Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette

Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette
Chef Vikas Khanna currently heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna in Dubai. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 07 June 2023

Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette

Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette
  • The chef currently heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna in Dubai
  • He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, been a James Beard Award nominee, and written written more than 25 cookbooks

DUBAI: It’s hard enough to attain success ‘just’ as a chef, or author, or poet, or filmmaker. But Vikas Khanna has somehow managed to successfully be all of those things and still find time for philanthropy, effortlessly navigating the realms of creativity and compassion. 

The celebrity Indian chef has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, been a James Beard Award nominee, written written more than 25 cookbooks, several of which have won awards, has hosted several seasons of “MasterChef India,” “Twist of Taste,” and National Geographic’s “Mega Kitchens.” He has also been a guest on “MasterChef Australia,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” and many other shows, and has been featured on the covers of Forbes Life, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health, GQ and many more. 

He currently heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna in Dubai. Here, he discusses the beauty of bread, why cream is great, and following your heart in the kitchen, and shares a paneer rosette recipe. 

When you started out as a professional, what was the most-common mistake you made when preparing a dish? 

When I first started cooking professionally in South India, I realized that one of the most common mistakes people from my hometown — in the North — make is not roasting spices properly. I struggled with this technique, and also with coconut, which is not commonly used in northern cuisine. It took me years to understand why roasting coconut and spices to that level was necessary for dishes in southern India or Sri Lanka.  

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?  

It’s important to remember that cooking is a very free form of art — many of the greatest dishes we eat today were actually mistakes. All great chefs understand the power of making mistakes and owning up to them, and constantly working to improve. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They can lead to new creations. Use recipes as a guideline, but also follow your heart. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?  

I know some people might be surprised, but I think adding cream can really elevate a dish. I appreciate French cuisine for the way it can transform a dish just by adding butter and cream. It brings a whole new dimension of flavor and richness to your palate, almost like a happiness factor.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

It’s difficult to say, because I believe that people in the business are generally doing their best and criticizing them too much can be unfair — and even unethical. When I go out to eat, I try not to focus too much on the food. Spending time with the people I’m with is more important. One common mistake I see in restaurants is that they wait for all the dishes to be ready before serving them. I think this is a mistake. I believe that it’s more important to prioritize the enjoyment of food and company over following strict rules. 

When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine? 

It changes constantly. However, since I primarily live in New York, there is one restaurant that I consider to be one of my biggest comfort places: Veselka, which serves Ukrainian cuisine. I have been going there for more than 23 years and I absolutely love the ambience, the staff, and everything that comes out of the kitchen. The food makes me feel like I’m eating a meal cooked by an elderly grandma, and to create that kind of experience in a restaurant is epic. When I was studying, it was the only place that was open at night when I couldn’t sit in a heated room and use free internet. But even after all these years, I’m still absolutely obsessed with their cooking style. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly? 

Whenever I need some comfort and have the desire to totally cut myself off from people, there’s a dish that I turn to. It’s multigrain khichdi, which is a form of Indian risotto. I find it so forgiving, like being in grandma’s house where you can break everything and still won’t be judged. There’s so much comfort in that. For most Indians, the kitchen is not just a place to cook dishes, it’s an emotion. And with this dish, you can add any grains and vegetables you have on hand, add a pinch of spices, take it to the extreme or keep it mild, it won’t judge you.  

What request/behavior by customers most annoys you? 

When people come to the restaurant right when we’re closing. If you really want to enjoy the restaurant, you should come a little earlier and give the staff some breathing space. This allows them to perform better. 

What’s your favorite dish to cook and why?  

In Punjab, bread is a staple food, and I take pride in my expertise in cooking Indian breads. It’s an art that requires a great deal of technical skill. Most of our breads are unleavened, made with just wholewheat flour and water. The challenge lies in making them moist, fluffy, and well-seasoned. I find it amazing how bread-making can be so intricate. I learned to make breads from my grandmother, who would pack them for me when I left home for college. Her breads would stay moist for days. I would ask her how she did it, and she would simply reply, “It’s just love.” 

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right?  

In Kinara, we have a dish of lamb chops that we minimally season to allow the meat flavor to shine. We serve it with papaya chutney, which has a sweet and sour taste, and sweet potato puree. The secret to this dish is in the cooking and resting of the meat, which can make or break the dish within a few fractions of seconds. Lamb chops are very delicate, which adds to the difficulty. 

As a head chef, what are you like?  

I don’t like to shout, especially not during service. However, I have a bad habit of not speaking up when I should. Sometimes, after the dinner service, I write a long email with feedback and suggestions. People have asked me to wait until the morning to send it, but I feel that it’s important to address issues as soon as possible. We can’t take our customers for granted. They’re spending their hard-earned money, and we need to give them the best experience possible. And as an ambassador of Indian culture, I feel a responsibility to represent it well.  


Chef Vikas’ paneer rosette  


For paneer rosette 

150g cottage cheese; 10g ginger and garlic paste; 10g deghi mirch powder; 4g turmeric powder; 10 ml mustard oil; 4g salt 

For red cabbage poriyal sauce 

100g red cabbage; 40g fresh grated coconut; 4g mustard seeds; 20 ml cooking oil; 4 curry leaves; 5g ginger; 1 green chili; 10 ml lime juice; 2g lecithin; 6g salt 

For rhubarb pickle 

60g fresh rhubarb; 10 ml cooking oil; 5g fennel seeds; 4g onion seeds; 5g cumin seeds; 5g salt; 15g sugar; 15 ml white vinegar 

For garnish 

10 ml coriander oil; 5 red-vein sorel leaves ; 5g toasted white and black sesame seeds 


1. Slice the cottage cheese using a 2mm-thick round cutter. Cut the slices again across the center to make a halfmoon shape. Use the ginger and garlic paste, deghi mirch, turmeric, mustard oil and salt to make a marinade. 

2. Overlap the cottage cheese slices like a trail. Cover in marinade and roll from one end to the other. It should look like a small rose. Keep it in the chiller so that it holds its shape. 

3. For red cabbage poriyal: Slice the cabbage and keep it aside. Fine chop the ginger and green chilies. Add oil to a pan, heat and add the mustard seeds and curry leaf. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, add the chopped ginger and green chilies. Then add the cabbage and sauté until it wilts. Add grated coconut and adjust the seasoning. Finally, add lime juice and mix. Place in a mixer and blend until smooth. Strain and keep to one side. 

4. For rhubarb pickle: Cut the rhubarb into lengths of one inch. Heat oil in a pan. Add fennel seeds, onion seeds and cumin seeds. Once they start crackling, add the rhubarb. When the rhubarb starts sweating add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Remove and place in a dry container. Store at room temperature. 

5. For the garnish: Add coriander oil to a pot and blanch red-vein sorrel leaves for 10 seconds then immediately transfer to ice-cold water. Squeeze all the water out and blend with neutral oil. Strain through a muslin cloth drop by drop and do not disturb the mix. 

6. Place the red-vein sorrel leaves in cold water.  

7. Put the paneer in a preheated oven for 12 mins at 180 Celsius. Coat the edges with black and white sesame seeds. Use a hand blender to blend the red cabbage poriyal sauce with lecithin to make it foamy. 

8. In the serving bowl, pour six tablespoons of sauce, and place the paneer rosette in the center. Place the rhubarb pickle to the side and drizzle it with coriander oil. Finally, use the red-vein sorrel leaves as garnish. 


Where We Are Going Today: Roll and More

Where We Are Going Today: Roll and More
Updated 30 September 2023

Where We Are Going Today: Roll and More

Where We Are Going Today: Roll and More

JEDDAH: Roll and More serves up Indian street food in a fine dining setting with modern decor. Located in Jeddah’s Hira Street, the restaurant’s ambience is cozy and comfortable. While I anticipated an all-Indian musical playlist, the eclectic soundtrack added a unique touch to the dining experience.

For my appetizers, I selected the fried samosas, which were generously stuffed with spiced potato and served with two sauces: a zesty chili mint yogurt and a sweet, tangy tamarind sauce. I also ordered the butter shrimp tacos, which came drenched in a rich sauce infused with Indian spices.

My main course was flavorful biryani rice infused with an aromatic blend of nuts and Indian spices paired with the chicken butter masala — a tender and mouthwatering delight — accompanied by two slices of buttery naan bread. 

I also indulged in the grilled shrimp roll — a generously sized tortilla loaded with tomatoes, lettuce, and some special Indian sauce to complement the shrimps.

To quench my thirst, I could not resist the fresh mango lassi. This refreshing beverage provided a welcome respite from the spices, though its thick and creamy texture might prompt you to order a glass of water.

The dessert — caramel French toast served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream — was a true delight and stole the spotlight from the rest of the meal. The contrasting textures and flavors created a delightful symphony for the taste buds. 

Roll and More also offers an array of options for group dining, including rice bowls, roll boxes, and taco boxes, making it a perfect choice for gatherings and parties.

The friendly and efficient staff further enhanced the overall experience.

For more information, visit @rollandmoreksa on Instagram.

Recipes for success: Chef Steven Gibbs offers advice and a delicious seafood recipe

Recipes for success: Chef Steven Gibbs offers advice and a delicious seafood recipe
Updated 29 September 2023

Recipes for success: Chef Steven Gibbs offers advice and a delicious seafood recipe

Recipes for success: Chef Steven Gibbs offers advice and a delicious seafood recipe

DUBAI: Chef Steven Gibbs likes to laugh. Throughout our interview, Gibbs — the executive chef of Scott’s Riyadh — jokes and smiles. But underneath the jovial exterior is a serious mind focused on serving a great experience to customers.   

He also likes crab, which makes him an ideal fit to head the Riyadh branch of Scott’s, the hugely successful London-based seafood restaurant.  


Gibbs began his career at another London hotspot: the legendary theatre eatery The Ivy, under the restauranter Des McDonald, and has worked at several other high-profile eateries, including Gordon Ramsey’s Verre in Dubai, London’s Soho House, and event production and catering company Urban Caprice, before his move to Riyadh.   

Here, Gibbs talks co-cooking, mellowing with age, and burning toast.    

Q: What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?    

A: If you’re cooking at home, for a dinner party, for instance, I’d advise asking someone to do it with you. It makes it a more enjoyable experience. And if I was cooking for three or four people, I’d definitely want someone helping me.   

What was the most common mistake you made when you were starting out?  

I think most chefs burn toast a lot. (Laughs.) It’s very common during service. When I worked at The Ivy, we used to have eggs Benedict on the menu and I used to burn the English muffins all the time; I’d put them on the grill and just forget them.   

Salmon. (Supplied)

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?  

I’m going to go back to when my dad used to cook. He was a terrible cook; he was so bad that I developed a phobia about mashed potatoes — I couldn’t eat them until I started working in restaurants. So, salt and butter. That’s all I can say.  

What’s the most common issue you find in other restaurants when you go out to eat?    

Sometimes, I think people try too hard. Like, if the server is a little shy or unsure, it adds a bit of humanity to the experience. I never criticize — I don’t do reviews; I prefer a casual approach.  

When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine/dish to order? And why?  

I don’t have a favorite cuisine – I like all food. But my favorite ingredient is crab, so I’ll say anything with fresh crab and peanuts.  

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home?  

I’m getting old so I’m trying to stay in shape and not have carbs. Usually, my go-to dish is a cheese omelet with a fresh tomato salad. You can’t beat that.  

Yellowtail carpaccio. (Supplied)

 What customer behavior most annoys you?  

Honestly, people are people. Everyone has different tastes. I think because I’m getting old, I’m never shocked and I don’t get annoyed.   

  What’s your favorite dish to cook and why?   

I’m from the UK, where it can get quite cold. So I like slow cooking meats, like lamb shoulder or beef cheek or short rib. It takes a lot of skill, a lot of precision, and, when it comes out right, it’s really satisfying.  

  What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right (whether on your current menu or not)?  

Probably pastry — cakes, meringues, eclairs... I can do some, but it’s the most difficult thing to get right because it takes more time, more precision… the weight needs to be right, the oven… there are a lot of things that need to come together.   

As a head chef, what are you like? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laid back?  

I don’t remember ever losing someone from a kitchen because of me. I think I’m laid back. I never shout at people, but I do like people to be honest in the kitchen.   


Chef Steven’s prawns with chilli jam, apple and green papaya salsa 

INGREDIENTS (serves four): 

For the jam: 1 tblsp corn oil; 1 red onion, roughly chopped; 70g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped; 60g fresh red chili, roughly chopped; 10g dried red chili or chili flakes; 60g garlic, peeled and crushed; 90g caster or granulated sugar; 40g brown sugar; 400g fresh or tinned tomatoes, blended; 100ml rice wine vinegar; 40ml fish sauce 

For the salsa: 1 green apple, core removed and finely chopped; ½ green papaya, green mango or firm orange mango, peeled and finely chopped; 1 long red chili, deseeded, finely chopped; 50g spring onion, finely chopped; 20ml mirin; 20ml rice vinegar; 40ml olive oil 

For the prawns: 100ml corn oil; 16 good size prawns, peeled and de-veined (just the mid-section, or the head and tail if preferred); 80g butter, diced; 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped; a handful of washed, chopped fresh parsley 


For the jam: Lightly heat the corn oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chilies, and cook on a low heat (the ingredients should not change color) for five minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes, until the jam is thick and glossy. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then blend to a smooth consistency in a food processor. Leave in the fridge until required. 

 For the salsa: Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper and leave to stand until needed. 

For the prawns: Heat a skillet or frying pan. Add the prawns four at a time and cook for one minute on each side, then move to a flat baking sheet. Repeat until all the prawns are cooked. In the same skillet or pan, add the butter and garlic and cook until the butter is bubbling. Add the chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon and pour over the prawns. Spread some chili jam on to the plates, add the prawns and finish with the apple and papaya salsa.  

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking
Updated 24 September 2023

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking
  • Abdulrahman Al-Bani, a team member, told Arab News: “The Southern Travelers Team was established on the 88th Saudi National Day. At that time, we walked from Baljurashi to Abha in southern Saudi Arabia”

MAKKAH: A group of elderly Saudi travelers is touring the globe to promote sports and the idea that everyone should participate in them on a regular basis to prevent diseases.

The experienced hikers range in age from 61 to 79 years old, and practice their activities year-round, most notably on public holidays. They have scaled numerous summits throughout the world.

They believe that one must exercise regularly, especially hiking, to strengthen the heart and promote good health.

Abdulrahman Al-Bani, one of the founding members of the Southern Travelers Long Distance Team, told Arab News: “The Southern Travelers Team was established on the 88th Saudi National Day. At that time, we walked from Baljurashi to Abha in southern Saudi Arabia.”

He added that on the 89th National Day the group walked a long distance from Abha to Baha and from Baha to Abha the next year. They walked from Abha to Dhahran Al-Janoub on the 91st National Day.

“On National Day 92, we made a trip along a path we called ‘Qyam and Shamam,’ which is a path similar to some European countries. It was 242 km long and passed through ancient villages, museums, and tourist attractions such as parks, mountains and valleys in the beautiful Asir region.”

The team has also started commemorating the Kingdom’s Founding Day with walking trips. Al-Bani explained: “Two years ago, on Founding Day, we walked from Baha Province to Makkah Province, passing through the migration trail from Makkah to Madinah. We made another trip from the Jazan Governorate in southern Saudi Arabia to the last governorate in Baha Province, a distance of 420 km.”

He explained that the team tours all regions and governorates of the Kingdom, holds events and encourages practicing sports through setting an example. It currently consists of 10 members.

One of the valuable aspects of their excursions has been developing a community and getting to know each other. “We got to know each other in walking and hiking activities. The team came together and became harmonious and consistent with each other. We carry a national and societal message to citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Bani added.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Health spends billions to treat diseases such as narrowed arteries, heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol. These huge amounts of money could be saved if people walk for at least half an hour a day.

“We aspire to be a good role model for young people and the elderly when we walk in cities, parks, and villages,” Al-Bani said, noting that team members “do not suffer from any diseases, not even diabetes or high blood pressure, thanks to the continuous physical effort that they are always keen to do, despite the fact that most of the team members are close to 80 years of age.”

Al-Bani added: “This week, in just one day, the team covered a distance of 21 km in Al-Soudah Mountains, which rise 2,400 meters above sea level. We have extensive experience in walking and hiking. We have become professional, but our message to everyone is do not exhaust yourself. Just exercise regularly.”

He noted that the group had trekked summits such as “the Himalayas, Everest, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa, and the Elbrus Mountains, which are the highest peaks in Europe and Russia.”

He added: “We walked on the Mont Blanc Trail in France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Western Highlands as well in Scotland. The group also climbed the highest peak in the Arab world in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco — Toubkal.”


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Aleppo’ a Syrian restaurant in Riyadh

Updated 24 September 2023

Where We Are Going Today: ‘Aleppo’ a Syrian restaurant in Riyadh

  • Customers will enjoy a variety of flavors on Aleppo’s menu including shishbarak, yabriq, and farika, which are all popular Syrian dishes

Aleppo is a Syrian restaurant located on Prince Mamdouh Bin Abdulaziz Street in Riyadh. This eatery provides a selection of authentic Syrian dishes but with an interesting twist on some of the original recipes.

Aleppo’s historic interiors, ambiance, musical playlist, and paintings by notable Syrian artists hanging on the walls all transport guests to the city of Aleppo, with its historic buildings and ancient passageways. The restaurant has created the perfect recipe for a great time with family and friends, while also satiating the appetite with delectable food.

Customers will enjoy a variety of flavors on Aleppo’s menu including shishbarak, yabriq, and farika, which are all popular Syrian dishes. If you are a fan of kebabs, you will find a variety to choose from, including kabab halabi, popular among regulars, and kabab tahinah, which is mixed with tahina sauce and other spices. Other appetizers on the menu are hummus, tabouleh, and kubbah.

One of their best items is dolma with meat, a specialty in Aleppo. It is cooked with meat unlike the usual way of making dolma where many cook it with olive oil.

The place is a bit small and finding a parking space can be challenging especially early in the evening and during peak hours. Thus, it is recommended to avoid going to the restaurant during those times to save yourself some time, and visit during lunch hours or for a late dinner.

The restaurant opens every day from 12 p.m. until 1 a.m., except on Thursdays and Fridays where they extend the time for one more hour.


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Cwtch’ - European dining experience

Updated 22 September 2023

Where We Are Going Today: ‘Cwtch’ - European dining experience

  • Cwtch’s menu showcases elevated European flavors, with a focus on quality ingredients and meticulous attention to detail

Located in Al-Murjan district, Jeddah, Cwtch is a culinary gem that offers a refined European dining experience, taking gastronomy to new heights. The restaurant’s name, derived from the Welsh language, perfectly captures the essence of comfort and affection that every guest is meant to experience through their delightful dishes.

Some may find the overall simplicity of the place to be slightly underwhelming. However, the focus on quality ingredients and attention to detail may overshadow the desire for bold and innovative culinary creations.

Whether you visit for a regular meal or to celebrate a special occasion like Saudi National Day, Cwtch promises to delight your senses and leave a lasting impression.

Cwtch’s menu showcases elevated European flavors, with a focus on quality ingredients and meticulous attention to detail. From the starters, such as the wagyu beef tartar mixed with Cwtch’s signature tartar sauce, to the Andalusian prawns PIL PIL served with homemade baguette, and the delectable Rockefeller oysters baked with a creamy white wine sauce, each dish is a testament to the culinary expertise of the kitchen team.

The salad bar at Cwtch offers exciting choices, including the creamy burratina salad served with serrano tomato carpaccio and rocket salad, as well as the prawn and kimchi salad, which combines flavors in a unique and refreshing way. The commitment to using the finest ingredients is evident in every dish, such as the slow-cooked chicken and the oven-baked gnocchi with cream, bacon, broccoli, mushroom and parmesan.

When it comes to the main courses, Cwtch delivers exceptional flavors. The Dover Sole Meuniere, pan-fried with butter, capers, and a white wine sauce, offers a delicate and delightful seafood experience. The roasted whole corn-fed chicken Provencale, cooked with Provencale herbs and served with roasted potatoes, is a mouthwatering option.

For meat lovers, the wagyu rib eye and the veal cutlet Milanese, with their golden and crunchy exteriors, are truly satisfying. The sides, including truffled mashed potatoes, asparagus and rainbow carrots, perfectly complement these main dishes. Do not forget to pair your meal with their curated drinks, such as the refreshing mojito passion fruit or the captivating blue unicorn.

The culinary delights at Cwtch are accompanied by exemplary service. The staff members are attentive, knowledgeable, and dedicated to ensuring that every guest’s needs are met. From the moment you step into the restaurant until the end of your meal, you are treated like a VIP, receiving personalized care and service that enhances the overall dining experience.

In addition to their regular menu, Cwtch offers special culinary creations to celebrate Saudi National Day. Indulge in the heavenly Pistachio White Chocolate Crisp Nebrow, a baked treat coated with luxurious white chocolate and sprinkled with pistachio slivers. The Grenisher’s Pistachio Mousse with white chocolate crumble is another must-try, with its dense and creamy texture that combines pistachio paste, fluffy egg whites, cream, and crumbles for a truly decadent experience.