Harpal Singh Sokhi is a celebrity chef from India. As a chef, he worked with multiple hotel and restaurant chains, before launching his own chain – The Funjabi Tadka – in 2013. He has hosted the cooking show Turban Tadka,
Harpal Singh Sokhi grew up in Kharagpur (West Bengal), where his father worked with the Indian Railways. He has two older sisters and one brother. He studied at the South Eastern Railway Mixed Higher Secondary School. He was inspired to become a chef by his mother’s cooking. His father traveled a lot for work, and encouraged his kids to try a lot of different cuisines. His brother also cooked food at a langar.
Inspired by the academic atmosphere in Kharagpur (which is home to an IIT), Sokhi initially wanted to pursue engineering, but was not good at studies. He also expressed interest in joining the Indian Air Force, but by the time he decided to apply, he had crossed the maximum age limit. He came to know about the hotel management career from a friend who studied in Siliguri. Sokhi’s brother encouraged him to appear for the hotel management entrance exam, and Sokhi enrolled at the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Bhubaneswar in 1984.
In 1987, Sokhi completed his diploma in catering from IHM Bhubaneswar. He started his career as a trainee cook at The Oberoi in Bhubaneswar. At 27, he became an executive chef.
Sokhi spent several years in learning different international cuisines. He learnt Hyderabadi cooking from Ustad Habib Pasha and Begum Mumtaz Khan. He also did research on Ayurveda-based food to see how cooking can improve nutritive value of the food.
He went on to work as a chef with several restaurants, including:
• Vintage, a Hyderabadi speciality restaurant
• Centaur Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai
• Hotel Tuli International, Nagpur (1994–98)
• The Regent, Mumbai (1998–2001)
• The Regent, Jakarta
• Taj Lands End, Bandra, Mumbai
• Blue Cilantro in Andheri, Mumbai
Sokhi has conducted cooking schools at Regent Jakarta and The Peninsula Manila. He has also organized Indian food festivals internationally.
In 2001, Sokhi and others founded Khana Khazana India Pvt Ltd. He led food trials, developed ready-to-eat products for the Khazana brand, and conceptualized a range of chocolate mithais (South Asian sweets). He has also been involved with the Ching’s Secret brand.
Sokhi executed the business class menus on Singapore Airlines for seven years, and also conducted the “Ancient Indian Food” promotion on Indian Airlines. He has also developmed menus for SOTC travels. Besides, he has developed menus for Wockhardt Hospitals.
Sokhi has taught as a guest faculty member at the N. L. Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research. He has also designed menus for many events, including weddings and birthday parties.
In 1993, Sokhi hosted the first episode of Khana Khazana on Zee TV. He launched his first solo show Harpal ki Rasoi on Nagpur’s local Siti Cable TV, but the show was not as successful as Sokhi expected it to be. Later, Sokhi started hosting Turban Tadka on Food Food channel, which gained him popular recognition in India. It became one of the top cookery shows by TRPs. Sokhi came to be known for his phrase namak shamak.
He has also hosted the TV shows Kitchen Khiladi and Sirf Tees Minute on FoodFood channel. In 2014, he hosted Zee News’ road food show Desh da Swaad, traveling across India. He is also one of India’s top chefs on YouTube. Currently he is a contestant on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 9.
In 1998, Sokhi conceptualized and executed the opening of the Indian specialty restaurant Khazana in Dubai.He also formulated business plans and opening plans for other restaurants. In 2012, he decided to launch his own restaurant chain The Funjabi Tadka (TFT). The flagship branch of the restaurant opened on 18 January 2013 in Kolkata.
Sokhi has written food columns for newspapers and magazines.He is one of the oldest associates of Sanjeev Kapoor, and has developed content for his books.The two have authored a book Royal Hyderabadi Cooking.
Sokhi lives in Mumbai with his wife Aparna. The couple has two daughters: Anushka and Antra. He is fluent in six languages: