Parvinder Singh Bali is Programmer Manager, Culinary Services at Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD), Delhi. A graduate from IHM, Kolkata and OCLD, he joined Oberoi Hotels and Resorts and then moved on to ITC Hotels. He has worked under many well-known chefs and is an expert in different international cuisines. Chef Bali is a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) from American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), a certified Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America and also a certified Chef De Cuisine from the American Culinary Federation
While researching langar food (free meals made in community kitchen) served in gurudwaras I met Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab and the scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family. He gave me a rare old manuscript with handwritten recipes in Gurumukhi. I got it translated, typed and sought his permission to do food promotions. He agreed following which I have prepared about 70-80 dishes from the book for these various promotions. The notes give basic recipes in traditional units of measurement like pao, tola, ratti and ser.
Many of the cooks working in royal palaces were not literate and hence never documented recipes. And a lot of them also didn't pass it on to the next generation which resulted in a lot of loss of these things. This has driven a lot of chefs to collate, document and promote the traditional food so as to generate awareness about it.
That much against the common perception there was no cuisine of Amritsar or Jalandhar. It was the food which was prepared in the villages of these areas. There was no daal makhni, malai kofta etc. During the Partition, people set up stalls and wondered why anybody would want to eat the daal which is marvelously prepared in their homes so the food was innovated upon. The communities of chefs are also to blame and I feel disappointed that we have projected something wrong. A lot of recipes from this area don't use red chilli and tomatoes. Using tomatoes in food came from Portuguese influences. Even in chukandarvala gosht, there is no turmeric, no tomatoes, no red chilli. The dish uses yoghurt, black pepper, beetroot. Cinnamon, black cardamom, cumin and black pepper are commonly used spices and even the whole garam masala is used only to curb the strong meat flavors.