11 Fantastic Fine Dining Indian Restaurants Around The Globe
11 Indian Fine Dining Restaurants That Will Make Your Jaw Drop
Expatriates of any nation know the ache and longing of craving your homeland's food when you're abroad. It's often the first thing you reminisce and probably even feel homesick for. But while there are many restaurants that cater to the Indian palate around the globe today, very few capture that essence of India—the inescapable truth that the manner in which we experience it at home, and on the streets, simply cannot be replicated.
Given the fact that most Indian food has reached foreign shores the same way Indians did—migrating in search of a better life or even survival—the risk factor has always been low because people have been trying to make ends meet with it. Culinary innovativeness, or even authenticity in many cases was not feasible so if butter chicken and naan appealed to the foreigners' palates, butter chicken and naan was exactly what they were going to get. In the process, a slightly bastardised version of North Indian food came to stand for the whole of Indian food for a very long time, and it was only a matter of time before some body or many bodies came along to change it.
Currently, the timing's never been better. Culinary arts are at an all-time high, and the time for pushing boundaries is ripe. Opportunities have expanded and second and third-generation Indians have become bolder in their decisions to represent Indian cuisine at its fullest potential. In that vein, the restaurants we have selected here are on another level, with ideas so creative and innovative that they have propelled Indian food to a level where its treated with the respect given to the aesthetics of French and Italian cooking. We've got Chocosamosas (samosas made with chocolate, life can't get better than this) and goat stew from the Northeast. We've ditched butter naan for the upscale truffle naan and a yoghurt amuse bouche which encases raita. All in all, this is Indian food in its Sunday best—ready to show the world it's as good as any of the other upmarket options on offer.
I. Amal at the Armani Hotel, Dubai
Brainchild of Chef Ashwani
Given Dubai’s reputation as a flashy sort of city, imagine our surprise to see the understated (but luxurious!) Amal. Located at the beautifully tall Burj Khalifa, there’s a lounge where you can listen to live sitar music and a main dining room that closely resembles stylish American dining halls. With breathtaking views of the downtown Dubai neighbourhood and the Dubai fountain, this place has fast become the place for patrons to try an upscale take on fine Indian food. The dishes are from various regions of India and there’s a lot of fusion; tandoori duck spring roll, anyone?
What You’re Getting: The Lamb Shank in Hyderabadi Curry is out of this world, and if you’re feeling dessert, try the aam ka phiri and apricot cream.
Brainchild of Ashok Bajaj
You can practically see the White House from here, and boy is this place fancy! This place is reminiscent of the British Raj, but unlike Gymkhana in London, this place has a quiet atmosphere and a cool collected power crowd of congresspeople, media powerhouses, lawyers and lobbyists. In fact, rumour has it that President Bush was once a patron. The mood here is festive and you can always hear piano accompaniment, so if you're feeling the need to bring on your Olivia Pope, here's the place to do it.
What You’re Getting: Some delectable sev puri, marinated lamb chops, tandoori salmon and truffle naan. The tender duck kebab marinated in garam masala is also top notch.
Brainchild of Rajesh and Sanjeev Karmacharya
A little more hip than your average fine dining fair, Cumin opened its door in 2010 to much fanfare. The best part about it is it also brings the flavours of India’s lesser known cuisines such as the Northeastern region, and includes dishes from Nepal. Founded by brothers, Cumin is inspired by their heritage and the kind of food Rajeev and Sanjeev enjoyed in their childhood, but found that there was a lack of Northeastern food sources out west. Combining this lack with chic presentation, Cumin was born.
What You’re Getting: Drawing from their heritage, you can expect to find ghorkali khasi (goat stew) and palungoko saag (sauteed spinach) along with chicken jalfrezi.
Brainchild of Gaggan Anand
Gaggan’s story behind finding his passion to start Gaggan is fascinating. Moving to Bangkok in 2007 for a consultancy job,he decided to stay on and fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a chef. Having been on numerous cooking shows before, he presents Indian food in a way that many have not seen it. In fact, you could go as far to say that his work is more art masquerading as food than food itself. He specializes in creating a culinary experience that he calls progressive Indian cooking. This isn’t your common Indian fusion restaurant, but one that serves classic Indian cooking at the height of innovation.
What You’re Getting: Yoghurt Amouse Bouche, a milky white jelly-like sphere which bursts into chaat flavoured raita. Their big mango, which is freeze dried mango in a white chocolate snowball, is nothing like you’ve ever experienced.
Brainchild of Karam Sethi
Inspired by Colonial Indian clubs, the Gymkhana is a throwback to the glamour of the colonial era, and of course you can trust that you’ll have a good time there when their sister restaurant is the beloved Trishna. Covered with ceiling fans, marble table-tops and photos of major polo and cricket team triumphs, the cosy venue in Mayfair uses traditional tandoor ovens and sigri charcoal grills to bring to life much of India’s finest. You'll find numerous expatriates here reliving nostalgia for when the Gymkhana was a place frequented by high society, socialites, businessmen and London's most chic patrons.
What You’re Getting: Goan Pork Vindaloo, slow-cooked chunks of pig cheek and red chilli-garlic masala. Game lovers will find the fried peppered partridge and roe deer with picked spices.
VI. Junoon, Manhattan
Brainchild of Vikas Khanna
When Junoon first came to Manhattan, no one expected the numerous accolades it would win, with its Michelin-starred menu and 250-label wine list. Chef Vikas Khanna’s Junoon, or passion, is one of the main forces behind Junoon’s 6 year success. Serving dining experiences that cater to fine cuisine, their menu reflects the diversity of modern India with a classic twist. With a service style that is both hospitable and knowledgeable, this makes for a great dining experience.Plus, Mr.Khanna won several awards for cooking and hosts masterchef in India. Although New York is a city where there's no dearth of Indian food, a good chunk of falls on the list of grimy at best and flavourless at worst, fortunately Junoon does us Indians proud by presenting a take on Indian food that is as opulent as it is delicious.
What You’re Getting: Noorani Kebab, Eggplant Chaat, Bagarey Baigan, Kerala Shrimp Curry, Lamb Kolhapuri, Paneer Aur Mirchi Ka Salan and Tandoor Roasted Poussin. We’ve been told that coming int contact with any of these dishes will leave a a lingering memory of the flavour for days.
VII. Veeraswamy, Mayfair
Brainchild of the Chutney Mary Group
Known as the Grand Dame Restaurant of London, Veeraswamy is one of the oldest restaurants in London. Veeraswamy aims to bring the best of the South and was established in 1926 by an English General and an Indian princess. It welcomes you in with a regal air and the sepia-toned photos are wonderful to look at; they just transport you to another era.
What You’re Getting: Sholah Chicken, Kerala Prawn Curry, Crab Cakes and Kalaunji Aloo. Though don’t fill yourself up too much because you’re going to want to try their Banana Kulfi and sugarless homemade sorbets.
Brainchild of Karan Gokani
There are some places in the world where you’d never expect killer Indian food, so imagine our surprise when Copenhagen made this list. Housed in a kitschy art deco building and set at the side of a jazz club, this contemporary gastronomic Indian restaurant gives you a homely feel even with its seven course meals. Sit down, relax and enjoy a glass of wine and contemporary jazz by the waterfront.
What You’re Getting: Seafood Biryani here is top notch and sourced from only the best. They also have a wonderfully moist tandoori Guinea fowl breast and a lamb cutlet seasoned with ginger and cardamom.
IX. The Cinnamon Club, London
Brainchild of Vivek Singh and Rakesh Ravindran Nair
One of London’s most posh restaurants, the Cinnamon club is a Victorian building that was once a stunning library. Complete with a gallery filled with books, crisp linens and a grand ceiling, everything here screams of lavishness.
What You’re Getting: Lamb and Beetroot Curry, Sliced Veal Escalope and Fish Fillet, and a fish special called Sea Bream.
X. Rasoi Vineet Bhatia, London
Brainchild of Vineet Bhatia
It's currently closed and reopening in September, but eating at Rasoi is a celebration of fine Indian cooking. For one it looks like a Victorian townhouse, and two it’s Michelin Star grandeur is like none other; it’ll especially hit you when you sink into their cushy armchairs and peruse the menu along with the incredible wine list. Start off with a poppadum and it’ll only go up from there.
What You’re Getting: A Good Ol’ Chicken Tikka, Grilled Scallops and Malabari Lamb Stew served with lemon peanut rice. Craving dessert? Try their Chocomosa, a samosa filled with white and dark chocolate, or you can go after their Madras Coffee Cheesecake.
Words: Divija Mohan