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How pastry chef Ravneet Gill blends family tradition into modern desserts

Professional pastry chef Ravneet Gill joins House & Garden for our latest episode of ‘A Slice of Life’ — a series where we explore a professional chef’s life through their signature cooking style and love of food. During this episode, Ravneet explains how she blends her African-Indian family roots with her Le Cordon Bleu pâtissier training, whilst taking us through each step of creating her unique rice pudding dish. As Ravneet prepares the dish, she reminisces about her early influences: “I grew up eating kheer, which is an Indian version of a rice pudding. When I’d go to the Gurdwara as a kid, we’d spend a lot of time there — there were always women stirring a massive pot of kheer over the stove”. After working through the ranks as a pastry chef, Ravneet learned to fuse her background in Indian cooking and her new training: “After working in restaurants, I learned the English way of making a traditional rice pudding, and I kind of put the two together”. Watch the full episode of A Slice of Life, as Ravneet Gill makes her signature rice pudding dish, whilst giving us an insight into her everyday cooking style.

Released on 10/21/2022


[Ravneet] I think my love of food

has changed throughout my life.

[upbeat music]

My cooking style is completely different

from my family's cooking style,

because my mom,

she kind of just like wings it,

does what she likes,

and everything is spicy,

which I love,

but I think that I've got a better way

of balancing different food with different flavors.

They're not just chili.

[upbeat music]

Today, I'm gonna be making rice pudding,

and it's my take on a rice pudding.

[bright music]

I grew up eating kheer,

which is an Indian version of a rice pudding.

And when I'd go to the gurdwara as a kid,

we'd spend a lot of time there.

There were always women

stirring a massive pot of kheer over the stove,

and it would always have cardamom in it,

it'd be super milky,

and I'd ignore everything else,

and just try and get a bowl of that.

I love it so much.

And then after working in restaurants,

I learnt the English way

of making a traditional rice pudding,

and I kind of have put the two together,

and now my mom actually loves my rice pudding,

whereas before she'd be like,

the kheer is better.

Right, to begin,

we're gonna need like a good amount of dairy.

I've got some lovely whole milk,

and some cream, butter,

only a little bit of sugar,

the pudding rice,

and some excellent cardamom pods,

and some vanilla.

I'm gonna cook this over the stove in a cast iron pot,

then I'm gonna put it into the oven.

And I love these pots because they circulate heat so well,

but like traditionally,

my mom would be like,

what are you doing?

This is so expensive,

we're not cooking in this.

[Ravneet laughing]

So, at home or like at the temple,

we would just do it in massive steel pots,

and it would be fine.

And you can cook the whole thing over the stove,

but I love it like low and slow in the oven.

I think it's less harsh,

and it also gives you time to make your custard

that you're gonna fold in.

If you came into my house right now,

you'd find me like in this vicinity,

because you can get into the oven,

and you can clean at the same time.

So I'm always around here,

like cooking something,

going into the oven,

rolling and then cleaning, you know?

This is a worn down area.

I feel like most of my daydreaming

is thinking about the future kitchen that I want to have.

[Ravneet chuckling] And it's not just one kitchen,

it's two kitchens in the house,

the show kitchen and the prep kitchen.

[Ravneet laughing]

So I'm gonna crush up some cardamom pods,

and I love spices,

but, in my mind you have to buy them in big sacks

from the international supermarket.

[bright music]

I've just crushed two really lightly,

and it's gonna be really gentle spicing,

because I don't want it to overpower,

I just want it to be really subtle.

Plus, when I was a kid,

like, the worst part of eating kheer in the gurdwara

was getting a cardamom pod in your mouth.

[pan sizzling]

So I like to just keep them to a minimum,

even though I love them.

[bright music]

I've used pudding rice,

which is traditional for a rice pudding.

A lot of times at home,

my mom would use like basmati rice,

or a rice that she had available.

And pudding rice is just way nicer,

'cause it cooks low and slow.

Then a vanilla pod.

I'm gonna save some of the seeds

for the crème anglaise that we're gonna make.

So I'll keep some on this plate,

and the pod in here.

I think I wanted to be a pastry chef,

because I love feeding people,

and I didn't grow up knowing how to bake,

or with any good cakes around

that weren't bought from the shop,

so I was always interested in how it worked.

Then when I went into kitchens,

I realized very quickly

that if you work in pastry,

it's like a bit of a nicer part of the kitchen.

I can do savory and I love it,

but you're not gonna catch me standing there,

you know, de-boning fish,

or, you know,

cutting off the heads of birds.

It actually puts me off, so..

[Ravneet laughing]

I like to stay in the sweet side.

You wanna warm it,

until you start seeing the rice float in the liquids,

and then we're gonna put a lid on,

and put it in the oven,

bake it low and slow,

and then make our crème anglaise.

[bright music]

This is our like, rich,

like, custard that's gonna go into the rice pudding,

and make it even more rich,

and I'm gonna use some of the best dairy,

and the best eggs I can get my hands on,

fold a bit of mango puree through that,

and then it's just gonna be delicious.

I'm gonna warm through my dairy,

which is milk,

and I've got some cream,

I'm gonna put in half my sugar.

It's so important

to always put half your sugar in your dairy,

because it coats the milk proteins.

Then the vanilla that I kept back,

I'm gonna put a bit in here.

And you just want that to like simmer nicely.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna put my egg yolks in a bowl.

Like, I don't like baking without good eggs,

or cooking in general,

and these are rich yolk eggs,

and they make a really big difference.

Get a whisk,

then, you're gonna mix your egg yolks,

gorgeous egg yolks with the rest of your sugar.

[upbeat music]

I always have to like go up on my toes,

'cause I'm too short.

I'm gonna add a bit of mango puree now,

and just put a touch into my milk.

So I've turned it right down,

and you can see that it's starting to bubble up.

So now that that's steaming,

I'm gonna pour it over my yolks and whisk them.

Okay, now that's gonna go back into my pan.

Now we're gonna cook that,

over like a medium heat.

A crème anglaise is like a traditional thin custard,

because it has no thickening agent in it necessarily,

so no corn flour,

but it does get thick,

and it gets like a body from the egg yolks,

and also from the proteins of milk.

That's your crème anglaise done.

And then we just need to stir the rice pudding,

and the two will go together.

[upbeat music]

I much prefer cooking for other people.

I think the reason why I'm a chef,

is because I love pleasing people with food.

It is probably like a people-pleasing thing

that I've got inside me.

But I love that joy of just taking someone something,

and like brightening up their day.

And it really hurts me if someone doesn't like food.

[Ravneet laughing]

I'm like,

I can't connect with you, sorry.

[Ravneet laughing]

So I'm gonna get some stuff ready for the mango garnish now.

I've got some really nice mango puree that I've kept back,

some passion fruit seeds,

and then we're gonna move on to the mangoes.

My mom is like a mango haggler,

so usually if I need to buy a lot,

I tell her to go for me.

And these ones are really lovely Kesar mangoes.

I've also got a Peruvian one,

because I thought they look lovely,

and it's nice to have different textures.

You don't always want slimy, slimy.

So we're gonna have a bit of firm,

bit of slimy,

in a good way,

and it's gonna be delicious.

When I'm coming up with recipes,

I always actually try and keep it super seasonal.

I try and strip everything back

to making the ingredients sing as much as possible.

This one, I'm gonna cut it into cubes,

so we have texture.

Okay, great.

That's our mango done,

and I think it's good to go.

[upbeat music]


It's great,

it's got a tiny bit of bite,

which is good,

because the rice pudding

will carry on cooking anyway,

especially with the anglaise inside.

Remove our vanilla pod,

'cause it has served its purpose.

And then, I actually remove the pesky cardamom pods,

because nobody wants those in their teeth.

Add the anglaise,

stir that through,

so it's like lets

it lets it down in the anglaise,

it relaxes a bit more,

and then serve it up with the mango through it,

and some pistachio on top,

a bit of passion fruit seeds,

and then we're done.

[upbeat music]


My mom and grandma will be very happy.

I love the mango.

You guys get to eat it now,

it's delicious.

[upbeat music]

Starring: Ravneet Gill