Surbhi Sahni’s expertise and innovative spirit brings a unique perspective to modern Indian cuisine. Her creations are inspired by her childhood meals, her knowledge of Eastern and Western styles, and her experience in various New York restaurants for the past 15 years. She enjoys inventing desserts by using traditional Indian ingredients, such as curry leaf, cilantro, ginger and cardamom, and a blend of Indian, European and American pastry techniques.
At Tulsi, Sahni continues to “play” with flavors and textures to create sweet and savory results that are both delicious and pleasing to the senses. Thus, guests are offered choices such as: Banana Pitha (fritters) with salty pecans, butter pecan ice cream; Pistachio Cake with passion fruit buttercream and kulfi ice cream; and Ginger Panna Cotta with spiced poached pears and Campari orange gelée.
Sahni became widely known for her ethereal Mango Cheesecake, Shahi Tukra and other desserts when she was the executive pastry chef at New York City’s Dévi restaurant, which she helped to open in 2004. While there, the restaurant received a Michelin one-star rating for 2008 and 2007 – the only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in the country at the time.
Prior to Dévi, Sahni worked in the pastry kitchen at davidburke&donatella and was the executive pastry chef at Amma, both in New York City. Sahni made her mark on New York’s culinary map when she served as executive pastry chef at the highly acclaimed Tamarind in 2001. Working with the late chef Raji Jallepalli, she developed the concept and menu for the restaurant’s Tea Room. More recently, she consulted on the Bombay street food menu for Aamchi Pao in Manhattan’s West Village.
In 2010, she started her own catering company, Bittersweet NYC, specializing in custom-designed wedding cakes and Indian-inspired confections. She has created dramatic (and delectable) centerpieces for large- and small-scale weddings in the New York City area and beyond, as well as developed her own product line of Indian “truffles.” These chocolate-based truffles are a departure from traditional ganache-filled truffles as she uses khoya, dried milk used in traditional Indian sweets, along with Indian spices and high-quality ingredients.
Sahni’s wonderfully rich Fig Cake was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, and her Ginger Panna Cotta was lauded as one of the “Best Restaurant Desserts for 2011” by Esquire. She has appeared in other media, including: The New York Times, New York Daily News, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Food Arts, Pastry Art & Design, Audrey Magazine, India Abroad, ImaginAsiaTV “Pulse” and New Asian Cuisine. She also served as a contributing food writer for India Post.
In addition, she has been a demonstration chef and taught at various culinary education venues including New York University, De Gustibus at Macy’s Herald Square, Worlds of Flavor Conference at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone, the CIA’s Baking and Pastry Arts Retreat, Williams-Sonoma Time Warner Center and the Fancy Food Show in NYC. She was also part of the culinary team for a featured dinner at The James Beard House.
Sahni holds a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management from the School of Hotel Administration in India and a master’s degree in Food Studies and Food Management from New York University.
She is proud to be working at Tulsi with her husband, Executive Chef/Co-owner Hemant Mathur. They live in Jackson Heights, Queens, with their daughter, Soumyaa.