Toronto has turned out to be Canada’s most treasured curry destination with the esteemed and prestigious annual gala dinner which celebrates the lively South Asian culture and the culinary craftsmanship of the Desis in the city. The honors commend this rich legacy, featuring the best examples of South Asian cuisine and adoring the restaurateurs who are committed to serving up some of the best mouthwatering dishes. Block your calendars for June 26th from 6 – 11:30 pm (EDT) when the Toronto Curry Awards 2018 will be presented. Making the all-important decision was a mystery panel of judges, each of whom was assigned a shortlist of curry establishments to grade against strict criteria. We got in touch with one of the judges for the awards – Harminder Singh Magon for an exclusive sneak peek into all the buzz that the Toronto Curry Awards has been creating.
Exposed to rich tastes of Punjabi kitchen during his early childhood, Harminder Singh Magon starting sharing his expert culinary innovations on a cooking show – Cook with Mag back in the 80’s. International cuisine was the main highlight of the show and it broadcasted for 9 years. He is now working as a freelance cooking instructor, special event caterer, restaurant and menu consultant, and product developer.
For the Toronto Curry Awards Magon followed a grading sheet which had criteria like, “whether you were greeted properly, were you seated properly, did the waiter know the items on the menu, did you get chilled water and others including the condition of the washrooms and checking if they were clean and had soap etc., as mainly Desi restaurants have this issue.”
For Harminder Singh Magon food has always been central to his existence. “My grandfather and my dear dad were the two giants and true foodie souls. They were the greatest inspiration for me who influenced me at a very early age to get me into the kitchen to cook and explore the wonderful world of exotic cuisines.”
“From my early childhood, I was introduced to fine refined tastes of the Punjabi kitchen. Some of the recipes were centuries old and originated from the early 16th century up until the mid-1700’s, Mogul era when these powerful warlords ruled northern India.”
“Every evening after a hard day’s work in the family business, my grandfather and father looked forward to perfection in their meals. My mother and my aunts who were charged with preparing the meals and they had to face the daily challenges of meeting my grandfather’s high standards. The challenge also lay in blending the native tastes of East Africa with the European cuisine of the day, without sacrificing the unique spices and sauces of Punjab. So fusion cooking has been practiced for a long time in my household. The fact that my mother was born in Sumatra and raised in Bangkok, Thailand added yet another flavourful dimension to our palates.”
When he came to Canada in 1966, he felt lost, missed his mother’s cooking and was craving for traditional food. He reminisces, “I tried making rice and ended up burning it. Even the pot was hard to clean, I thought I would sharpen my cooking skills. I started making dal and curry with meat. I was living in Saskatoon – I had family in Africa and wanted to explore our food in other countries. I wanted to replicate and add my own touch. I went to restaurants and concocted my own recipes, I didn’t write it down, I just had it in my head.”
It was only a natural progression that his passion for food compelled him to author the book, My Epicurean Journey, as a tribute and a legacy for his children and grandchildren to enjoy for decades to come.
“My first grandchild wanted to be in the kitchen with me and wanted to chop carrots with me. So I thought I should teach these kids our legacy. My wife suggested that I write it all down. So 8 years ago I started jotting down the recipes. It took me 6 years to complete it and I’m very proud of my book.”
It is his desire to see his family’s younger generation keep this tradition alive through their kitchens and share the fruits of their devotion with all around them. “I would love to share that my 4-year-old granddaughter Kira requested that I start writing my next book that incorporates the food we enjoyed during our recent family vacation in Maui, Hawaii.”
We wish the same and are excited to try out some of the fabulous recipes from Harminder Singh Magon’s My Epicurean Journey. Click on this link to get your copy – https://www.doctandoori.com/products