd sniff me out.

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Mrkeeny » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:50 pm

I used to clean dishes for payment in popadoms when I a kid

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by steveparadox » Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:06 pm

Cory Ander wrote:Have you done that?
Hey CA, only just saw this but yes I have indeed been to the kitchen of said restaurant. The sahhee mahal Naga recipe was one from when I went into their kitchen.

cheers

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Rusty » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:40 pm

Nice one Steve

When I lived in the U.K. It was common practice getting into the kitchens, in fact some restaurants had car parks at the rear, you had to walk through kitchen to get to restaurant :lol::

Cheers Rusty
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by rsaha » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:37 am

Maybe it's a North American thing but I regularly ask to see the kitchen at all sorts of restaurants. Never been refused that I can remember...

Enthusiasm about what they are doing at a particular restaurant is what does it for me.

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by starkie » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:50 pm

I have been in a few of my local Indian kitchens normally after a few beers :yahoo: and have been very welcome to do so the secret is not to ask just sort of go in all nice and friendly even made my own nan bread in the tandoor chefs normally happy to see you

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by macferret » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:21 pm

I have been refused once or maybe twice. I just say that I run a catering company and that works pretty well as a backstage 'access all areas' pass. Getting past the manager is the easy bit: once I am in the kitchen it is often a matter of sign language. Usually the chef is OK, even if we don't have much of a common language. But I have screwed up: like the time I asked the chef what the second pan of gravy was for. It was stood on the back of the hob and it had a nice colour and a pretty good layer of oil floating on top. The chef rattled off some Hindi that made it clear I was a halfwit and I could leave at my earliest convenience. He then scraped what he had just been cooking into a takeaway tub and plunged the dirty pan into the mystery 'gravy' pan ready for the potwash.
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by liquidlen » Fri Oct 13, 2017 3:23 pm

I've asked my local takeaway many times to come in and and have a look, I've been going there for as long as I cam remember, my dad used to go and get curries from the new guys dad from there.

Anyway, his chicken pathia is my must have recipe, it's the best I've had anywhere, but I can't for the life of me replicate it at home, there's just a little something missing. When I've asked him in the past, I think he thinks I'm joking because he just laughs me off, I suppose he would lose a bit of money if he showed me that recipe.

One day.......................

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by dizzybeany » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:46 pm

I asked a delivery driver to get me a recipe for chicken Bhuna for a tenner LOL. He didn't keep his promise :-( On these American diners shows they are always having trouble with their chefs giving away their secret recipes to customers or rivals. I wonder if they would take me on for work experience??

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Cory Ander » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:38 pm

I'm sure they would be interested in someone peeling tons of onions and washing heaps of dirty dishes, for free, dizzybean...
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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by Cory Ander » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:38 pm

I'm sure they would be interested in someone peeling tons of onions and washing heaps of dirty dishes, for free, dizzybean... :tongue:
Regards

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Re: Strategies for Getting Into BIR Kitchens

Post by 6CJRQO » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:34 pm

I'd love to see more BIR videos like the one I did recently. As a regular customer (one a week) they'll soon get to know you and I would always chat to them while waiting for my take away order. Incidentally, I very rarely asked for delivery as I quite enjoyed leaving the house on my weekly trip to get the BIR takeaway! I certainly think most restaurants would be happy to invite you to the kitchen once they know you are a familiar face.

One other technique I often thought about was asking for a job as a delivery driver, even if it's just ad-hoc when they need you. A few weeks ago, the day before I made the aforementioned video, I did get a order delivered from the same place for my mum, and I noticed the guy that delivered it was a regular customer just 'helping out'! This probably isn't the norm, but being a small village where everyone seems to know everyone, nobody thinks it's strange helping out a local BIR or any other small business for that matter.

Next time I am in the UK I will make it my goal to see more BIR kitchens and you never know they may let me video it!

Ray

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