His childhood dream of becoming a pilot was not fulfilled, but his fascination with food and cooking together with an ” ambition and determination to prove myself” as he wrote in the foreword of his cookbook called simply “Rasoi: new indian kitchen“, made him one of the stars of Indian cuisine not only in his home country (Mumbai)but worldwide (with restaurants in Geneva, Dubai, Doha, Mauritius, Moscow and expanding). After an amazing meal at Rasoi I had to purchase the chef’s book and cannot wait to follow his guidance to assemble some of the complex ingredients-rich yet balanced and light dishes I had.
Food: Classical Indian dishes in a much lighter gourmet coat, which the chef calls “evolved Indian food“. As the chef reinvents and refines the Indian dishes so wonderfully that his cooking seduces the palates of even those so far deterred by the heavy, oily and rich curries, fill pastries (samosas) and creamy sauces. I have eaten all across India and I have never tasted anything more sublime than Bhatia’s cooking. He is a true master of spices and elegance as he blends the flavours in a perfect harmony. It is rare to have a tasting menu or try more than eight dishes at one restaurant and like every single of them! And, that is what happened at Rasoi.
The naan and crispy roti breads as well as the trio of crunchy various vegetables filled samosas (filo pastry in triangle shape) were freshly prepared, the dips generous yet not too rich or spicy and all the dishes intrigued our palates. I must elevate the Spiced Home-Smoked Salmon, red Onion, Cucumber and Dill Raita which charmed the palates of all four of us dining at the table. The salmon was so tender that one did not need to chew on it, jut let it melt with all the wonderfully integrated spices from the marinade. Smoking the fish added depth while adding yoghurt into the marinade calmed the smoky flavours just to perfection. The recipe is in the chef’s cookbook, so if you dare you can try it at home.
The Stir-fried Chilli Paneer, Spinach with Potatoes and Pickle-flavoured Tomato Sauce was another superb creation. The paneer cheese is perhaps the most important dairy product used in Indian cuisine. Vegetarians come across the dishes peppered with paneer very often. In Bhatia’s take it got a more gastronomic dimension and an eye-catching presentation as with most of his creations. The paneer was soft and spiced with mustard seeds, ginger, chilli, curry and fresh coriander and sever atop of the tasty spiced Spinach with potatoes and thick savoury Tomato Sauce.
The trio of Chicken Tikkas was like a tasting contest in which each of us had a personal favourite. They were delicious all, tender and almost did not taste like chicken how well-integrated the marinades and sauces were.
The Lamb ‘Shikampuri’ Skewers in a kebab-like fashion did not stand behind and we were so impressed by all the food that although we were all full we still managed to nibble on the pre-desserts brought together with the warming cups of sweet Chai tea served traditionally with milk.
Cuisine: Indian gastronomic.
Visit: March 2013
Price: High (but the quality of ingredients and complexity of the dishes compensates the price, an intimate atmosphere makes a dinner or lunch here a special occasion).
Chef: Vineet Bhatia is the first Indian chef-restaurateur ever to receive a Michelin star at an Indian restaurant (London’s Zaika restaurant in 2001) for his “Indian gourmand experience“, and later another one in his own establishment Rasoi (meaning “kitchen“) in 2006. Thus he is the first Indian chef in the world to have two Michelin stars.
Atmosphere: Rasoi is located in a small townhouse in Chelsea just off the Sloan Square. If you did not have the address and were not going to the restaurant you would probably passed it without noticing it. There is a bell on the door, so you ring the bell, a suited person opens and invites you in. Turning right you pass a tiny bar area and walk through to the cosy restaurant room. With 13 tables spread across two small dining rooms and two private rooms upstairs it really feels like in someone’s house rather than at a restaurant inside. There is no music, no distractions, only authentic decoration in the truly Indian spirit that Rashima, the wife of the chef, created herself.
Drinks: The wine list is impressive as it should be at a Michelin stared restaurant. The list of Bordeaux and Burgundy is particularly food-friendly that we went for the same bottle of red Burgundy twice. I would never have thought of drinking Burgundy with the spicy Indian food, yet Bhatia’s cuisine is more elegant and balanced than most of the super spicy and creamy Indian dishes you might know so it matches the elegant Burgundies. I was disappointed not see a wider tea selection considering India being one of the world’s biggest tea producers, yet the spicy-warm Chai Masala tea after the dinner soothed my tea cravings enough.
Hours: Mon-Fri: Lunch: 12:00–2:30 pm; Dinner: 6:00–10:30 pm; Sat: Dinner: 6:00–10:30 pm; Sun: Closed.
Address: 10 Lincoln Street, Chelsea, London SW3 2TS, UK.
Contact: + 44 020 7225 1881; email: firstname.lastname@example.org