Trying to keep up with the explosion in Indian cuisine is a major undertaking. Indian cooking has influenced (and been influenced by) so many waves of migration and exploration that it’s difficult to define where “traditional” Indian food ends and fusion begins. The techniques, ingredients, and experiences of Indian cuisine have become fertile ground for exploration by some of the world’s finest chefs. Many are honoring their own heritage, but others have adopted Indian ingredients or techniques simply because they align well with the chefs’ personal palate. The beauty of fusion food comes from these sometimes unexpected crossover combinations of ethnicity and experimentation.
Here are just a few Indian fusion restaurants making waves worldwide.
This Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco’s Taj Campton Place hotel is the brainchild of executive chef Srijith Gopinathan, who has made a career upending diner’s expectations of California cuisine. Dishes like black cod with tamarind jaggery (unrefined palm sugar), chickpea sundal, sunchoke chai, and truffle cake fill a relatively spare menu inspired by Gopinathan’s South Indian heritage and his love of unique California ingredients.
Located in the posh Mayfair neighborhood of London, Benares bills itself as “modern Indian cuisine with a contemporary British twist.” There are several menus to choose from, from a thali lunch menu to the dinner prix fixe, which features high-quality, locally sourced ingredients like Scottish scallops and New Forest wild venison. The wine list is particularly expansive and pairs well with the bold and rich flavors of the menu’s classic dishes. If you love the restaurant’s style, you can sign up for a cooking class from executive chef Brinder Narula.
Trèsind was orginated by “experience curators” Himanshu Saini and Sherine John, a Delhi-born chef and a mixologist from Kerala. These young visionaries bring their bold approach to the food and drink at Trèsind’s locations in Kuwait, Dubai, and Mumbai. Both Saini and John have paired traditional ingredients with the latest techniques in mixology and molecular gastronomy, producing innovative dishes like tofu paturi with Indian chilli chips and the creamy daulat ki chaat with soan papdi crumbles and gold dust.
Just south of Central Park in the Parker New York hotel, Indian Accent is the creation of Manish Mehrotra, an award-winning chef who wanted to reinterpret “nostalgic Indian dishes with an openness towards global techniques and influences.” His original restaurant opened in a New Delhi hotel in 2009 before this branch opened in 2016 (there’s also a London branch). The menus at Indian Accent are full of imaginative small plates like beet and peanut butter tikki with goat cheese raita, and kulchas stuffed with pastrami and mustard. Reviewers have notes that the cuisine bears the marks of India, China, and even New York’s famous Carnegie Deli.
London is rich in Indian fusion cuisine, but few are more exciting than Quilon, which focuses on traditional Goan and Keralan dishes made to suit modern tastes. Seafood is often the star, but they also offer some astounding vegetarian options, including fresh and springy coconut curry with asparagus and snow peas. Quilon is headed up by Sriram Aylur, a second-generation chef whose cuisine brought in the restaurant’s first Michelin star in 2008—currently the only South Indian restaurant to earn one.