Review: An Indian culinary adventure at Kanishka by Atul Kochhar

Take a tour of India through Kanishka’s mouth watering six course menu for the best Indian fine dining experience in Mayfair

KanishkaAs an Indian person living in London, I have often struggled with finding good, authentic Indian food in the city. However, at Kanishka by Atul Kochhar, you not only experience authenticity that is elevated by the fine dining setting, but you also get to go on a culinary tour of India, all from your table in the heart of Mayfair.

We decided to try out the six course tasting menu and it was a cornucopia of taste, flavour and texture. Through the courses, chef Atul Kochhar took us through India’s food culture, cooking styles and signature dishes that champion the various regional cuisines of the country.

We started off with Kanishka’s signature cocktails with an Indian twist, which, in my opinion, is one of the true stars of the show. We had Atul’s Passion Fruit Martini, and the addition of tamarind chutney into the cocktail took an already incredible drink to the next level. We also tried the Tandoori Pineapple Rum Punch, which put any regular cocktail to shame. Right from the get go, we were immersed in the flavours of the country, giving us a taste of what was to come.Kanishka MayfairOur first course was some nashta (Hindi for snacks) — canapes that were an explosion of flavour as soon as you take a bite. This was followed by the second course, Dahi Puri, which is something I was very excited about as the dish is native to Mumbai, which is where I grew up. Dahi Puri is a street food delicacy that is served in a wheat crisp bubble and filled with tamarind chutney, sweet yoghurt and some sev (savoury sticks). It is very popular all over India and everywhere you go, you’ll find a different variation of it.

As soon as I popped the bubble into my mouth, I was immediately transported back to Mumbai. It genuinely felt like I was back home. The one thing I miss the most about India when I’m not there is the street food. And the fact that Atul Kochhar and his team elevated this street food classic to a luxurious fine dining delicacy is the cherry on top. 

We then moved on to our third course. I chose to try the lotus stem kebabs and crisp with tamarind, cranberry, yoghurt chutneys while my companion went with the crab fritter with grilled corn, apple salad, kimchi and chilli-tamarind chutney. The kebabs felt like a fun twist on the very popular samosa chaat and the crab fritter was one of the most delectable dishes on the menu. Both dishes complimented each other well, and the flavours were rich and bold.Crab fritterNext we tried the Chettinad spiced grilled monkfish tail with creamed kale korma and the tandoor grilled turkey marinated in cheese. The monkfish’s chettinad flavours were spiced to perfection, transporting the taster to the rich flavours of south India. And as someone who has never had turkey in tandoor/tikka form, this dish was a unique experience, one that I wouldn’t mind having again.

Our fifth course was the main course, which was easily the highlight of the whole meal. This entailed a curry of our choice accompanied by black daal, cauliflower, naan/bread and rice. We chose to try the pan fried sea bass with coconut, curry leaf, and garlic sauce enriched with caviar and a Kashmiri Roganjosh, which is a braised lamb curry with onions, tomato & Kashmiri spice blend. Monkfish TikkaWhen I saw it all laid out in front of us, with all the bold flavours, colourful sauces and punchy aroma, it felt like I was at the dinner table back home surrounded by a buffet of home cooked food. This is what an average meal looks like at an Indian household, and chef Atul and the entire team at Kanishka not only retained that essence with the flavours, but also elevated it to the luxury fine dining standard of the restaurant.

Both curries were delicious, with the sea bass and lamb being incredibly tender and rich in spices. The caviar in the sea bass curry added a unique, earthy flavour, and the Roganjosh was one of the best I’ve had in London. They complimented the rest of the dishes beautifully, and the black daal, which I am normally not a fan of, was a highlight.

This menu showcased a true culinary dialogue between each dish, complimenting each other through flavour, style and authenticity to create a beautiful harmony. The care taken to ensure each region of India had its moment was visible throughout the tasting, creating a fine dining experience of the highest calibre.Sea bassFor dessert, we had pistachio kulfi with chocolate mousse and a chai crème brulee, which was a delight. As a crème brulee connoisseur, the infusion of chai was a welcome twist on a classic, and the pistachio kufli was the perfect end to a beautiful meal.

Kanishka’s six course tasting menu is a celebration of some of the best dishes the restaurant has to offer, complete with precise presentation and remarkable flavours that take you all across the country. And whether you are a native of the country or just a fan of the cuisine and the culture, this is one Indian culinary adventure that you don’t want to miss.

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