If you missed the show on the 24th April, watch below Saira working at Benares, under the watchful eye of chef Atul. She needs to make sure the lamb is cooked to perfection or she will need to do it again!
How does it feel to return to Benares?
It feels great to come back to the restaurant that has contributed the
most to my professional development. I love the team, food, concept and I have always admired Atul.
What is your favourite dish on the menu?
The Tandoori Murgh for two. It is a classic Tandoor roast using an Organic Free Range Norfolk Chicken. It tastes and smells fantastic and is delightful to share.
How has the restaurant changed since you last worked here?
The restaurant has evolved by adopting dishes that have more traditional feel.
I am also very happy with that the restaurant has adopted a sophisticated recycling system, reducing waste and becoming more environmentally friendly.
How are your own cookery skills? Have you picked up any tips from Atul?
Cooking is my hobby, it helps me to relax. I am not the type of person that will follow a recipe, but Atul has helped me understand how to cook with spices. Many people that I have cooked for have complimented me on my ability to cook with different spice (I hope they are not lying!).
Benares welcomed some of London’s finest food bloggers to the restaurant this week to celebrate a brand new menu.
The night started with a Terraza Rosa Cocktail at the Chef’s Table and then Atul hosted a demo in the kitchen to showcase his tandoor smoked scallops dish and his famous soft shell crab with saffron mayonnaise dressing. Followed by an a la carte banquet in the main dining room including Kolkata style mackerel; Chicken tikka pie; Taggiasca marinated salmon; Scottish lobster with fricassee of Okra and Mango and Cannon of lamb with umbles samosa, purple crushed potato (“best potato I have ever had”- @tehbus).
Sides were extremely popular too with garlic, peshwari and garam flour naans, spinach with paneer, sautéed baby potatoes in roasted cumin and a selection of golden dals.
Desserts wolfed down included Betel leaf baba, Chocolate peanut butter tube with jaggerycake and Rose and raspberry bhapa doi.
We’ve decided to spice up the Olympics a little, in traditional Benares style. Giovanni Spezziga, the Bar Manager here at Benares has developed three cocktails to celebrate the games this summer. Available throughout July and August, we hope you’ll agree they are all winners (sorry!).
Giovanni: “Gold is named Morning Glory and is a beautiful cocktail of 25 year old Chivas, Goldschläger, Martini Gold and our secret recipe syrup. This is a cocktail of Kings, and perfect for the top spot. Next up is our silver which we’ve aptly called Looking Forward to Next Time with Olmeca Tequila Plata (silver), white crème de cacao liqueur and kirsch. This is a cocktail which will make you hungry for next time! And third, but certainly not last, is the Cool Runnings for bronze. This is a delicious cocktail but with plenty of bitters- perhaps like the bronze winners this summer! Celebrating the games has never been so delicious!
At Benares we take our food and wine-matching very seriously. Our Group Wine Buyer, Costanzo Scala, answers some of our guests’ questions below…
1: What is the best thing about Indian food and wine matching?
It’s the fact that is a less travelled road and in that respect, it means you can be the first to discover some amazing matches. Indian Food matched with wine is like exploring and with that comes adventure, danger, excitement and surprises.
It is a very special time when you discover a food and wine match combination and share it with guests who enjoy gastronomic experiences
2: What is the trickiest combination to match?
In Indian food, without a doubt, it’s Chilli. . In fact the excessive use of chilli, besides taking your palate to extremes can causes an important numbness to your senses. Indian cuisine is possibly one of the most complex cuisine in the world and is reknown for its incredible array of spices. Sometimes up to 35 ingredient are present in a dish, Spices (and not chilli only) make it Indian cuisine unique & incredibly multidimensional….However if the use of chilli is is disproportionate all this wonderful layers of spices instead of amplifying on your palate could completely disappear. Especially when it comes to wine it’s very important that are the spices and their beautiful subtlness to be protagonist and not only the chilli I do strongly believe that everyone palate is different and everyone should enjoy what suits best their palate…however on the other hand it’s extremely important for me to stand by the core of my job which is the one to protect and enhance some of the most incredble Indian dishes ever cooked along some of the finest wines ever made!
3: What is your favourite match?
Tandoor Tiger Prawns with Mont du toit, Wellington, South Africa 2003
4: What do you think about Indian wines and do you serve them at Benares?
Indian wines are improving year by year. We feel that some of them are not yet ready to stand out in such a competitively market such as the UK/London (but they soon will be)…however the ones we have are very well recieved and positively suprise our more adventurous guests . We always keen to add more and more to our wine list.
5: What is the one grape you can’t live without?
More than Grape I couldn’t leave without certain styles of wine. I love creamy and buttery styles of white wine, and round medium bodied red wines with the right degree of fruit ripeness and oak!
Executive Chef at The Modern Pantry, and part of our Chef Season, we grab 60 seconds with our favourite Kiwi.
What’s your favourite ingredient at the moment and why?
I am loving forced rhubarb because it is delicious, in season and very versatile. A great dessert – poached with lemongrass and vanilla and served with stem ginger ice cream and equally brilliant with savoury – pickled with star anise and chilli and served with smoked duck.
What was your favourite dish on the Chef Season menu?
I love Atul’s tandoor trout. It is just so super tasty.
What is your Desert Island spice?
That is an impossible question to answer! Fennel, star anise, cumin and mustard seeds. Oh, and fresh turmeric and curry leaves, and then the chillies – Urfa, Aleppo, chipotle… I absolutely need more than one.
You get to have one last meal on the planet- what is it and where would you eat it?
A head to toe feast of pork in all its incarnations and I’d eat it at home with family and friends
Welcome to our brand new website for my restaurant, Benares. We’re very proud to share it with you, and hope that you will find it clear, easy to navigate and full of useful information about what we do at Benares.
At Benares we strive to innovate and deliver new and exciting experiences to our customers. Take for example our wine list now being available on iPads. It’s incredible to me how technology has come on since I first started! I will be updating this blog regularly with comments on sustainability, seasonality, recipes and pics of me out on my culinary travels.
We are also in the midst of our Chef Season, where we proudly showcase the work of some of my favourite Chefs in the world in the Benares Bar. Each month another chef (Anna Hansen from The Modern Pantry; David Thompson from Nahm; Nigel Haworth from Northcote; Richard Corrigan from Corrigan’s, Mayfair so far- more to be announced!) cooks with me and we prepare a menu of exciting dishes available only in the bar for a limited period. There have been some amazing dishes so far!
See our Events Page
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See you on here soon,