Atul Kochhar, the Michelen Star winning chef of Benares, has told MCA that his causal dining concept NRI is scalable and he would like to open more if his debut UK site in Birmingham is a success.
NRI – which stands for Not Really Indian – is a fusion concept inspired by the cross-cultural cuisine of Indian migration.
The Indian born, Britain based chef launched the first NRI in Mumbai as a trial, but said he it was always his plan to bring the concept to the UK.
The 80-cover restaurant and bar is due to launch at The Mailbox in September, and will also have a small 24-cover fine-dining restaurant within a restaurant called Chef’s Table by Benares.
Kochhar said: “I think the UK is the right home for the concept. India is great, but I see more legs for it here than anywhere else. I always saw it like that, but I always wanted to do a restaurant in India. I also wanted to try it out on Indians and give it the seal of perfection.
“It is definitely a scalable concept. We will get set up with one first, and then think about it.
“We have evolved it in India and will have to evolve it for the UK palette.
He said the concept was partly inspired by his book Curries of the World, which explored how Indian migration had created new fusion dishes.
Kochhar said some dishes from NRI Birmingham, which will cost around £25-30 per head, would come from Mumbai, with some “spectacular” and ”quirky” new dishes being worked on.
He said: “There are things I would shy away from using in India. I would have huge inhibitions about using beef and pork in India, but here I would have no problem.
On his choice of location, he added: “Birmingham has always interested me as a city. Its second largest in the UK, with a massive Asian community, a big Indian diaspora. So I thought lets prove the concept. In London I can do any day I want, it would be easy.”
Kochhar said growth of NRI would be organic and funded by the Benares group.