Rasoi Stories Leeds: Meet the head chef behind the Indian restaurant in the heart of Chapel Allerton
Housed in the old police station in the heart of Chapel Allerton is a humble restaurant that packs big flavour.
Rasoi Stories, a family-run business, takes inspiration from the length and breadth of India - from the street food of the north to the spicy curries of the south.
At the helm of the kitchen is Azad Singh, who has worked in some of the finest hotels in India.
Born in Delhi, Azad was inspired by the street food found in every corner of the city - from samosas and pani puri to chole bhature, a spicy chickpea curry served with fried bread.
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“I used to cook food for my whole family," Azad, 38, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"My mum saw that I liked to cook, so she told me to do a hotel management degree because my food was so good.
“She encouraged me to be a chef and it was my dream to travel abroad in the future.”
Azad got his first job at five-star The Bristol Hotel in Delhi, before going on to work at The Grand Hotel, the Indian Heritage Centre and The Oberoi Hotel.
With a decade of experience in Indian kitchens under his belt, he moved to the UK in 2011 and later became head chef at Indian Tiffin Room in Leeds.
But after the birth of his two young children, he left the restaurant to spend more time with his family - and was appointed head chef at Rasoi Stories last year.
Azad said: “When I had my second baby, I felt like my wife was suffering - it’s hard to care for two small children. They depend on us.
"Rasoi Stories opens at 5pm, so I have more time to be with my family and support my wife.”
Rasoi, which means kitchen in Hindi, serves an impressive range of dishes - from poppadoms and tandoori sharing plates to fish curries and biryani.
There's also a wine list and a range of cocktails on offer, including the Mumbai Mule with vodka, spiced ginger syrup, lime, mint and ginger ale.
“We have a whole range of Indian cuisine - from the north to the south," Azad added.
"And people love our street food. Curry you can find everywhere, but it’s harder to find street food.
“On my menu we have south Indian dishes like chicken madras and chicken jalfrezi, and north Indian dishes like pakora, chicken lollipop and pani puri.
"It’s a complete menu - you can find food from all over India."
The restaurant was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor in 2019, as well as the Travellers Choice award in 2020 and again in 2021, in recognition of the glowing reviews from tourists.
Azad said he will go above and beyond to make sure his customers are "100 per cent satisfied".
He added: "Sometimes the restaurant is full and you have a lot of orders on, but in those times you have to keep the passion inside.
"If you lose your passion then you will mess up everything. You have to stay calm and carry on.
“But I love being a chef simply because I love cooking. I love to feed our customers.”