Star of the sea

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat -

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.”

NEL­LIE BLUN­DELL

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