London-based chef Vineet Bhatia, MBE, marks his Indian homecoming with Dhilli at The Oberoi, New Delhi
Chef Vineet Bhatia. (Photo: Mandar Deodhar)
Q. What was the thought behind putting the specialities of the capital’s various neighbourhoods on the Dhilli menu?
Delhi is the self-proclaimed foodie capital of India. But, apart from a few pop-ups doing Dehlvi cuisine, there was not even one restaurant representing all the different foods of Delhi. Dhilli is one of the lesser-known ancient names of Delhi, and that’s what our heart settled on. And what better home for it than The Oberoi, New Delhi, in the heart of the city?
Q. What’s the most surprising feedback you’ve received for Dhilli?
We did away with starters, mains and desserts, instead aligning the menu to specific areas of Delhi like Jama Masjid, Nizamuddin, Rajouri Garden and CR Park. We were expecting pushback…When Dhilli opened, the initial guests appreciated how varied the menu was…like we had the Bengalis saying “thank you for having our doi maach on the menu”. We were prepared to give our reasoning behind the choice of dishes, but the heart-warming response surprised us.
Q. You put Indian cuisine on the global map. How is it being viewed now?
All the techniques done by the Japanese, the French, the Swiss, the Italians, the Americans, it’s all been done here in India. We need to celebrate that. According to surveys, Indian is among the top four cuisines in the world that people want to try. I believe that Indian food is a sleeping giant and it’s on the cusp of really shining.
Q. What’s cooking next?
This year will be the reopening of Amari, our restaurant in Mauritius that burned down a year back. I’m excited to go back to where it all started for me (Mauritius was the first outpost where I started my consultancy way back in 2001). It’s equally exciting to be launching my culinary ethos at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, at the end of this year.