Ambassador of Indian cuisine
Vineet Bhatia’s career begins in the mid-1980s in Mumbai and Dehli. In 1993, he moved to London. At that time, there were countless Indian restaurants there, but no authentic Indian food. In 2001, Vineet Bhatia earned his first star at his flagship restaurant Rasoi. He was the first Indian ever to be awarded a Michelin star for his cooking style. Many awards followed: Best Newcomer, The Best Indian Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Top 10 in London. Today he is one of the TOP Most influential people in London. He is considered the Father of Modern Progressive Indian Food, works magic with spices, combines Indian and European cooking elements with harmony and presents his dishes light and fresh.
Vineet Bhatia has already arrived at the festival for the Welcome Party. Quite charmingly, the “Chef” from London offers his fine finger food personally for immediate consumption while he is still present. Chicken Chaat Basket, also translates as chicken kebab in a basket. And it is a true taste explosion that unfolds in the mouth. The crispy batter of the basket is infused with a finely marinated chicken with the key spices of India – cumin, turmeric and ginger.
In the 1980s, when Vineet Bhatia was looking for a career and his original career aspiration of becoming a “pilot” failed because of his height, he decided to go into gastronomy and he became a chef. At that time, he tells me during an interview, all chefs in India wanted to cook in the continental style. Which meant nothing more than an adaptation of nouvelle cuisine, French cuisine.
Vineet Bhatia meets a German in Mumbai who takes the opposite approach, ignoring European cuisine with a French twist and instead delving into Indian cuisine. This was the trigger for Bhatia to deal with Indian national cuisine on a different level. In his own country, he quickly realized, he was not getting anywhere with his project of upscale Indian cuisine. The Indian style of cooking was not appreciated enough in his own country. In 1993, he went to London and began playing with Indian flavors.
“Cook with all your senses!”
Actually, the Italians are known for their gesture-rich explanations. Vineet Bhatia is in no way inferior and explains: “To cook, you have to use all your senses. Even your sense of hearing. If you put spices in the pan to roast them, you can hear how they break open. His appeal is “Cook clearly and without frills” By this he means concretely, never use more than 6 – 7 spices . This can be well understood in his recipe for lentil soup. It does indeed taste of red lentils, without being boring, because a balanced proportion of spices, above all cumin, ginger and turmeric provide a coherent spice chord.
Vineet Bhatia: “Food is becoming lighter and more beautiful”.
As a top chef, one’s cooking style is in a constant state of evolution. Looking back at his beginnings, Vineet Bhatia notes that food has become much lighter. Spices, yes, but the fat and overly dominant spices have been removed. Now, 12 restaurants around the world bear his name. And the same philosophy applies in all of them: fresh ingredients of high quality, no over-seasoning of the dishes, but maintaining a clear and distinct taste. And his special strength: Never panic! His wife only calls him Buddha in the kitchen. Because he remains so calm, even in hectic situations.
The basis of good cuisine, Vineet Bhatia is convinced, is the same all over the world – you need good products and you should use as many local ingredients as possible. At the Rheingau Gourmet & Wine Festival, the star chef from London will present four courses with Indian flair for lunch. Sommelier Kai Schattner will present the wine accompaniment and introduce the vintners present. To the sun-dried tomato-cheese chicken tikka and the cumin soup, the 2014 Haardter Bürgergarten, Riesling VDP, Erste Lage trocken from the Müller-Catoir winery will be served as accompanying wines. Furthermore, a 2014 Chardonnay from the Chat Sauvage winery.
The second course is a grilled lobster with curry and coconut-lime-chili sauce. Here, too, the guest may enjoy Bhatia’s finely balanced play of flavors. As a wine accompaniment, sommelier Kai Schattner provides a 2015 Traminer Rheingau Fruity Style from garage winery Anthony Hammond and 2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling Slätlese mild also Anthony Hammond.
Lamb chop with ginger and mushrooms, Indian khichdi, a mixture of rice and mung beans. Khichdi is also called the comfort food in India because it is very digestible and can also do good to an upset stomach. It is accompanied by Rogan Josh sauce, a combination of spices, onions and pepper that is served with lamb dishes in India. The wine pairing for course number three is a 2013 Pinot Noir Assmannshäuser Höllenberg from the Chat Sauvage winery.
With two kinds of Beerenauslese comes Vineet Bhatia’s dessert. The Pista Kulfi, a caramelized banana cheesecake made with sweetened milk, is accompanied by a 2014 Haardter Herzog Rieslaner Beerenauslese, VDP erste Lage edelsüß from the Müller-Catoir winery. Secondly, a Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, a Riesling Beerenauslese from the garage-winery winery, Anthony Hammond.