Atul Kochhar

Episode: Five

Atul Kochhar was the very first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, received whilst working as Head Chef at Tamarind restaurant in London in 2001. Atul was awarded his second Michelin star in 2007 at his present restaurant, Benares, where he serves modern Indian cuisine with a contemporary British twist.

Born in Jamshedpur in eastern India, Atul began his cooking career in top hotel restaurants in India before moving to London in 1994, where he opened the fine-dining Indian restaurant Tamarind in Mayfair. Atul has been at the forefront of Indian fine dining for more than a decade, having cooked for Prince Charles and consulted for Marks and Spencer on its Indian food range.

Atul has gone a long way to change British perceptions on Indian food, saying: “I have dedicated my career to my country’s cuisine and pushed the boundaries to make it different and make people look at it differently… my food is an amalgamation of British and Indian. The biggest stamp of approval for me is when Indian people dine at my restaurant and say my food can’t be called Indian. It has to be British-Indian.”

Atul Kochhar’s Wine Choice

All Rosés taste of strawberries (it’s a bit like a wine law) but not many have the honeysuckle and spice edge of this exotic Rosé. It’s nothing like the ‘White Zinfandel’ of California, but drier and with a spiced, herbal element. It’s beautifully ripe and actually the most wonderful complement to a curry.

Atul’s wine choice is unavailable in the UK, but there are some fantastic alternatives that we’ve found if you’re looking to pair this dish:

Atul’s Recipe: Lamb Chops with Aubergine Purée

Serves: Two

“As an Indian, I look at flavours. When I’m using cardamon, cinnamon, clove, even black pepper – heat is the last thing that comes to my mind, to be honest. I always suggest to people to use no more than 3 to 5 spices when you’re trying to cook one thing. And you create your meal around it.”

Ingredients:
  • 12 lamb chops, trimmed and cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil mixed with 15g melted butter, for basting
For the marinade
  • 200ml double cream
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon gram flour roux
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoons green chilli paste
  • 1 teaspoon mild red chilli powder or sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace
For the Aubergine purée
  • 1 Aubergine
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
Method
  • 1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large non-metallic bowl and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature for the flavours to blend.
  • 2. Add the lamb chops, making sure they are well coated, and leave to marinate for 1 ½ hours at room temperature.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 240˚C/Fan 220˚C/Gas 9. Place the lamb chops, coated in the marinade, in a roasting tray lined with a non-stick oven mat and roast on the top shelf of the oven for 8 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the chops to rest for 4 minutes, covered with foil. Baste with the oil and butter mixture, and then return the chops to the oven for a further 2 minutes, or until tender and charred. Leave to rest for a further 5 minutes before serving.
  • 4. To make the aubergine puree, preheat the oven to 240˚C/Fan 220˚C/Gas 9. Place the aubergine directly on the oven rack and roast for 15-20 minutes until it is very soft and the skin is charred. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then scoop the flesh into a blender or food processor with the lemon juice and salt to taste and blitz until a smooth paste forms, set aside. Turn the oven temperature down to 180˚C/ Fan 160˚C/Gas 4.
  • 5. Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan; add the cumin seeds and sauté over a medium heat until they crackle. Add the onion, green chilli and ginger, and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir in the aubergine paste and continue sautéing until blended and hot. Adjust the salt, if necessary, then set aside and keep hot.
  • 6. Arrange the chops on plates with the aubergine purée. Garnish and serve immediately.

Atul Kochhar’s Benares: Michelin Starred Cooking book

For those who want the Michelin spirit of cooking in their home, this book provides the cornerstone to fine dining preparation. This book is a benchmark work to treasure, and features excellent photography by Mike Cooper.

Atul’s book Benares is published by Absolute Press in June 2015.

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