Eat this: Kanishka

Regional Indian continues to cause waves in the capital, with the latest restaurant inspired by the east of the country and its neighbours.

11 February 2019
  • The Gist: Michelin-starred cook turns his hand to the easternmost Indian region
  • The Chef: Atul Kochhar
  • Location: 17-19 Maddox St, London W1S 2QH
  • Food in 5 words: New horizons for Indian cuisine
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How did we get here?

Atul Kochhar first hit the London spotlight after winning a Michelin star at Tamarind in 2001. He left to open Benares in 2002, which was awarded its own Michelin star four years later. He uses regional Indian flavours in his cooking, alongside the best British produce, a practice which he will develop further in his latest venture.

Teaming up with Tina English, a brand growth and development specialist who previously worked with Cinnamon Club, the chef is set to open 127-cover Kanishka in Mayfair in March.

The new place is named after King Kanishka, an emperor of the Kushan dynasty, whose Buddhist values – including kindness, fairness, honesty, humbleness and a sense of equality – inspire the interiors.

Designed by Fabled Studio, the aim is to create a nostalgic sense of ritual and tradition. Guests will be greeted by whimsical topiary elephants and an antique front door; inside, verdant foliage will contrast with shades of blue and intricate beaded details.

What’s different about it?

Kanishka will show a new side to India, particularly the Seven Sister States in the easternmost region of the country. Restaurants highlighting this cuisine have been popping up in Delhi, with food from the region typically including dumplings, air-dried meat, fermented bamboo shoots and smoked dishes.

Kochhar’s menu will explore the flavours, ingredients and cooking methods of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya, as well as influences from neighbouring countries such as Nepal, China and Bangladesh. It will also include two Tibetan-inspired dishes, one made from bread and the other featuring sausage.

Dishes will include the likes of Kachela Maas – a Sikkim-inspired venison tartare with mustard oil mayonnaise, naan crouton and onions – as well as duck, lamb chops and scallops.

“Kanishka is a very exciting project for us – it’s a great opportunity to continue to showcase Indian flavours alongside quality British produce, but also introduce London’s diners to the unique flavours of territories previously unexplored by Indian cuisine in the UK,” Kochhar said.

You’ve got to try…

Samundri Khazana Alleppey, a dish of pan-seared seafood, Alleppey sauce and smoked cabbage poriyal (the Tamil word for fried). The sauce uses green mango as a souring agent, rather than tamarind or kokum, but also includes coconut to bring a lightness to the dish.

Sparkie also likes…

Chocolate rasmalai, a milk-based dessert popular in eastern India and neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan, where dumplings made from cheese are cooked in sugar syrup first, then soaked in sweetened, thickened milk.

Go if…

You want to discover a new avenue of Indian cuisine – potentially before the Michelin inspectors arrive.

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