Story and photo: Vivienne Pearson
Hey Brother, He Ain’t Heavy… He’s My Brother, Brother to Brother… Whatever your era, there’s a song about brothers supporting each other. Have you heard the one about brothers in the kitchen? Probably not, because I made it up, but it would be a good tune for Billi’s Indian, as owner Rohit has welcomed younger brother Mohit into the kitchen as his new chef.
After owning the restaurant for nearly five years, Rohit Sharma knew that he needed to step out from the kitchen. ‘As it is getting busier, it’s too much for one person,’ he says. Ideally, his brother was available. Mohit studied cooking in India, through college and then an internship, and is looking forward to adding to the already popular existing menu. ‘In the coming weeks, we will add new dishes, including Malai Tikka (a cashew-cream-based cheese dish), Kadai Paneer (flavoured with ginger, garlic, coriander seeds and chili) and a Vegetable Naan,’ he says.
How does Rohit feel about his younger-by-three-years brother being an even better cook than he? ‘I love it – that’s what I want to hear,’ says Rohit. Before you award him a medal for being big brother of the year, he goes on to laugh: ‘Anyway, when people meet us together, they always pick me as being younger!’
The two grew up in a village in far northern India, in the highly picturesque region of Himachal Pradesh. ‘It is right near the Himalayas,’ says Rohit. He sees many differences between Indian and Australian culture but is clear about one similarity: ‘In both, country people are friendlier than those who live in cities,’ he says.
Rohit’s friendliness will be more on display to customers now he has been freed up to be front of house. His warmth towards his staff means that he is super keen for me to fully acknowledge his other new, assistant chef, Gagandeep, as well as front-of-house staff member, Anna, and Brunswick Heads local Charlotte Wood, who recently designed the interior of the restaurant as well as a new bicycle-powered logo.
I’m sure the brother sibling rivalry of Kanye West’s song Big Brother will never be needed as a soundtrack at Billi’s.
Information: Billi’s Indian, 8 Wilfred St, Billinudgel. Tues–Sun from 5pm, dine in or takeaway. 6680 3352 / billisindian.com.au.