A decade ago, you and I had no idea what a Michelin starred restaurant was, and honestly I did not even care. We were happy with our good old Dal Makhani and Chicken Tikka Masala serving restaurants in the neighbourhood, and what Mrs. Sharma or Mrs. Verma said would decide the next weekends dinner plan. As a child I understood that eating at a restaurant in a luxury 5 star Hotel was, and has been a big deal, people would also get excited to eat in dimpled Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s restaurants in smaller towns across India. In Mumbai, Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra was among the first few Indian restaurants that were identified by the name of the Chef, until two years ago.
I think the first time my mother ever heard the word Michelin star must’ve been during the introduction of Chef Vikas Khanna in Masterchef India. He became a household name in India and after that other Chefs who have earned this honour slowly started becoming popular. Now Indian Chefs like Vikas Khanna or Vineet Bhatia have entered our living rooms & TV sets. We are now getting to know more about them and the concept of a Michelin Star restaurant.
So, What is a Michelin Star?
Michelin is in fact a tire company! The Michelin star was introduced over a hundred years ago as a guide to encourage road trips in France. At the time, one Michelin star meant that it was safe to eat in that place without having to take digestion pills, two Michelin stars meant it was a good place to eat at, if you were passing by and three Michelin stars meant that the place was so good, “it’s worth adding an 20 extra miles to your trip and take a diversion for it”.
Now, the Michelin Star inspectors and the criteria restaurants must fill is a big hush! Hush! Thing. Michelin Inspectors are the he-who-must-not-be-named people of the restaurant industry around the world, they have a set of rules and framework that they work within. There are few selected cities around the world that come under the Michelin radar, while Shanghai and HongKong are in the Michelin radar, restaurants in India are yet to make their place.
Indian Restaurants Around The World That Have Earned a Michelin Star.
Restaurants in India might not have made a mark in the Michelin world yet but Indian restaurants studded across the globe certainly have. Here are 10 restaurants from around the world that have earned a Michelin star for their Indian Food.
In 2001, under Chef Aul Kochhar Tamarind earned its first Michelin star. Tamarind has maintained its Michelin star, now under Chef Alfred Prasad who features traditional Moghul Cuisine and tandoor cooking along with contemporary creations.
Some specialities the Tamarind selection carries.
A fine Indian fine-dining restaurant since 2003, Benaras earned its Michelin star after four years in 2007. Chef Atul Kochhar’s Benaras restaurant features traditional preparations from his motherland with a modern twist. I’ve been to Benaras a few years ago for an interview I had conducted with Chef Atul Kochhar. I still have pictures and glimpses of that menu which featured venison and quail delicacies, otherwise unheard of on an Indian restaurant menu.
Here are few dishes they feature.
When it comes to Indian food, Chef Vineet Bhatia is Midas. Everything he touches turns to Michelin! Rasoi in Chelsea has held a Michelin star since 2009. The items that feature are Global Indian, such as a Stilton lamb tikki and goat cheese samosa.
Here are some Rasoi delicacies.
After nine years of hard work, Chef Sriram Aylur earned the first Michelin star for Quilon in 2008 which features western coastal food from Kerala and Goa.
Check out some great dishes
Is an Indian grill with Tapas-Style food by Chef Karunesh Khanna, it has held a Michelin star since 2006.
Have a look at what they serve!
This sister of the Mumbai seafood restaurant Trishna, that has patrons from around the world, earned its Michelin star under Chef Karam Sethi who was earlier working in Rasoi. The famous King crab among other delicacies are worth a mention.
Earned a Michelin star in 2001, when Vineet Bhatia was Head Chef here for producing dishes that changed the perception of Indian food globally.
Chef Vikas Khanna’s restaurant Junoon earned a Michelin star for the third time in a row. While this Masterchef India’s adorable and humble judge (P.S. for him I would work on that show again for free!) needs no further introduction, he has won accolades for his books and research on Indian cuisine. He also earned the oppurtunity to prepare an Indian feast for US President Barack Obama.
Have a Look at what earns a Restaurant a Michelin Star
An Indian menu created by Chef Hemant Mathur features street food as well as Tandoori cooking. See what they serve.
You might have realised by now that every restayrat that is touched by Vineet Bhatia gets a Michelin star. Well, here is another feather in his hat. Rasoi in Geneva also earned its Michelin star soon after it opened it’s golden gate. Well, what should I say, some Chefs just know how to cook to impress!
How to Cook like a Michelin Starred Indian Restaurant? Changing the Perception
Know Where to Stop; Masala is not Master
There are Curry Houses across London and around the rest of the world that serve run-of-the-mill Indian food. Chef Atul Kochhar said in an interview I conducted few years ago, that people don’t understand the use of spices and flavours in Indian food. In a Chicken Tikka Masala they add tomato chutney and coconut milk, they don’t know where to stop. The flavour of the ingredient itself should not be masked by the loud masala which is heavily loaded with spices. The flavours should be clean and balanced.
Importance of Presentation
The pictures you have seen must have made it evident that the food presentation should adhere to global standards of food presentation. Colours should be clean, the layout neat and the assembly creative.
Out of the Box Dishes & Ideas
Creativity and imagination in adding that X-factor to the food is of utmost importance. Modern techniques are often used to re-create Indian classics. The different elements of flavours and texture come together on the plate and distinct flavour of the elements are well pronounced.
Food from Michelin Star Indian restaurants is inspiring. In an Exclusive ‘Q n A’ with Mr. Zorawar Kalra, Managing Director and Founder of Massive Restaurants, he talks about Indian Cuisine Version 2.0 and how he would like to earn a Michelin Star for his new brand Masala Library. Read on to know his aims and strategy as he journeys forward towards a Michelin Star. Will the food of Masala Library match up to Michelin Starred Indian restaurants around the world.
1) Why did you decide to go with an unconventional way of presenting Indian food?
- Indian food has been represented the same way for decades now. When you visit any Indian restaurant across the country or even most of the renowned addresses internationally, you expect to see the food served exactly the same way like it has been for years now.
Our intent with Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra is to take Indian cuisine to the next level, which we have termed as Indian Cuisine – Version 2.0 and showcase it in a more international manner, while retaining the traditional flavours and method of preparation, yet adding a sense of surprise for the diner into the fray.
2) How do you plan on taking this concept further.
- After launching Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra in Mumbai last week, we plan to have one in Delhi as well.
Our aim is to get a Michelin star and hence would be looking at some international locations in the coming year.
3) Do you think it will be well received by Indians who have developed a comfort zone with the way their food is presented?
- Like I said earlier, Indian food has been represented the same way for decades and it is time for us to take it to the next level. It is our cuisine, which has a rich heritage, and we are extremely proud of it. It is up to us to present it in the right manner to the rest of the world including our own patrons; no outsider is going to come to do that.
It’s just been a few days since the launch and we have received extraordinary feedback from all, the guests, media, food enthusiasts and connoisseurs, and we are absolutely confident that this is going to continue for a long time.
4) What is the one dish your Chef is most confident about in your menu?
- We have spent over 8 months in working on the nuances of every single dish listed on the menu at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra. It will be very difficult to pick out one dish from the menu. We are extremely confident that all the dishes on offer are going to bring in a unique culinary experience for our guests.
5) Could you please mail me a copy of your menu card and the list of dishes that were featured yesterday?
- The list of the dishes served at the Indian Food Bloggers Awards 2013 preview party last week is listed below. (Find at the Bottom of this Article).
6) Also, I wanted to check with you if some of these dishes like the duck or lamb are also available in larger portions, and if they are then are they are always served like a canapé?
- The dishes served at the Indian Food Bloggers Awards 2013 preview party were all specifically done as bite size portions for the evening. In actuality, all the dishes are served in larger portions, including the Duck and Lamb, however in case of the Lamb, we serve Lamb shanks instead of Lamb boti which was served during the course of the evening. We also have Lamb boti served with the Galawat Kebab
Although there are other grading systems for restaurants around the world, such as Hatted restaurants in Australia, since Indian food has earned a name in the Michelin world, diners tend to identify more with the pride that comes from earning a Michelin. It is believed that Michelin inspectors are only a handful and Indian cities have still not come in the radar. There has been a little progress with the Mumbai based seafood restaurant Trishna earning a Michelin star for its London based counterpart but there is still a long way to go for Indian Restaurants. I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed, hoping that one of our favourite restaurants manages to catch the attention of the star watchers real soon!
Masala Library Canapé menu
Indian Food Bloggers Awards 2013 Preview Party
pesto kabab, tandoori tomato, parmesan papad
yogurt spheres, papdi chaat
chole kulcha, chukki mirch, carrot pickle
sarson ka saag quesadilla, butter milk cream
kadhai paneer tarts, san marzano makhni
corn and fenugreek kulcha, sunflower seeds
guchchi naan, truffle oil
duck khurchan, chilli hoisin tarts
chettinad prawns, roasted coconut flakes
chicken tikka, hickory wood smoke, habanero raita
boti kabab tacos, blue cheese cream
soft shell crab 65, cherry tomato chutney
prawn balchao kulcha, ‘xo’ butter
jalebi caviar, saffron glaze, pistachio rabri
ghewar mithai cheesecake
masala library lollipops – mishti doi
paan pasand candy floss
Interesting Reads on Michelin Star Restaurants
What Does it Take to Earn a Michelin Star? – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/what-does-it-take-to-earn_b_2204599.html
How To Get a Michelin Star – http://www.hindustantimes.com/Entertainment/Food/How-to-get-a-Michelin-star/Article1-494741.aspx
Missing Michelin in India – http://www.financialexpress.com/news/missing-michelin-in-india/746577
Indian Michelin Star Chefs – http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/articles/restaurant-guides/indian-michelin-star-chefs