London’s Indian Fine Dining Scene Welcomes An Emperor

By Phil Clarke, Editor of The Handbook website Phil Clarke |
8th February 2019

Atul Kochhar is back! The first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star is opening a new restaurant, Kanishka, on Mayfair’s Maddox Street and it’s the most anticipated Indian restaurant opening in a recent string of high profile Indian openings.

Kochhar won his Michelin star at Tamarind of Mayfair back in 2001 before moving to open Benares the following year, again bagging himself a Michelin star. Under his watch he established Benares at the very top of the London’s culinary scene, where it firmly remains, before finally leaving, apparently under something of a cloud, earlier in 2018. Perhaps unrelated, Kanishka is named after the 2nd century emperor Kanishka, renowned for his Buddhist values of kindness, fairness, honesty, humbleness his sense of equality.

As he sets out in his first venture since leaving Benares, all eyes are going to be on Kanishka. Launched alongside Tina English, the restaurant will showcase lesser-known regions of Indian food, with dishes from remote borders and far-flung territories, notably the so-called seven Sister States in eastern India. Also expect flavours, ingredients, cooking methods and influences on India’s neighbours including Nepal, China, and Bangladesh, vaguely following the boundaries of emperor Kanishka’s empire.

We’ve already been promised signature dishes including Kachela Maas, a Sikkim inspired venison tartare with mustard oil mayonnaise, naan crouton and onions, and the delicious sounding Samundri Khazana Alleppey, pan seared seafood, Alleppey sauce and smoked cabbage poriyal and not to be outdone, a pudding of chocolate rasmalai, a milk-based dessert popular in eastern India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

On the cocktails, look forward to mixologists creating Roast Banana Old Fashioned, made using bananas from the restaurant’s tandoor, or the savoury Ingrita, which deploys Mezcal with a chilled, spiced tomato broth. The whisky collection sounds like it’ll be worthy of our whisky guide.

And it’ll be more than just great food and drink, Kanishka has been designed to evoke a nostalgic sense of ritual and tradition with whimsical topiary elephants either side of the antique front door and an interior dominated by verdant foliage, shades of blue and intricate beaded details across both floors and a roadside terrace.

Slated for opening in March, watch out for Kanishka and Atul Kochhar’s triumphant return to the London restaurant scene.

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