Indian diaspora chefs elevating Indian cuisines

From Indian kitchen to global fine dining

Diaspora

September 26, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Indian diaspora chefs elevating Indian cuisines

Chef Vikas Khanna distributed around 25 million meals across India and provided rations to 10 million food vendors

Indian cuisine is synonymous with spices and hot curries. However, a few chefs of Indian origin are changing the way Indian cuisine is perceived and have popularised Indian food around the world by innovating with the dishes.

Over the past few years, chefs belonging to the Indian diaspora have won top honours for their culinary delights and also own well-known restaurant and food chains in several countries. Whether it is through their cookbooks or their restaurants, these chefs have expanded the fan following of Indian cuisine overseas, while introducing a variation of the Indian gastronomy that’s normally available in India.

Several of them have been recognised for their work through the Michelin star that they have won for their expertise. Some of them have indeed become members of a select group of globally-recognised chefs. The Michelin Star, a global standard for good cuisine, was started in 1900 by French tyre-maker Michelin. Over the years, it has become the hallmark of fine dining restaurants around the world.

Here’s a look at the few world-famous chefs from the Indian diaspora, most of whom figure in the little red book of global cuisine.

Vikas Khanna, Unites States

Born and raised in Amritsar, Punjab and now based in New York city in the US, Chef Vikas Khanna is a big name in the global culinary world. Chef Vikas started his restaurant Junoon in the Flatiron district of Manhattan in late 2010. The following year, Junoon received its first Michelin star. Since then, Chef Vikas has repeated the feat for six consecutive years. His repertoire includes appearances on MasterChef India, MasterChef Australia, collaborations with British chef Gordon Ramsay and cooking for former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle twice during their years in the White House.

The 48-year-old world-renowned chef and author had also coordinated a massive food distribution drive from his home in Manhattan since the Covid-19 pandemic gripped India, unleashing economic hardships for millions as a nationwide lockdown was implemented in March. He distributed around 25 million meals across India and provided rations to 10 million food vendors.

Apart from authoring several cookbooks including ‘Essence of Seasoning’, ‘Khanna Sutra’ and ‘Young Chef’, Chef Khanna also produced a documentary series called ‘Holy Kitchens’ which was showcased at Oxford, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia Universities and film festivals. He also produced and premiered a documentary called ‘Kitchens of Gratitude’ at the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

Vikram Vij, Canada

Viktram Vij is an Indian origin Canadian chef, cookbook author and television personality

Born in 1964, Vij is an Indian origin Canadian chef, cookbook author and television personality. He is co-owner, along with his ex-wife Meeru Dhalwala, of the Indian Cuisine restaurants, Vij’s Restaurant and Rangoli Restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2014, Vij was named the new ‘dragon’ investor on the Canadian reality show Dragons’ Den for its ninth season and stayed on the show till the end of the season.

Born in New Delhi, Vij grew up between Delhi and Bombay. In 1983, he left India to study hotel management in Salzburg, Austria. Vij describes his culinary philosophy as keeping spices and cooking techniques Indian, while using locally-available meats, seafood and produce. Vij has asserted that his cuisine should not be labelled as fusion since he used traditional Indian methods and spices.

Vij’s Restaurant was one of the 20 featured restaurants at the James Beard Annual Gala Awards 1998 and was invited to prepare dinner at the James Beard House. In 2001, Vij was invited to be a member of the prestigious gastronomic society Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, in France.

 

Chef Alfred Prasad, England

Prasad became the youngest Indian chef to be honoured with a Michelin star

After completing his culinary degree in India and spending several years working with the Sheraton Group in New Delhi and Chennai, chef Alfred Prasad joined Tamarind of Mayfair in London as a sous chef in 2001. He was promoted to executive chef within a year. At the age of 29, Prasad became the youngest Indian chef to be honoured with a Michelin star.

Prasad went on to hold creative control of other famous Indian restaurants in London including Imli Street and Zaika of Kensington. He describes his style of cooking as ‘delicately balancing creativity and authenticity’. Although Prasad has not authored any cookbooks, you can find his recipes on the Great British Chefs website.

Chef Manjunath Mural, Singapore

Chef Manjunath Muralhas been awarded a Michelin star four consecutive times

A culinary artist in a family of medical professionals, chef Manjunath Mural represented his alma mater IHMCTAN, Bangalore, in a national level cooking competition. He has served as a chef in a five-star hotel in Mumbai and has also worked with Indian celebrity chefs Sanjeev Kapoor and Milind Sovani. Manjunath moved to Singapore in February 2006, where he launched The Song of India as a sous-chef under Sovani. Mural holds the distinction of being the first Indian executive chef in Singapore to win a Michelin star with The Song of India.

Since 2016, he has been awarded a Michelin star four consecutive times.  His restaurant offers exquisite vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus, degustation menus and a special menu called Journey through India.

Garima Arora, France

Garima holds the distinction of being the first female Indian chef to receive a Michelin star

An alumnus of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, chef Garima Arora is a woman of many talents, having worked with the likes of chef Gordon Ramsay and Danish chef René Redzepi. She opened her restaurant ‘Gaa‘ in Bangkok, Thailand in April 2017 and received a Michelin star in November 2018.

Gaa boasts of a modern tasting menu featuring traditional Indian cooking methods. Garima holds the distinction of being the first female Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, while World’s 50 Best Restaurants also named her Asia’s Best Female Chef in February 2019.

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