Bundobust Leeds: Meet the executive chef of the culinary powerhouse that's transformed Indian dining

Bundobust burst onto the Leeds restaurant scene in 2014 - changing perceptions of Indian food.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 9th April 2022, 4:30 pm

Until then, going out for an Indian meant a traditional curry house with the usual starters, mains and desserts.

But when co-founders Mayur Patel and Marko Husak pooled together their love for Indian food and craft beer - they developed a vibrant new concept that has taken Leeds by storm.

The vegetarian menu has been lauded by some of the country's top food critics, offering Indian street food bites that are perfect for sharing.

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Gopi Singh, 30, is the executive chef at Bundobust (Photo: James Hardisty)

Gopi Singh is Bundobust's executive chef, overseeing the sites in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

The 30-year-old grew up in Punjab, India, before moving to Scotland when he was 19.

Gopi told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “When I was young, both my sisters got married and I was always helping my mum cooking. Most of the time we made vegetarian food.

"I love cooking with different spices and I love to feed other people.”

Gopi was part of the founding Bundobust team, working as a sous chef before being promoted to head chef at the Manchester restaurant (Photo: James Hardisty)

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After moving to Bradford to study a degree in architecture technology, Gopi landed a job as a tandoori chef at Prashad, the renowned Indian restaurant owned by Mayur's family.

He was part of the founding Bundobust team, working as a sous chef before being promoted to head chef at the Manchester restaurant.

Gopi said: “Leeds was our first site and when I joined them it was very small, there were only three of us.

Gopi has shared the recipe for one of his favourite Bundobust dishes - paneer tikka (Photo: James Hardisty)

"We didn’t have a big menu but slowly, we built up. We started from one small restaurant and now, we go big.

“Our main concept is Indian street food and we cook it the way we cook at home - with all the flavours, but not too much oil or too many spices. It’s more healthy and cooked with love.”

Bundobust now boasts its own brewery and taproom in Manchester, and craft beer has always been at the centre of the restaurant's offering.

"Whenever we brew new beers, we always think first about how it can be paired with the food," Gopi added.

Customers can pick and mix from a variety of street food 'munch', from aloo gobi paratha and sweetcorn chevdo to a bhaji butty and Gopi's personal favourite, paneer tikka.

There's the option to order every dish on the menu for £100, a feast for six people.

Gopi said: “In India, when guests come to your house they are like a god to you.

"You have to serve them well and that’s what we deliver with our customer service.”

Bundobust now offers a click-and-collect service from its Leeds restaurant - a product of the pandemic.

Gopi said the biggest challenge now facing the industry is the cost of supplies and the team are working hard to retain the quality of Bundobust food that customers have come to love.

“It was very tough in the beginning when the lockdown happened," Gopi added.

"We didn’t do takeaway before, but we didn’t have any option. It was hard, but no one had the solution - we had to do what we could to survive.

“Now, it’s getting back to normal. We always love to see people coming in and enjoying the food.”

How to cook Gopi's favourite dish - paneer tikka

For the paneer tikka:

350gm Greek yoghurt

1 ½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

½ lemon, Juiced

2 tbsp gram flour

4 tbsp oil, plus 2 tbsp for cooking

2 cloves of garlic

½ thumb-sized piece ginger

1 tsp ajwain seeds

2 block paneer

2 red peppers

16 chestnut mushrooms

For the red chutney:

200ml ketchup

½ red pepper

1 clove of garlic

¼ tsp red chilli powder

Pinch of salt

¼ lemon juiced

For the green chutney:

200gm yoghurt

Large handful spinach

10-12 mint leaves

1 green chilli

1 clove of garlic

Pinch of salt

Small handful of coriander

Method:

Mix the yoghurt, garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric, salt, lemon juice, gram four and oil together, ensuring there are no lumps, and all the ingredients are combined.

Then crush the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar to a fine paste, and add this to the marinade mixture.

Next add two tablespoons of oil to a small pan and heat on a high heat. Once the oil is hot, add a couple of the ajwain seeds and see if they begin to sizzle. If they do, add the rest and then turn the heat off. This makes the tarka, flavouring the oil. Add this to the marinade, but be careful as it may spit.

Keep the marinade to one side and allow it to cool. Next cut the paneer into 16 equal-sized cubes. Cut the red peppers into similar-sized pieces and clean the mushrooms with a brush, do not wash. Then add the paneer, peppers, and mushrooms to the marinade and mix through ensuring that they are all covered properly. It's best to leave it marinating overnight, but a minimum of 2 hours is recommended.

The vegetables will release some of their water, this will add to the consistency of the marinade which may be a little thick to start with. While things marinate it's time to make the chutneys.

For the red chutney:

Start by adding the ketchup, red pepper, garlic, red chilli powder, sait and lemon juice to a food processor. Blend until the red pepper has thickened the sauce. Once this is done it is best to refrigerate as it will keep a thicker consistency.

For the green chutney:

Rinse the processor and add the yoghurt, spinach, mint, green chilli, garlic, salt and coriander. Blend and chill in the same way as the red chutney.

To cook and serve:

Once marinated, skewer the paneer, peppers, and mushrooms on pre-soaked wooden skewers, distributing the ingredients evenly between eight skewers. It's best to cook them over charcoal embers - but a grill will suffice.

Turn four times so that all sides receive an even char. It should take no longer than 10 minutes.

Once cooked, drizzle over the green chutney followed by the red. Serve as it is or serve on a bed of rice or wrapped in a chapati with a simple salad of red onion, cucumber, and coriander.