Mob Meets... Romy Gill

Interested in learning more about Indian-born, British-bred chef, Romy Gill? We spoke to the Ready Steady Cook star about her latest cookbook and more.
Romy Gill Matt Inwood
Romy Gill – chef, food and travel writer, broadcaster and former restaurateur. Photography: Matt Inwood

Romy Gill – chef, food and travel writer, broadcaster and former restaurateur – hit up the Mob studio to make us her signature samosas the other week. And let me tell you, they were ridiculously good. Recognised for her appearances on the BBC's Ready Steady Cook, along with Sunday Brunch, The One Show, Country Life, and Celebrity MasterChef (to name a few), she was also appointed an MBE in 2016.

We sat her down to talk about her recent cookbook; On The Himalayan Trail, the one dish she wish *everyone* had the chance to taste, and what she’s working on right now. Here’s what happened when Mob met Romy Gill.

What’s The One Ingredient You Can’t Live Without?


If There Was One Dish You Wish Everyone Had The Chance To Taste, What Would It Be?

It has to be Indian street food. Samosa chaat, aloo chaat or papdi chaat. Anything with chaat. I think it’s full of zest, it's full of flavours, deep flavours. And it’s super cheap. If you're having street food, you can understand the flavours of India.

Talk Us Through Your Cookbooks. Where Did You Get Your Inspiration From?

I think with the first book, Zaika, the reason I did plant-based food was because that was the way I grew up in India. That’s the food we ate. I’m Punjabi, so that’s what we used to eat at home. Meat wasn’t something we ate every day, it was once a month or for celebrations. It wasn’t a necessity. Indian food is very regional. Indian food cooked in households is very different from one another. Also, the spices might seem the same, but the way, the method, and the techniques change and you have to understand that every state will have their own spice blends. It's not just the garam masala.

I wanted to share that in India, plant-based just happens. We don’t make a big deal about it. Nowadays, if you look at vegan or plant-based food, so much is processed. People don't understand that when you pick up a vegetable, you can cook it really, really well in different ways. I think now, not just because of Indian food, there is also other food from China, food from Japan, and anywhere in the world. Chefs are understanding – and the hospitality industry, in general, is understanding – that the food you can cook with vegetables is as delicious. I think the whole point of writing Zaika was about that. I wanted people to change their mindset about vegetables.

And then came On The Himalayan Trail. On The Himalayan Trail, I was very, very lucky that Suitcase Magazine sent me in 2016 to go to Ladakh. That, for me, was when I became a food and travel writer. Up until then, I used to write recipes and things like that, but I had never written about food and travel together.

I wanted to share how food in Kashmir is different and how the food in Ladakh is different. I think On The Himalayan Trail taught me: we make pasta there, we make dumplings which are called momos in some parts. I think, for me, it was a journey that I, as a chef and travel writer, wanted to learn. I wanted to learn that part of the cuisine, where it comes from, why it’s broth-based and what are we eating. You know, I can learn from the people. I wanted to tell their stories because what we hear about Kashmir is always “there's war going on”, “there's terrorism going on,” there's something going on.

Writing this book, a lot of people emailed me and said that in the eighties they used to go to India, to Kashmir, and would say “Aw, you brought those memories back to us.” It’s the story of the people, it's their stories, it's their recipes. They've given it to me to share with the world that we have a cuisine, which is not just about butter chicken. We have a cuisine that is also so rich in culture and just generally wonderful. So, for me, the inspiration has always come from wanting to write about the history of India. Writing about the food and people's stories, people's recipes.

How Did You Find The Process Of Writing Your Second Cookbook? Was It Easier?

It took me 10 years for publishers to say yes and give me a book deal. It wasn't easy. It hasn't been easy. But it's much easier now, because Zaika did well, which opened doors for me.

Do You Miss Running A Restaurant?

I do, I do miss it. The buzz of it. The buzz that I got from feeding people walking through those doors. But what I don’t miss is the stress of staffing. I couldn't do certain things when I had the restaurant, I wasn't able to do TV here and there. Now, I do a lot of TV, I do events every month and I still do my catering. So yes, I miss saying it's my baby, but at the same time I don't overly miss it as I’m still in these environments on a regular basis.

Would You Consider Opening A New Restaurant?

I will, I would definitely. It's in the pipeline and it has to be in London, it's not going to be anywhere else.

How Do You Find The World Of Social Media?

I mean, I'm learning. I think the thing is, I don't have a huge amount of followers. The followers that I have are really good. They will listen to me, buy my stuff. But I'm trying to explore. I don't think it's easy, it doesn't come easy for me. I find it really difficult because there's always new technologies, changes in the algorithm - I don't understand. I did learn one thing from Tiktok though, because my daughters have Tiktok and they showed me this thing that's a wrap where you fold the corners and put different fillings in.

Is There Another Cookbook Lined Up?

Yes. I'm writing my third book, with Hardie Grant. It's all about my roots, where I grew up, the food that I ate with my friends, and the food my mum and dad used to cook for me. It's about my journey to becoming a chef. And it’s looking to be published next year, spring 2024.

It's a very personal book, but I think it's the right time for that book.

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