Top Indian chefs in London, many of whom are Michelin starred, claim that London has better Indian restaurants than India itself. One such comment was made recently by Atul Kochhar, the chef director of Michelin-starred Benares restaurant in London, who said, “London definitely leads when it comes to Indian food. We have certainly paved the way.”
Kochhar, the first Indian chef anywhere in the world to receive a Michelin star, claims that the Indian restaurants in the UK have an edge over the ones in India because of the organised markets and the chefs following the seasonality of ingredients. “It’s no fault of India or any advantage to London, but the way markets are organised, the way ingredients are kept, we follow the seasonality very closely that helps. In India, it breaks my heart to say that, unfortunately the market is not organised. You cannot get one particular kind of meat through the season. One day you will buy cherry tomatoes, the next day you will get beef tomatoes in the market and that varies the product hugely. The systems are hugely lacking,” said Oberoi-trained Kochhar in a report by The Asian Age. Kochhar got his first Michelin star as the chef at Tamarind in 2001. He opened Benares in 2003 and the Mayfair restaurant won its first Michelin star in 2007. The Indian restaurants, he admits, have an advantage on the count of spices, but he said that the UK spice market is very evolved with an over 400-year-old history. “With the technology, knowledge, seasonality and the organised food sector in the UK, we have managed to push ahead," said Kochhar, who trains chefs from India at his restaurants.