Cooking Chicken Tikka with the Chef at Chicago’s Kama Bistro Restaurant: Kitchen Edition
- Sarah Gurr
- 3 Min Read
Welcome to the premiere of Kitchen Edition!
Did you know that there are only 5,000 Indian food restaurants (at last count) in the United States? One of the highlights of that group is Kama Bistro, in La Grange Illinois, just outside of Chicago. They are known for cooking up Indian food that converts skeptics into Indian food lovers. And that’s no small feat.
Vikram Singh launched Kama Bistro eight years ago. And it’s been growing ever since. More and more, his team is catering events throughout the Chicago area, so much so that he has a catering kitchen in the works. The food is so good that regulars routinely travel to the suburbs for a meal.
In our first episode of Kitchen Edition, we catch up with Chef Singh to talk about Indian food, to learn what drives his restaurant and catering success, and, of course, to cook. Together we make his famous Chicken Tikka Masala and get a taste of Kama Bistro’s “secret” ingredients to this family recipe.
Watch the premiere episode of Kitchen Edition to find out just how it’s made.
Cooking Chicken Tikka with the Chef at Chicago’s Kama Bistro Restaurant: Our First Episode of Kitchen Edition
JACOBS: Hi. I’m Laura from ezCater, and this is Kitchen Edition. I’m here at Kama Bistro in La Grange, Illinois, about 13 miles outside of downtown Chicago. They’re known for turning skeptics into Indian food lovers. They combine Indian cuisine with French, Latin, and American influences, to make some of the best Indian food that Chicago has. So, let’s go check them out. I’m here today with Vikram of Kama Bistro. Vikram, we’re so excited to be here.
SINGH: Oh, you’re welcome.
JACOBS: So, tell me a little bit about how you started Kama Bistro. How did the idea come about?
SINGH: I didn’t do it right away, and I just became a management consultant, landed other jobs, and as soon as I realized, “Well, I’m done with that, the corporate, you know, routine,” I said, “I’m going to start a restaurant.” It’s been eight years, we’ve grown from a 40-seater to now, it’s going to be about a 180-seater.
JACOBS: That’s amazing. And I know we’re cooking some dishes today. What are we making?
SINGH: Yes, yes. What we are going to be doing is we’re going to be touching two aspects of Indian cooking. One is a sauce, and one is a grill. And this sauce is chicken tikka masala. Chicken tikka masala is, frankly, the simplest but the most delicious sauce to make. You really have to boil it down, and it has to become thick, and all the water has to go, so you really get a concentrated taste of tomatoes. You can tell how thick it is by how the bubbles appear at the top. And then, what you do after this is, you add some cream, and then you take it down again. And then you add butter in the end, and then you add some seasoning, and it’s ready to go.
JACOBS: No shortcuts here.
SINGH: No shortcuts. Cooking tomatoes is — brings the sweetness of the tomatoes out a little bit, and I think it just balances the sauce. The customers, (inaudible) they got a sauce that was made literally an hour ago, and I think that’s kind of what we have promised to our customers, and we have kept that promise. You see, it’s getting thicker, so now I’m going to basically add some cream to it. So, we’re going to add some of our secret ingredient.
JACOBS: I know we’ve some received some reviews on ezCater saying — people always want to know where the catering’s from and that’s probably because of the secret ingredient here.
SINGH: This is a secret ingredient, for sure. It is our family recipe. And this is fenugreek — it’s dried fenugreek leaves. Smell it.
JACOBS: Wow, that’s a delicious and unique smell.
SINGH: This is kind of –what makes chicken tikka masala chicken tikka masala.
SINGH: So, we still use a tandoor, which is a charcoal grill. All our meats are cooked in this grill. It’s a traditional way of cooking. It cooks on the outside very quickly and keeps the inside very moist; it gets up to temperature without losing moisture. So, for chicken tikka masala — chicken tikka basically means chicken breasts cooked in the tandoor. What Indian cuisine does very well is bring different taste elements together. So, in every sauce, you will have some kind of a balance between sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and the spiciness.
JACOBS: Oh, my gosh. This looks so good, Vikram.
SINGH: Hope you like it.
JACOBS: Mm, love it. This is delicious.
SINGH: Thank you, thank you. Again, fresh, made fresh, grilled fresh, and you’re eating right when it’s made.
JACOBS: And we saw it all here.
SINGH: That’s the hallmark of all good food, and especially Indian food.
JACOBS: Hashtag delicious.
Want to try Kama Bistro’s Chicken Tikka for yourself?