Bishal Rasaily

As a child, the head chef at Dishoom Birmingham, Bishal Rasaily, admits he was a fussy eater – until his aunt stepped in and sparked an interest which eventually led to him working with some of the greatest chefs of Indian cuisine 

Tell us about your cooking

My cooking style is simple food cooked from my heart, my mind and my memories. Understanding your ingredients is very important to be able to produce great taste and flavours. What excites me is keeping a traditional dish as your base and then mixing and matching the spices – underpinned with an understanding of what it does to the taste, flavour, and the body – until you get something interesting and playful that makes sense. 

How did you become a chef?

I was a very fussy eater as a child, so my family – especially my aunt – would try different twists on my usual meals to try and encourage me to eat. Because of her, I became fascinated and intrigued by the process of cooking, the ingredients used and the taste that was created – and I became more involved with cooking at home. This gave me an amazing opportunity to learn about eastern spices, herbs and recipes at an early age. After school and college, I undertook a diploma in hotel management which gave me opportunities to work in 5-star hotels in India where I learned from some of the greatest chefs of Indian cuisine. 

What do you eat at home?

Something simple and fresh. Nowadays, I have to cook food from various cuisines to satisfy my eight-year-old son as he likes trying different cuisines. His favourites at the moment are Chinese and Korean. 

Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?

I admire chefs like Alain Ducasse who operate dozens of restaurants without compromising on quality. Also, Pierre Koffmann and the Roux family for the love and passion they have for their craft. However, in my personal experience the very best chef in the world is the legendary grand master chef of Indian cookery Imtiaz Qureshi (who I was lucky enough to work under). In Birmingham, I think Glynn Purnell and Luke Tipping are incredibly exciting chefs, and Dan Lee is most definitely one to watch. 

Share a cooking tip

Nutritious and healthy food needs time both before and during cooking. For example, the soaking of rice and lentils is very important. The longer it takes time to grow in nature the more time it needs to do good for you. And using all your senses to taste and adjust your dish at every stage is important. 

What was your favourite food as a kid?

Momo! A meat dumpling encased in flour pastry, steamed, and served with a light soup. This is a Tibetan influence in Nepali cuisine eaten with dale chilli (a type of chilli found in the Himalayan ranges near Nepal and Darjeeling) and served with roasted tomato chutney. 

Food heaven and food hell?

Heaven is fresh home cooked food, especially vegetarian dishes, eaten with loved ones. Hell would be something overcooked and reheated, with no life (prana) left in it.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?

Goat testicle. I absolutely would not recommend! 

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

Maybe a schoolteacher in my hometown in Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Northeast India. Or, a painter – my portrait and abstract works won some awards when I was growing up.

Dishoom, One Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3AX. Tel: 0121 809 5986,