Three Indian restaurants won one star rating at the first Michelin Guide Ceremony bringing together New York, Chicago and Washington in New York. The winners were New York City’s Semma, Washington, DC’s Rania and Chicago’s Indienne for high quality Indian cuisine.
“The famously anonymous Michelin Guide inspectors delivered huge news to punctuate a one-night-only celebration for these three culinary communities – buzzing with excitement and emotion, support and encouragement,” said Gwendal Poullennec, the International Director of the Michelin Guides.
“These milestone announcements solidify these cities as some of the best places in the world to visit for culinary adventures,” he said at the Nov 7 event, according to a press release.
According to Michelin Guide a one-star rating means, “high quality cooking, worth a stop,” two stars signify “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” and a three-star restaurant offers “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”
New York’s “Semma is helmed by chef Vijay Kumar, who switched coasts from San Francisco’s Rasa to run the show at Semma, where regional south Indian cuisine is on full display,” Michelin Guide says.
Noting that the restaurant’s “authentic Indian cooking doesn’t pander to American expectations,” the guide advises those unfamiliar with the tastes and some dishes to “lean on the staff who know their stuff and are eager to share.”
It warns that the “dishes are spicy,” but adds that “the heat is used as elegantly as it is liberally.” Some of the dishes the guide recommends are ‘mulaikattiya thaniyam,’ “the chef’s childhood snack that bursts with flavor”; the gunpowder dosa, “a classic rice and lentil crepe filled with potato masala”; and ‘Attu kari sukka,’ “a falling-apart tender lamb in a dark brown curry redolent of warm spices. “
Chef Chetan Shetty of Rania, which translates to “queen” in Hindi and Sanskrit, in DC’s Penn Quarter, “delivers something entirely enticing here with his inventive menu,” the Michelin Guide notes. The menu includes “plenty of contemporary touches along with a few surprises” like the braised pork belly vindaloo, it adds.
“Dishes like shiso leaf chaat balance a playful spirit with elegant overtones, while ghee-roasted lamb folded inside a delicate lentil cheela has a spicy kick that is tempered with a buttermilk mousse.”
For dessert it recommends the “slightly sweet strained yogurt mousse with a hint of pistachio and cardamom.”
Chef Sujan Sarkar makes a splash of his own with Chicago’s Indienne, the guide says. À la carte is available, but first-timers should start with the tasting menu, “where Sarkar delivers an original, modern vision of Indian cuisine,” it recommends.
While Sarkar’s food “may look like pieces of art, it tastes like familiar favorites pulled from across his vibrant homeland.” The food is “deftly spiced and elegantly presented,” the guide says, “at times showcasing a hint of French sensibility.”
The three deserving chefs were encouraged by Vikas Khanna, who took to Instagram, to share photos of the chefs. He wrote that Diwali arrived a little early in the US because not one, but three Indian chefs were recognized by the world’s most prestigious culinary award.
He said he looks forward to the days when every country would house a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant.