Mohammed Shaukat began cooking in his native Pakistan.

From Rawalpindi, a city in the Punjab province, near the capital Islamabad, he loved putting together different ingredients to create new tastes.

Twenty years ago his culinary skills brought him to Bradford and a job at Nawaab, the Asian restaurant in Manor Row. “I was really pleased to come here to get more experience,” he says.

“I love cooking, it is fun – you can create new dishes and there is always something new to learn.”

Now the talented chef is putting his expertise to use in the latest venture by the Nawaab Group – which has restaurants across northern England, as well as in Spain and Majorca.

The group invested £200,000 in converting the former Lapwater Hall at Tong into a restaurant, banqueting suite and conference centre. Mohammed is head chef at the venue, which opened last November, creating a vast range of dishes ranging from customer favourite the nirali special – chicken breast marinated in yoghurt and masala sauce – to king prawn tikka masala and the okra and spice dish, bhindi rogan josh.

“It is wonderful to be involved in a new business and help to build it up,” he says. “I have worked for the company for many years and enjoy it very much. The new restaurant is in such a beautiful place, and has an open kitchen so people can watch us cooking.”

The amiable chef, who heads an eight-strong kitchen at the restaurant, loves chatting to customers. “They can talk to us while we are cooking – it is such a friendly environment. People have started to ask for a table in front of the kitchen so they can watch us. They come out to have dinner, and for entertainment too.”

Many of Nawaab’s customers are regulars who, having enjoyed the fare at Manor Row, are doing the same in new surroundings at the other side of the city. “Some people eat the same meal every time they come, whereas others like to try new dishes,” says Mohammed. “And we get a lot of families coming out to eat on Sundays.”

Mohammed, 42, lives in Bradford with his wife, Tahira, and their four children, whose ages range from seven to 19. The family eat mainly traditional Asian dishes, with Mohammed and Tahira sharing the cooking. “Tahira is a really good cook,” he says.

His favourite dish is balti fish made with haddock. “It is a very popular dish in the restaurant. I also like the nirali special, and meat thali, which is made up of three dishes cooked separately, including balti chicken, balti lamb and chicken masala.”

Mohammed returns to Pakistan occasionally to visit family. “My mum lives there – she is very proud of what I’ve achieved in England,” he says.

He uses the trips to visit restaurants, eat and chat to chefs, picking up tips on new dishes. “In this profession there is so much to learn. I’m head chef and know a great deal, but there is so much more – new ideas, new recipes, new dishes, it never ends, that’s why I love it so much.”