Influential Names in the UK’s Indian Food Scene

Unlike other cuisines, the Indian food scene in Britain is relatively young. However, it has already undergone some extensive changes; rather than the typical curry houses of previous generations, diners can now experience modern and exciting cuisine in establishments across the country – particularly in some of London’s best Indian restaurants.

This has not all been down to chance. Some of India’s most talented chefs and restaurateurs have been bringing their skills to our shores for the past few decades, raising the bar of traditional Indian dining.

So who are some of the most influential people in the industry? Here is a brief guide to some of the names that you should know.

Camellia Panjabi

With over 30 years’ experience in the food and hotel industry, Camellia Panjabi is at the forefront of the global Indian food scene. After studying economics at Cambridge, Mumbai-born Camellia became Marketing Director of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, India’s most prestigious hotel group, where she helped to launch over 40 restaurants. She is now Group Director of the Masala World restaurant company, which owns London’s Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and Michelin-starred Amaya, as well as the popular chain of Masala Zone brasseries. In 2011, Camellia and her sister Namita were named in the Women 1st Top 100 Most Influential Women listing. Her book ‘50 Great Curries of India’ remains the best-selling curry book in the world, almost a decade after its first publication.

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Atul Kochhar

Atul Kochhar is an Indian born chef, restaurateur and TV personality; making regular appearances on popular shows such as Masterchef, Great British Menu and BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Atul trained at some premier establishments in India, before working at London Mayfair’s Tamarind, where he achieved the first ever Michelin star for an Indian chef, aged just 31. Soon after, he opened Benares in Berkeley Square, which won its own star in 2007. He has also worked as an advisor to Marks and Spencer, on their in-store range of Indian food.

Cyrus Todiwala

Born and raised in Mumbai, Cyrus Todiwala is something of a success story. After training at the respected Taj Hotel group, he went on to become executive chef across many of the group’s restaurants, before moving to Britain with his family. Cyrus was awarded an MBE in 2000 for services to the catering industry, followed a decade later by an OBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List. His restaurant Café Spice Namasté opened in 1995, and was named Best Asian Restaurant Business of the Year at the 2013 Asian Business Awards. Recently, Cyrus has become a TV personality as one half of BBC Two’s popular series The Incredible Spice Men.

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Karunesh Khan

Having held a Michelin star at Knightsbridge restaurant Amaya since 2006, Karunesh Khan is one of the most respected head chefs in the industry. After training at some of India’s finest hotels and restaurants, he now uses this expertise to create exciting dishes at the fine dining Indian restaurant. The concept is essentially an Indian grill using three methods – tandoor, sigri and tawa – with tapas-style dishes being freshly prepared from the visible kitchen. Amaya manages to strike a perfect balance between authenticity and indulgence, and is one of London’s most glamorous Indian establishments.

Head to any of these restaurants for a true taste of the best Indian cooking in the world, right on the UK’s doorstep.