At Benares the superior service and setting are the height of luxury, but it is the sublime food that truly sets the restaurant apart. Atul Kochhar’s unique, world-class cuisine is showcased in this beautiful book of recipes from his Michelin-starred kitchen. 80 signature dishes reflect the excellent food ethos that Atul has created using the best of British produce with his modern Indian style. Every aromatic desire is explored on a journey to the heart of Benares, revealing exotic fusions and dazzling flavours. Across savoury dishes, desserts, sides and accompaniments and cocktails, each heavenly taste is a tribute to this master’s work. This is not the same Atul as seen on TV – it’s the Atul who has conquered the Michelin world with his expert gastronomy.
Tamatar Ka Salad (Heritage Tomato Salad)
Murg Adraki (Chicken and Ginger)
Masala Chai Soufflés (Spiced Tea Soufflés)
Tamatar Ka Salad
(Heritage Tomato Salad)
sunflower oil for deep-frying
1 fennel bulb
500g heritage tomatoes in a mixture of shapes, sizes and colours – try a mix of yellow, green, purple and red sea salt
For the dressing
50ml virgin olive oil
1 small fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon chaat masala
1 teaspoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
juice of ½ lime
micro basil cress
very, very finely chopped coriander leaves and chives
2 lindi (long) peppers
Since I have been cooking in the UK, I have come to appreciate the heritage tomatoes – the yellow, green, cherry, plum and beefsteak varieties – and I particularly like using them to add colour and zing to dishes, delighting diners with an element of the unexpected. Here, the umami from the spices, the balance of acidity and sugar from the tomatoes paired with a seasonal raspberry dressing is just an amazing explosion of flavours – exactly what we do at Benares.
Please do not store your tomatoes in the fridge – the cold suppresses their flavour. If you must keep them in the fridge, however, be sure to take them out 30–40 minutes before eating so they come to room temperature.
Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 190°C. Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, very thinly slice the fennel bulb. Deep-fry the fennel slices until golden brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil, then put them in a warm oven to keep them crisp until you are ready to serve.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients and salt to taste into a non-metallic bowl and crush or muddle the raspberries to get a thick, chutney-like consistency.
Cut different types of tomatoes into thick slices, then arrange them on a serving platter and add the fennel. Drizzle the dressing liberally over and garnish with the basil cress and finely chopped coriander and chives. Using a fine grater, grate the lindi pepper over and sprinkle with sea salt. It’s ready to serve.
(Chicken and Ginger)
300g minced chicken breast
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
a pinch of garam masala
4 x 180g boneless chicken supremes, skin on
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
very fine julienne sticks of peeled fresh ginger, deep-fried until crisp
micro amaranth cress
black and white sesame seeds, mixed
Ginger Chutney (page 263)
Mangalore Tomato Chutney (page 263)
Mint and Coriander Chutney (page 263)
It seems there is a lot happening in this recipe but look closely – it’s a combination of virtually chicken and ginger only. I have brought in flavours from across India and borrowed some techniques from the UK for this recipe. The chicken and ginger flavours work sincerely well with each other – try it!
Mix together the chicken mince, spring onion, ginger, garam masala and salt to taste, then divide into 4 equal portions and set aside. One at a time, place the chicken supremes between 2 layers of clingfilm and flatten them using a meat mallet or rolling pin. As each supreme is flattened, place it on a fresh piece of clingfilm, skin side down. Place one portion of the chicken mixture on top and roll the flesh around the chicken mince, wrapping tightly in the clingfilm. Knot each end to hold the shape.
Clip a sugar thermometer to a saucepan filled with water and heat the water to 90°C. Add the chicken roulades, still wrapped in clingfilm, and poach for 12–15 minutes until they feel firm. Remove them from the water and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before unwrapping.
To serve, heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Unwrap the chicken roulades and pat them dry. Sear them in the pan for 1–2 minutes until they are lightly coloured all round and heated through – a metal skewer should go into the stuffing and come out hot. Cut the ends off to get neat, even cylinders, then cut each roulade into thick slices.
Divide the chicken slices among 4 plates and add the ginger chutney, tomato chutney and mint and coriander chutney. Garnish and serve.
Masala Chai Soufflés
(Spiced Tea Soufflés)
160g egg whites
1 teaspoon caster sugar, plus extra for coating the ramekins
300g Masala Pastry Cream (below)
butter, softened, for greasing the ramekins
icing sugar for dusting
cassia bark or cinnamon sticks, to decorate (optional)
dried bay leaves, to decorate (optional)
vanilla ice cream, to serve
For the pistachio crumble
10g caster sugar
20g plain white flour
20g ground pistachios
For the Masala Chai
250ml whole milk
100ml double cream
8cm cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns, crushed, plus extra to decorate (optional)
3 cloves, crushed, plus extra to decorate (optional)
2 green cardamom pods, bruised, plus extra to decorate (optional)
1 star anise, crushed
3 English Breakfast tea bags
2 teaspoons loose Earl Grey tea
For the Masala Pastry Cream
100g egg yolks
75g caster sugar
25g plain white flour
Masala Chai (see above)
Masala chai is something we Indians can drink all day during winter months. We believe that it gives us warmth – and this dessert gives me feeling of home that’s warm and full of love.
Make the pistachio crumble up to 4 days in advance and store in an airtight container. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/Gas 3. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the metal blade and pulse until it forms the texture of breadcrumbs. Spread out in a baking tray lined with a non-stick oven mat and bake for 8 minutes, or until it colours slightly but doesn’t turn brown. Tip out of the tray and leave to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and set aside until required.
Make both the masala chai and the pastry cream up to 24 hours in advance and chill in a covered container until required. To make the masala chai, put all the ingredients into a saucepan, slowly bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with clingfilm and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl and discard the flavouring ingredients. Set aside to cool completely. If not using immediately, cover and chill.
To make the pastry cream, mix the egg yolks, sugar and flour together in a heatproof bowl, whisking until the sugar dissolves, then set aside. Return the strained masala chai to the boil, then whisk it into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Return this mixture to the pan and simmer over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes, whisking constantly, until it is thick and leaves the side of the pan. Transfer to a clean bowl, press a piece of clingfilm on to the surface to prevent a skin forming and set aside to cool. If not using immediately, transfer to the fridge when cool.
When you are ready to bake the soufflés, remove the pastry cream from the fridge in enough time for it to come to room temperature, if necessary. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Grease the side of four 175ml ramekins with butter and coat with caster sugar, tipping out the excess.
Whisk the egg whites with the sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in the masala pastry cream. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 2.5cm plain nozzle and pipe it evenly into the ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until risen and golden brown on top. Do not open the door until they are risen.
Have the decorations arranged on the plates before the soufflés finish baking. When the soufflés come out of the oven, dust with icing sugar, sprinkle with the pistachio crumble and serve immediately, with ice cream and pistachio crumb on the side.
Extract taken from Benares published by Absolute Press, £30.00, Hardback, Photography © Mike Cooper