Star of the sea
named a cruise ship. Her Royal Yacht Britannia, in service from 1954 to 1997, is now an attraction in Edinburgh.
“God bless her and all who sail in her,” the Queen gives the traditional blessing and presses the button. The over-sized bottle comes flying down on its wires to explode in a shower of glass and foam against the side of the ship. The rousing strains of Rule Britannia fill the air while red, white and blue streamers rain from the sky, and she’s off. Grandma, you would have loved it. “THE word Sindhu can mean ‘meeting point’ or ‘fusion’ in Hindi. And that’s what my cuisine is, an amalgamation of British and Indian.”
Atul Kochhar is talking British-Indian food and cooking at sea
The first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star, Kochhar began his cooking career at the Oberoi group of hotels in south India. In 2007 he opened the glamorous Benares restaurant in London’s Mayfair and quickly gained a reputation as a pioneer of high-end modern Indian cooking.
Kochhar brought his signature panIndian fusion food to P&O in 2009, with the development of his Sindhu restaurant, which is joining the line-up of topnotch dining on the new Britannia.
But before he’d even picked up a knife on board, Kochhar says he spent a year learning about the logistics of cruise catering.
“The longest journey between stops is five days across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, but usually the ship stops every day or every other day to reload with fresh ingredients,” he says.
“The advantage for me is that Indian food classically uses a lot of store cupboard ingredients. Beans, rice, flour, spices – these are the pillars of traditional Indian food, which is very useful when you’re cooking at sea.” Fresh ingredients are replenished at each stop. Britannia launches with the promise of “the best of British”, and Kochhar is an excellent ambassador.
“The UK is more culturally and socially integrated than India and that allows a more curious, more beautiful and more integrated style of Indian food. What these top Indian chefs here are doing isn’t Indian food but British food.”