Mogul India is one of my favorite restaurants in Stavanger. It’s located on Verksgata, just above one of Stavanger’s most recognized “brown pubs”. While the exterior of Mogul (due to the pub) leaves a bit to be desired, the restaurant is currently undergoing a makeover – both inside and out. Make your way upstairs and meet Jaswant Kanwar, owner and head of the welcoming committee at Mogul India.
Mogul India’s menu features traditional dishes from different regions in India, as well as dishes with a modern twist on Indian cooking. If the peach and cumin chutney is on offer, make sure to try it. It’s one of my favorite items on the menu along with the seafood curry and palak paneer.
Jaswant was kind enough to let me interview him for Thanks For the Food.
1. Basic Info:
Your Name: Jaswant Kanwar
Restaurant Name: Mogul India Restaurant
Restaurant Address: Verksgata 9, 4013 Stavanger
Social Media: Facebook
2. What can diners expect at Mogul India? What are you known best for? Why is your restaurant special/noteworthy?
Serving traditional Indian food selected from different parts of the country and also, offers a unique ‘Tasting Menu’ which changes monthly and is a perfect way to experience India through her world of cuisine across an infinite palate of flavours.Our patrons experience an exotic blend of taste, texture and form that encompasses a wealth of regional specialities dictated by climate, location & culinary tradition along with unique creations by our chefs who bring their classical training & vast cooking experience to fuse local Norwegian ingredients with time tested regional recipes.
3. Share a bit of your history with us. Why did you choose an Indian concept and not another one?
My culinary journey started way back in 1997 when I joined Institute of Hotel Management & catering technology Bangalore, India. After having trained in Indian & classical French cuisine I joined country’s leading hotel group, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and worked with their various hotels situated in different parts of the country exposing me to the rich & vast regional Indian cuisines. I later moved on and gained immence experience working with other Industry leaders like JW Marriott & Grand Hyatt hotel groups holding various managerial positions. By this time I had already been part of three 5 star hotel pre opening teams and wanted to go out & express myself which was very difficult as most of 5 star hotels are set up with manuals written by someone sitting in a corporate office thousands of miles away.
It was then I got this golden opportunity to help my ex boss Mr. Asheesh Dewan expand his group of Indian restaurants in Dublin, Ireland. I jumped on this opportunity and moved over to Ireland where I helped him in opening three restaurants and also got to work with his partner Chef Atul Kochhar, first Indian chef to be awarded the prestigious Michelin Star. Atul made me look at Indian food in a completely different light using Indian spices & techniques fusing them with local ingredients .When the time came for me to start something of my own the country was in deep recession and I had no faith to invest my life savings in a dying economy, which I sincerely hope would recover but I didn’t see it happening in the near future. The previous owner of Mogul India and I had a common friend who introduced us and thats how I landed here. It was a very old & worn out place which has been lovingly renovated & rebranded by me & my wife,Meghna over the last two years and it now ranks in the top three restaurants in Stavanger as per Trip advisor. All this wouldn’t have been possible in such a short time without my fantastic team and our supporting patrons.
4. I’m hosting a dinner party for 6 and need something memorable to make – what do you recommend I prepare?
I would recommend you to stick to local & seasonal produce and not to be scared of experimenting with spices. You can now get hold of quality spices from Asian stores which have sprung up in various parts of the city in the last couple of years. You can try and impress your guests with ‘Tandoori Chicken’. I have enclosed a recipe for the same where you can replace traditional Tandoori clay oven with a household electric oven, it wouldn’t have the traditional smoky flavour but it would be a nice respite from all the turkey people would be eating over x mas.
5. Which meal of the day is your favorite? Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Why?
Breakfast is my absolute favourite meal as its the only meal I have on time and with my family. One of the downside of working in this industry is odd working hours and bad eating habits, I end up tasting so much food at work that I rarely have lunch and dinner is very late in the night. I love simple food cooked by my lovely wife and fast food is a strict no for me. Give me a humble dal(lentils dish) & roti (whole wheat bread) and I am a happy man but at the same time eating out means so much more to me than just a means to satisfying hunger, if i don’t see passion & love in the dish served to me its a turn off.
Cooking healthy food is not that difficult though its definitely a bit more expensive here than other places, if you love making Indian food you can always prepare your base curry without adding any meat or vegetables to it and freeze it in smaller portions and use as and when required.
7. How do you see the restaurant scene changing over the next few years in Stavanger? In the country as a whole?
I guess the restaurant scene is going to change drastically over the next few years here with lots of new chefs trying to enter this hot oil driven market but only the ones who offer quality and value for money would succeed. More & more locals are traveling abroad and with a huge inflow of expats who have seen better, the market is only going to get more demanding in the coming days. There is still a lot of scope for new and exciting concepts here & you never know we might be opening something exciting in the near future.
All images courtesy of Mogul India Restaurant Stavanger.