Five Minutes With Gunpowder’s Harneet Baweja

Marking the triumph of good over evil with light-filled, firework-laden celebrations and lavish feasts, the Hindu festival of Diwali is much welcome as the days shorten and the chills set in. Ahead of this year’s festival on 30 October, Gunpowder‘s founder Harneet Baweja shares his memories and festive plans – and tells us what it means to have a Bib Gourmand.

Diwali in Calcutta was always a family affair
During the day all the neighbourhood kids would get together and decorate the area outside each house with candles, flowers and rangoli (traditional floor paintings). Then we’d get changed into our new clothes and light firecrackers in the neighbourhood with all our families, and finish up inside with a big meal for our whole extended family.

Food is a huge part of Diwali festivities
Biryani is the dish I most closely associate with the celebrations. This year at Gunpowder, we’re replicating the big feast I miss so much from home. On 19 October, we’ll use a whole lamb to make a range of sharing dishes which compliment our vegetarian options – including masala and whiskey bone marrow; minced lamb and pea doughnuts; and our signature Kashmiri chops.

The festival’s extra-important to Gunpowder
We opened the restaurant in East London on Diwali last year, so the festival is now even more special to our team. My wife Devina and I try and do something special with the Gunpowder family and a few of our close friends.

Sweets at Diwali are like chocolate at Easter

Don’t get me started on my favourites. Fat, round ladoos; rice pudding-like kheer; sticky, syrup-soaked jalebis… I could go on.

I have the perfect cocktail to toast the occasion
Whisky is hugely popular in India –  for Diwali, I’d lace Darjeeling tea with a good dose of Laphroaig.

With our new Michelin Bib Gourmand, there’s a lot to toast
We received a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2017 within a year of opening Gunpowder. It has truly been a humbling journey so far; the whole team feels that the accolade is also a responsibility, and we should continue to focus on quality and push the envelope, introducing more local ingredients and authentic flavours.

Gunpowder’s customers come first
Whilst a Michelin star would be wonderful, I think we need to take it a step at a time. We owe our patrons a lot; they’ve been so supportive of our restaurant and that makes us very proud and grateful. We want to continue to satisfy them with our best efforts -hopefully that approach will naturally move us in the right direction.

Gunpowder’s Diwali Lamb Feast takes place on 19 October. To find out more, click here

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