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Recipe: Romy Gill’s Panch Photon Squash

From starting out cooking dinner parties for friends to being honoured with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to hospitality, Romy Gill’s career, like her cooking, isn’t your typical story.

An entirely self-taught cook, Romy opened her first (and the UK’s first female chef-owned) Indian restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen in 2013 at 40 years of age. Focusing on seasonal, local ingredients with recipes inspired by growing up in West Bengal, the restaurant has remained a firm favourite throughout the foodie scene. Though she prefers not to label her cooking as Indian – with good reason, the menu is full of welcome surprises – the unquestionably brilliant flavours and traditions of her heritage are mixed with influences from the world-wide cuisines, recipes she’s come into contact with throughout her life and local ingredients from in and around Bristol.

Today she’s sharing her Panch Photon Squash recipe as part of our 7 days, 7 Recipes feature to celebrate Severn Sisters Feast; the October 4th event she’s organised to raise money for Action Against Hunger by uniting 11 of the best female chefs in one, very busy, kitchen under the arches of Borough Market.

We had a quick chat to find out why food is so important to her and what advice she has for upcoming chefs trying to break into the industry before hunkering down with her warming bowl of spicy squash. Enjoy!

What does food mean to you?
“Food is very important part of my life, my parents worked hard for us to make sure we always ate well. Now, if I can help and make a difference in someone’s life using food, it gives me immense satisfaction.”

What was your earliest or most impactful memory of food?
“In the holidays we visited our grandparents and cousins, and the 24-hour train journey to get there was all about eating. Either my Mum’s picnics or when the trained stopped at the stations and we brought food from a street or station vendor – it’s the memories of those journies that I love.”

Why is it important to you to provide a platform for female talent?
“There is a lot of talent in the industry and I think it’s important to keep helping it grow and rising in some way or another. When I started I didn’t know many people or they wouldn’t help me, but I was never scared of asking. Because of this for me, it is very important to help others because we all have a place in the world to exist.”

What advice would you give to your younger self & what advice would you give to other women looking to get into the industry?
“Never be scared to ask. There are lots of ups and downs, lots of hours, and restaurant kitchens can be cruel but if you have a vision and are good at it, then you must follow it. Also, age is no restriction, I started my restaurant at the age of 40!”

Panch Photon Squash Recipe:

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WRITTEN By:
Maria Bell

Maria Bell is a photographer and editor from the Isle of Wight. Talk to her about food and/or photography and she'll always be listening.

READ MORE BY Maria Bell

ingredients

-200g butternut squash peeled and diced
-3 tsp grated ginger
-1 tsp chilli flakes
-2 tsp panch phoron( equal quantity of nigella seed, -cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds)
-1 tsp cumin powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pomegranate molasses
-3 tsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
-1 green chilli sliced for decoration
1.

Heat pan on a medium heat add oil.

2.

Once the oil is hot add panch phoron and grated ginger.

3.

Stir for a minute and add the diced butternut squash and cook for 3-4 minutes.

4.

Add pomegranate molasses, chilli flakes, cumin powder, salt and mix well

5.

Cook the squash on low heat or 10 minutes stirring continuously.

6.

Decorate with green chillies before serving.

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