Chef Spotlight: Mallika Khan of TIKKA INDIAN GRILL in Williamsburg Brooklyn
Mallika Khan was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has an Honors Master Degree in Political Science from Dhaka University and a Diploma from Bangladesh Tourism Corporation from their Culinary School. From 2008-2010, Khan travelled back and forth from India to Dhaka and worked as a chef in several restaurants in Dhaka including Kustori. From 2010-2012, she was situated in London and worked at two restaurants, Al Baraka and Bombay. Khan came to the US in 2013 and began using her culinary talents to cater from her home for special events. Through one of these events, Khan met one of the partners from Tikka Indian Grill who asked her to open a restaurant with them. They came up with a very precise and focused menu for Tikka Indian Grill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Broadwayworld.com interviewed Mallika Khan about her career and her restaurant.
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
My passion for cooking was inspired by watching my mom and my grandmother when I was only 6 years old. I saw them make all the spices fresh. First they dried them and grinded them by hand. I was so fascinated by how many different spices they used for their cooking and how delicious everything tasted once it was done. I remember asking many questions on the ingredients each dish would get. My mom and my grandmother saw how determined I was to learn how to cook, so they let me help in the kitchen.
Who were some of your career mentors?
I was very much motivated by Sanjeev Kapoor and of course, my mom and my grandmother.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
I took an interest in exploring the North and South of India as well as East Bengal. By traveling to different regions of India and East Bengal, I was able to pick up all the different spices and ingredients used for every ethnic dish.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
Making someone happy through their taste buds gives me great pleasure. I get overjoyed with excitement. A few of my signature dishes are the small plates, Paanch Phoran Jhinga, East Bengal inspired and Sabji Tikka, fusion inspired. For the main entrees, Shrimp Malai Curry, which is Goa, influenced. The Patra Ni Machi is fusion inspired. Lamb chops, with my special spices are grilled to perfection and are Northern inspired with a little of my fusion touch. The Black Pepper Chicken, inspired by some spices from my mom recipe is East Bengal inspired. For all the vegetable lovers, Bhindi Jaipuri, Jaipure and East Bengal influenced and Baigan Bharta are totally out of my mom's kitchen, East Bengal style.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is the Shrimp Malai Curry and the lamb chops.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
I met the owners through one of the party that I had catered for, they wore totally blown away with my cooking and ask me to do food tasting for them. I told them about my experience with different style of cooking from all around India, Bangladesh and London. After the food tastings, they talked me into opening a restaurant with them. With the menu we prepared for our guests at Tikka Indian Grill, they will have the opportunity to experience authentic Indian food from different regions of India and Bangladesh with a touch of fusion.
Tikka Indian Grill is located at 185 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY. They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Call them at 718.768.2262 or visit their web site at http://www.tikkawilliamsburg.com/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mallika Khan