Kal Randhawa is a woman of many talents and she can now add professional chef to her list of accomplishments.
With no formal training as a cook, the chef at Kals’ Naan Stop learned how to cook Indian food from her grandmother and mother.
“My grandmother had me in her lap as she was cooking,” said Randhawa, adding that she was inspired to open the restaurant with her two sons, Pavin and Pratab Sidhu, after the compliments she received on her cooking from family and friends.
Before starting her cooking career, Randhawa spent time working at Safeway and as a wedding photographer. A resident of Vernon for 41 years, she moved to Canada when she was seven.
“I was trained by my grandmother, aunts and mother,” she said. “My kids and everyone around us were always telling me how good of a cook I was — I just know I was born into it.”
Specializing in Indian fusion cuisine, Kals’ Naan Stop is about to celebrate its first anniversary. Pratab Sidhu said business has been booming, with many of customers discovering the restaurant on 32nd Street through word of mouth.
He said his mother’s passion for cooking is matched by the enthusiasm customers have shown when they try her food.
“People tell you that they’ve been to India and that your food is better — that’s the best line I’ve ever heard. We get that about the pakhoras all the time, said Sidhu of the fried snack which the restaurant offers in both vegetarian and seafood options.
The compliment took his mom by surprise.
“I’ve lived here for 41 years and you hear it and think ‘Really? Seriously?’” she said.
From the tandoori chicken pizza and samosas, to the lamb curry and prawn masala, everything at Kals’ Naan Stop is made fresh and on site. Customers have the option of enjoying their meal at the restaurant, either inside or on the recently opened outdoor patio. Take-out is also available.
Sidhu recommends the butter chicken.
“It’s a huge seller and it just tastes the best,” he said.
They also have Indian-style pizzas made from hand-made dough.
“The difference is in the sauce,” he said, adding that wherever possible, local ingredients are used in the restaurant’s signature dishes. “Like Armstrong chicken and stuff like that.”
A lot of work goes into prepping a meal, as each dish is made from scratch.
“Just like our family, people want healthier options, so we cook it the way we cook it at home,” said Randhawa.
Customers can also choose the level of spice for their meals. The restaurant makes the dish and adds spice at the end, based on a customer’s choice of heat on a scale from one to 10.
“People walk in and get scared because when you think of Indian food you think of spicy,” said Sidhu.
Kals’ also offers wine from Kalala Organic Estate Winery in West Kelowna, owned by Karnail Singh Sidhu and family and named for the village where he was born in northern India.
“Kalala knows what to pair with Indian food,” said Randhawa.
Meanwhile, as the restaurant’s first anniversary approaches, the Vernon chef continues to embody the Kals’ Naan Stop philosophy: cook with passion and a hit of modernity; source good fresh produce — leave out the artificial flavours; blend it with time-honoured traditional family and regional recipes.