Marylebone Talks... Chef Ravinder Bhogal
We sat down with Ravinder Bhogal, British chef, food writer and stylist, and founder of new local Marylebone favourite ‘Jikoni’. The restaurant takes its influences from Britain, East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia and is, as she puts “simply the kind of food I love to cook and eat with friends and family at home”. Bhogal tells us about why she loves Marylebone and where you should really enjoy the best of food in London, including her top Indian restaurant recommendation!
Until now you have been a journalist, a host, an author. Has owning a restaurant always been a plan?
The restaurant was really the plan that found me. I certainly didn’t plan to open a restaurant early on, but once I found myself on the pop up scene, the idea was definitely seeded.
What do you think about the journey of Asian/Indian food in the UK.
I think it is the best it has ever been. I love the honesty that restaurants like Gunpowder and Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express are bringing to Indian food – no flavour is diluted and every spice is honoured. I am so glad that we are finally being able to taste dishes that were normally reserved for Indian home cooking on restaurant menus.
But you don’t categorise Jikoni as an Indian restaurant?
No – Jikoni is a mixed heritage maternal restaurant. It takes inspiration from my heritage – East African, British, Indian and Persian and my wider travels.
What is the inspiration behind Jikoni? And why did you choose Marylebone?
The inspiration behind Jikoni is nostalgic memories of home, my grandfather for his passion and generosity, and I suppose it is a love note to all the women who have been generous enough to share their kitchen wisdom with me. I chose Marylebone because I always anted to open in a neighbourhood where we could really get to know our guests. I love the community spirit in Marylebone.
Other than Jikoni, what are your favorite restuarants in London? And where do you go for a good Indian meal?
I love the Modern Pantry because Anna Hansen is such a brilliantly clever cook – I am in awe of her dishes. The Delauney and the Wolsley because it feels like nothing bad could ever happen while you are there and the service is always impeccable, Padella because like Sophia Loren – everything you see I owe to spaghetti, and Spring because it is all about the dreamiest ingredients – I had my wedding reception there. For Indian food, there is no better place to go than Darjeeling Express. Asma’s food is not only delicious, but it has heart.
When you eventually get time to relax running a restaurant, what is your ideal day in Marylebone?
A rummage in La Fromagerie – I have an unbridled respect for Patricia and what she has achieved – buying from her shop is always exciting because her love of food really comes through in what she stocks. I love eating Sachertorte at Fischer’s, a glass of wine and charcuterie at our neighbours Blandford Comptoir and shopping for fashion and interiors at Sandro and the Conran Store. Although I am not Christian myself, I also love the peaceful sanctum of St Marylebone’s Parish where I had my wedding blessing and St James’ on Spanish Place – the architecture in both is awe inspiring. I also love a walk around the Wallace Collection.
19 – 21 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 3DH
Phone: 020 7034 1988