Chef Pawan Bisht On His Love For Uttarakhand Cuisine & More
Image Credit: instagram/Pawan Bisht

At a recent pop-up in Delhi’s Verandah Moonshine, Chef Pawan Bisht, the restaurant’s Culinary Advisor, gave diners a true taste of Uttarakhand—one that those beyond the Himalayan region rarely, if ever, get to experience. Even in a time when aspects of hyperlocal Indian cuisines, like the use of millets and wild grains, is taking the world of food by storm, there is not much that people outside Uttarakhand know about the region’s cuisine. Chef Pawan Bisht is hoping to change all that.  

But how did a young man from Chhuri in Uttarakhand, a small village near Corbett National Park, become one of the leading professional chefs in India’s--and especially Delhi’s--thriving commercial food scene? In an exclusive chat with Slurrp, Bisht opened up about his culinary journey and his love for Uttarakhand cuisine. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Uttarakhand Tourism

The Making Of A Modern Indian Chef 

It all started with his choice to leave home and make his way to the Indian Institute of Hospitality & Management (IIHM), Mumbai, where he trained in European cuisine. He then worked with Olive Bar & Kitchen, was a part of the team that opened SodaBottleOpenerWala, and then moved to Delhi to lead the kitchens of Junglee Billee in Greater Kailash. He then joined restaurateur Ankit Tayal in 2016 to start off with projects like One8 Commune by Virat Kohli and Neuma by Karan Johar. 

Clearly, opportunities for immense fame have never been far away from Bisht throughout his incredible journey. And yet, he chooses to keep a rather low profile, keeping his eye fixed on food rather than fame. Now that he has left this company, what is his prime focus? “I left because I wanted to do something around regional cuisine, specifically Uttarakhand cuisine,” he explains. “I’ve opened my own company with a partner, called Vinpa Hospitality Private Ltd, which deals with hospitality management and consulting. And I am continuing with my role as Culinary Advisor at Verandah Moonshine in Delhi.” 

The interest in regional cuisines of India, for Bisht, is nothing new. “My hardcore training as a chef was all about European cuisine, and then SodaBottleOpenerWala happened,” he says, adding that he travelled extensively throughout Maharashtra to understand the local cuisines and cooking techniques. “For Junglee Billee also, I travelled extensively to pick up regional cuisine nuances that could be brought commercially for posh GK diners. I entered what you may call World Cuisine when I joined Ankit Tayal. This is how my expertise grew.” 

Shining The Light On Uttarakhand Cuisine 

“I have always done a fusion of regional cuisines with global cuisines because there is a clear customer demand for this sort of food,” he says. “And still, personally, I would like nothing better than to be able to serve authentic regional cuisines exactly the way it is served in the region it comes from—though with a modern plating perhaps.” His interest in showcasing Uttarakhand cuisine with this funda in mind, in case you don’t follow Bisht on Instagram, came to the forefront first during the COVID-19 pandemic. His feed was full of the rarest of Uttarakhand ingredients, dishes and even cooking techniques, encompassing some of the healthiest and tastiest gems from the region. 

The point, Bisht says, is that these foods are not commercially available in Uttarakhand itself, forget beyond the region! “Uttarakhand’s food is really simple, really tasty and most of it is still purely homemade and seasonal,” he explains. “I guarantee you that it is one of the healthiest cuisines India has but has not seen or explored. My thinking is, why should only the people of Uttarakhand and the Himalayan region benefit from these local, healthy and tasty ingredients. So, my focus is to get these ingredients and dishes to the commercial food space so that both Uttarakhand’s producers and diners beyond the region can benefit.” 

This, he says, is the direction his new venture Vinpa is exploring. “Vinpa is all about getting all these regional cuisines to metropolitan cities,” he says, attributing this as the main reason why he partnered with Viineet Tushirr for it. “Right now, we are providing consultations to restaurants in Mumbai, Kathmandu and Uttarakhand. We are developing a segment which will focus on organic produce from Uttarakhand made available to consumers all over through a portal.” The future, he says, certainly holds many opportunities for restaurants that will feature Uttarakhand cuisine and ingredients. 

Exploring The Bounty Of Uttarakhand Cuisine 

“But I’m not in a hurry,” he says. “I want to build this gradually so that people from the metropolitan cities gain awareness about this regional cuisine and benefit from it instead of just picking it up as a short-term trend.” And there is a lot to pick up too. For example, Uttarakhand not only has incredible varieties of millets to offer but also ingredients like Bhatt (a soybean variant), Kafal (bayberry), Lingora (an asparagus variant), Kilmora (barberry), Hisalu and hemp that are as yet to be explored by chefs and experts beyond the region. At the recent pop-up at Verandah Moonshine, Bisht did give people a glimpse into the dishes and flavours this cuisine boasts of. But there is a long way to go.  

And while he is working on opening an Uttarakhand cuisine restaurant in Delhi—and hoping to open it by the end of this year—Bisht is continuing on his effort to educate foodies and home cooks about the food from Uttarakhand. To do this, he shared his signature recipe for Pahadi Chicken. Check it out and give it a try! 

Pahadi Chicken Recipe


500gms chicken with bone, cut into medium size pieces 

1/2 cup mustard oil 

1 tsp cumin seeds    

1 nos. black cardamom   

1 nos. mace  

1 nos. cinnamon stick 

2 nos. bay leaf 

2 nos. green cardamom  

2 cups chopped onion  

1/2 cup chopped tomato  

1/2 cup fresh ginger garlic paste   

3 tbsp coriander powder  

1 tbsp red chilli powder              

1 tsp turmeric powder           

2 tbsp garam masala             

Salt, to taste  

Chopped fresh coriander  


1. Clean and wash the chicken. Keep aside. 

2. Take a kadai or any cooking vessel. Put on a slow heat. 

3. Pour the oil. Once oil is heated add all the whole masalas (cumin seeds, black cardamom, mace, cinnamon, bayleaf, cardamom). 

4. Sauté well. Once the oil if flavoured with whole masala add the onion and cook till golden colour. 

5. Add ginger garlic paste once the onion is sautéed well. 

6. Cook well and finally add the chopped tomatoes. 

7. Sautee well and add all the powder masala one by one and cook well till the mixture leaves the oil. 

8. Now add chicken and mix it well with the masala. 

9. Cover it well with a lid and let it simmer till the chicken leaves all the water. 

10. Keep stirring in between. Once the chicken is almost done add hot water and adjust seasoning and consistency. 

11. At last, sprinkle the fresh chopped coriander and serve hot with chapati or steamed rice.