Renowned chef Dipna Anand has launched her latest restaurant at Somerset House, one of London’s most stunning locations. Dipna Anand at Somerset House is a celebration of years of experience cooking authentic Indian food, which has won her industry accolades as well as guest slots on various TV shows and her own show, Dip In Kitchen.
Creating the authentic Punjabi and South Indian cuisine for which Dipna is known and loved for, the whole menu is tempting and a great way to taste a little bit of everything is a Thali. Restaurant Manager Joe Peixoto even cobbled up an off menu (and extremely well made) Masala chai for us.
We caught up with Dipna to find out more about her new venture.
How did it all start?
Having worked with Restaurant Associates for over seven years, it seemed like a natural opportunity to take on this new restaurant. I have had an ongoing relationship with Restaurant Associates, training over 30 of their chefs at a number of different venues; running cooking schools and training the chefs to make Dipna brand dishes across different venues.
Every year they renew the food offering, so the training allows a signature curry style of cooking to be taught and translated across the brand. I run pop-ups across many venues which work really well, so during the pandemic when this was all put on pause. Ben Hardiman proposed the idea of a Dipna at Somerset House which seemed like an exciting project to look forward to and take my brand to the next step.
Tell us about your food menu at Somerset House
The menu at Somerset House takes many of the favourite and classic recipes already part of the Dipna brand with Restaurant Associates, such as the popular Butter Chicken and the Masala Fries.
What about the interiors?
Somerset House naturally occupies a really grand space, so the original restaurant site has been tweaked to bring in woody and warm colours – theming it with the signature orange to match the Dipna brand. We had many meetings with interior designers working on the project and were keen to incorporate the history of my cooking using family portraits – from both my Kenyan and Indian heritage, allowing it to fit in and work with the colours already there. The crockery and serving plates bring in an element of teal blue, bringing the food to life even more.
What future signature dishes are you currently working on?
We will add the odd special to the menu seasonally, but not hugely often as the dishes currently compliment all seasons using well-sourced and local produce – which will be popular for returning diners. We have samosas and a huge range of street food dishes we will circulate season on season – including the Dipna Pali which is a one person platter allowing you to have a try of many parts of the menu.
What are your top 3 tips on making a curry at home?
Spices: Ensure you have the right spices so a good spice box is essential, as is ensuring all the spices used are of great quality.
Technique: Make sure you have the time and knowledge to properly cook out the Masala, as this makes such an important base for the food.
Finish: Always remember key things to add at the end as these compliment to dishes. For example, the Garam Masala most often needs to always be added into the cooking at the end for depth of flavour. There are also often garnishes, such as coriander, which are important to remember just before serving.
What do you like to cook at home?
At home, my mum did most of the cooking and this family cooking time is where I’ve garnered a lot of my inspiration. Cooking all day often means I don’t cook too much at home, however if I do my go to would always be simple salads or a classic roast dinner with a twist of Indian spices. I also love to make to classic Biriyanis and Pilaus.
Top 3 restaurants in London?
My top three often change but the three of my firm favourites are:
Maroush in Park Royal.
Min Jiang in Kensington.
Coya in Mayfair.
If you could award a Michelin star to someone right now, who would it be to and why?
Although she isn’t a chef in a restaurant, Mary Berry is very well deserving of a Michelin Star. She is amazing at what she does within in the food world.
What tips would you give to people who want to own restaurants?
Owning a restaurant and working in the food industry is hard so you have to be a people person and love what you do. You also need to understand that the customer is always right – this is definitely a hard mentality to have but is key to the fundamental success of a restaurant.
It’s not an easy journey and you have to be prepared to work hard and stay motivated. Being hands on and understanding every aspect of the restaurant you are opening is so important – from the back end of the kitchen to front of house. You need to be a master of everything with a combination of passion, hard work and motivation.
What is happening next for you?
The launch of Dipna at Somerset House is the big thing on my radar in 2021. I’ll be continuing with a lot of TV work, including Saturday Kitchen with James Martin for the seventh time in 2022. I’m also going to begin working on my third book and hopefully some of the new recipes can be tried and tested on the menu at Somerset House. Finally, for the first time in almost two years, cookery classes will be beginning again in January 2022 – so there really is plenty to keep me busy.
To discover more about Dipna Anand at Somerset House, visit: dipnasomersethouse.co.uk
All imagery courtesy of Dipna Anand / Dipna at Somerset House.
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