The Oberoi, Nariman Point, Mumbai.
Meal for two: Rs 8,000
A foodie friend of mine in London taught me an interesting fact of life some years ago. “There are basically three types of Indian restaurants in London,” he said. “At the bottom are the ones that serve food that’s neither good nor authentic. Above them are the ones that serve food that’s good and authentic. But right at the top are those restaurants that serve food that’s good, but not authentic; instead, it’s reinvented for the global palate.” And that’s what Vineet Bhatia is all about. In fact, he is one of the people who started that whole “reinvented-for-the-global-palate” ball-game: a culinary version of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, perhaps.
Bhatia is also the man who set up Ziya. He’s based in London, where he runs his Michelin-starred Rasoi Vineet Bhatia, but he visits regularly to make sure everything’s OK. Eager to try as many things as we could, we decided on their tasting menu: seven small, superb courses, from tandoori Scottish salmon and thyme-and-goat-cheese chicken tikka to nariyal mirch jhinga and hot-chocolate-and-zeera fudge. The food was wonderful, but one caveat: don’t expect it to taste anything like the khana at your usual favourite Indian restaurant. Ziya pays its respects to Indian culinary traditions, and yet it’s very creative, especially in its combinations of unexpected flavours, textures, and even temperatures. If you come here, make sure you arrive with as open a mind as possible: order their “butter chicken” and you might get the shock of your life.