‘British national dish is now known to be chicken tikka masala’: Dipna Anand

BW HOTELIER had a one-on-one conversation with Dipna Anand, a renowned celebrity chef and the co-owner of London-based Brilliant Restaurant.

What got you started in your culinary journey? How did the idea behind Brilliant conceptualise? 

I have been fortunate enough to be born into a family of chefs and restaurateurs and thus it’s fair to say cooking is in my blood. My grandfather opened the first Brilliant Restaurant, nightclub and hotel in Kenya, Nairobi in the 1950’s and my father then opened the first restaurant in the UK in 1975, carrying forward the Brilliant name and legacy set out by my grandfather. Since then for us as a business, things have accelerated and grown. I took a keen interest in the food world from a young age and used to help dad at the restaurant whilst growing up. This further grew my passion for food and hospitality, and I pursued it by taking Food Technology as a subject in college. Now, I run my own cookery school from the restaurant, I am an author of two cookbooks and also the brand chef for The Compass Contract Caterer Group. I continue on my culinary journey by keeping the flag high for Punjabi food in the UK. 

How popular is Indian cuisine in the UK? How do you see the opportunities in the UK market?

Indian food in the UK is an all-time favourite. In fact, the British national dish is now known to be chicken tikka masala and has overtaken Fish and Chips too. The British love affair with Indian cuisine is surely one that is here to stay and in Britain alone today, there are said to be almost 10,000 Indian restaurants from 32 different regional cuisines. As a result, opportunities in the UK market for Indian restaurants continue to grow. Not only does the British public enjoy the authentic Indian curry dishes but are also intrigued by the Indian street food concept as well as Tandoori cooking. It’s a cuisine that’s here to stay and the Brits cannot stay without their curry for sure!

What are your plans for the Indian market?  How do you intend to adapt your menu to the Indian market?

Our plan as a restaurant has always been to continue to better ourselves over the years. We have been established for 45 years now and our success is due to hard work, dedication and passion. It would be very inspiring and motivating for me to bring the Brilliant Restaurant concept to India. We specialise in Punjabi food with a Kenyan twist and I think if this was introduced in India, it would take off straight away. I would implement the same menu as I have in Southall to India and keep to the same recipes that date back to over 70 years. The restaurant here is very much family run and if I opened up in India, I would like to keep the same concept where in once you visit, you become part of the family. The Brilliant brand speaks for itself and I would not immensely or drastically change anything just to suit the Indian market. It has to be the Brilliant concept just as it is.

What are your expansion plans? Any new venture that you would like to invest in? 

I have not thought of any expansion plans as yet. However, if I was approached and the concept was right, I would not hesitate to pursue it. I am very keen to also do pop up events/collaborations to test the waters in different countries and if something works well, I would be very keen to continue it further. If an opportunity in India arises, I would no doubt love to explore it. India is my favourite holiday destination and I know I would be ecstatic to open up a place of my own here. I would also be keen to explore the ready meal market or the meal kit market abroad. Opening up a cookery school or collaborations with contract caterers is also an option. I am open to ideas. Throw them at me!

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