Vineet Bhatia, the world’s first Indian chef to helm a Michelin-starred restaurant, launched Kama by Vineet at the luxury department store, Harrods, on Knightsbridge last night.
The 26-seater is the first Indian restaurant in Harrods’ 180 year history, and is the only branded restaurant in the newly opened Harrods Dining Hall.
Bhatia is no stranger to reinvention: he rebranded the Michelin-starred restaurant Rasoi, just as VBL the autumn before it won its star, which, Isaac Parham wrote in October 2017, set about “swiftly winning over critics with its ambitious tasting menus and eclectic interiors.” Rasoi had held a star for over 12 years. No explanation was given for the closure of VBL, but the chef had tweeted “VBL needs to move out for a fresh start.”
A statement released last night said: “The chef, renowned for redefining gourmet Indian dining in the UK over the past 25 years, is returning to his roots with Kama, and sees Harrods as the perfect venue to showcase his favourite, traditional Indian dishes to a global audience.
“Taken from the Sanskrit word for ‘desire’, Kama underpins Bhatia’s own desire to share his interpretation of Indian cuisine with the world.” The menu at Kama will promote sharing food, and comprises sharing plates and bowls. These include pistachio lamb chops with saffron mash, banana leaf-coconut-chilli sea bass, butter chicken, lobster Chettinad biryani, and lamb rogan josh. Meat and vegetable thalis are also available.
Bhatia said about his new project: “To be given the opportunity to open a restaurant in such an iconic building is so rare, but this is the right place and the right time to showcase our food.Everyone wants to leave Harrods’ with a green bag — I want everyone to leave with memories of Indian food.”
Bhatia says he sees Kama as “coming full circle on his love for Indian cuisine.” When he first arrived in the U.K. in 1993, he says he “embarked on a course of correcting dishes, educating on the correct way to cook traditional Indian food.” Over the course of the next decade, he “began to experiment with recipes, going against the status quo... [aiming to] elevate Indian food to a new level, pushing boundaries, opening his own restaurants, and being awarded a Michelin star.”
Now, Bhatia wants to revisit “his deep love for traditional Indian food by composing a menu of his favourite, homestyle dishes, rooted in his childhood.” This is, he says, what he would cook for people in his own home, “taking the most meaningful aspects of his life’s culinary journey, and playing with the combinations.”
Bhatia added: “If I had to choose the best dishes to be served on any day, at any time, for the rest of my life — these are the dishes I would choose.”