Walking into Paramjit’s Kitchen early one morning, the aroma of curry was palpable. It was that delicious smell you get every time you go in. I was there to try and figure out some of the secrets to making a delicious curry. I can make a good red lentil soup, but it never matches what I get at Paramjit’s. Chef and owner Goldie Sanghera ran up from the basement to meet me and lead me into the kitchen.
Paramjit’s has been my favourite restaurant in Revelstoke since I moved here. It has a good variety of vegetarian dishes, the prices are reasonable, and – most importantly – the food is delicious.
Tucked on the corner of First Street and Connaught Avenue, Paramjit’s, or Pam’s as its commonly known, is a small space, with only about 15 chairs. There is very little separation between the kitchen and eating area at Paramjit’s – just enough to block the sight of the stove, but not enough so that the aroma’s coming forth don’t waft over the diners. The walls are painted yellow and the decor is a mix of local and Indian art. Bollywood movies play on a television in the corner.
It was opened in 2008 by Sanghera, a chef by trade who previously ran two fine dining restaurants in Calgary before moving to Revelstoke to work at her father’s business, City Furniture.
“I quit three times and the third time I quit I said, ‘Dad, this is real. I’m not coming back.’ So we decided to open up some small place.”
The restaurant Sanghera opened was named after her mother Paramjit, who has been selling popular curries at the weekly Saturday morning farmers market. The menu was a mix of Indian dishes and German cuisine, a product of her chef’s training in Austria. “It was my cooking experience and her knowledge, and we balanced it,” Goldie told me.
The morning I visited, Goldie had three recipes on the go: Aloo gobi, a potato and cauliflower curry; a mango chicken curry soup; and cream of asparagus soup. In one pot a bunch of asparagus was brewing. In another, a mix of leeks, onions and carrots were simmering – the start of the mango chicken curry soup.
“With Indian food you have to do a lots of preparation early,” she said. “It’s not done in just one day.”
She started going into the multi-day process for making the butter chicken sauce that is made by her mother. Paramjit then took over and led me through the process. First, at least 25 pounds of onions are chopped and then roasted for several hours until their caramelized. Then she adds ginger and garlic – a good amount of both. Next she lets it simmer until the oil starts to separate.
“You don’t have to tell him all the secrets,” interjected Goldie.
Still, Paramjit continued. She adds crushed tomatoes, a bit of water, some corn starch to thicken it, and then the all spice – a mix of 17 different spices she blends herself. Finally, it’s finished off with a bit of salt and cayenne pepper. The sauce is cooked one day and served the next with fresh chicken breast and either whipping cream or coconut milk – depending on whether or not the customer wants it dairy-free. “Everything we cook has no butter in the base,” said Goldie. “If somebody asks for something gluten free or vegan, we are able to do it.”
As we talked, Goldie added the chicken to the soup, and put on a pot of curried-water to boil; she uses it to blanche the cauliflower. “It gets a nice colour on there,” she said. “People are funny – if they don’t see yellow, they don’t think its curry.”
The aloo gobi started with frying up asafoetida spice in oil. The spice is used both for flavouring and as a digestive aid and is very common in Indian cuisine. She then added potatoes and a sauce called turka – a mix of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Finally, the golden yellow cauliflower is added.
The turka is a sauce that’s used as a base in many curries; its ingredients vary but it generally contains onion, garlic and ginger. It was already prepared and left to stew – the better to soak up all the spices. “Curry, the more you let it be, it’s more tasty,” said Goldie. “Whatever I do, I have to make a day before.”
When Goldie opened Paramjit’s she prepared for having to run it alone if it didn’t work out. “But when I opened it was really busy so I never had to run it by myself.”
I spent an hour with Goldie and her mother in the kitchen before other work commitments came calling. Later that day, I went back for lunch where I enjoyed a vegetarian thali – a selection of dishes, including a bonus coconut curry. She said to expect a new menu soon, which will include some Thai coconut curry’s as more people ask for dairy and gluten free dishes.
She also serves German cuisine, which I’ve never tried. Someone else can write about that – I’m sticking with the curries.
Paramjit’s Kitchen is located at 116 First St. West. Find the menu online at www.paramjitskitchen.com.