LITTLE TREASURE Yummy Uganda interviewed Khana Khazana’s Head Chef Lok Bahadur to learn about his journey from the world’s highest mountain range to the city of seven hills.
orty-eight-year-old Head Chef Lok Bahadur was born in Nepal and lived most of his life in India, until Sarika Kapur, the owner of Khana Khazana and the recently opened Khana the Verandah in Muyenga, sampled his food at one of the Sheraton-owned restaurants in New Delhi. That was 10 years ago and they have been working together ever since. According to Kapur: “Chef Lok is one of several expert chefs at Khana Khazana. Each one excels in a different style, whether it is Punjabi
or Tandoor (clay oven) style cooking, curries or the griddle. Chef Lok is very good at cooking North Indian flavours, food cooked on the griddle and Mughlai flavours, which are creamy, saffron and tomato-based dishes. Chef Lok’s flavours are consistent and his experience working in large restaurants in New Delhi means he is quick at preparing dishes.” Like many young Nepalese, Chef Lok moved to India in search of opportunity. However, unlike those who learn to cook to make a living, the young Lok had developed a
passion for the trade, an unusual hobby for a young Nepalese boy. He started his cooking career in a small (by New Delhi standards) 100-seater restaurant. During the day he trained at the National Food Institute, working in the restaurant at night. Today, Chef Lok still clearly remembers the first meal he cooked for his first boss: dahl makhani and shahi paneer. Through word-of-mouth recommendations, Chef Lok graduated to work in various kitchens across Delhi. At Dumpukht, at the Maurya Sheraton, he trained in
cooking Kashmiri food, ‘sealed food’, or dum-style food. It was here at Dumpukht that he met Sarika Kapur, who invited him to come and work for her in Kampala at the Khana Khazana restaurant. Opened in 1997, Khana Khazana is a restaurant that prides itself on serving dishes to the exact taste of the customer. ‘Khana’ being Hindi for food and ‘Khazana’ meaning treasure. Chef Lok has helped train the chefs at Khazana the Verandah in Muyenga and worked at the Khana Khazana restaurant in Dar es Salaam. “Although