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Atul Kochhar will launch a colonial style restaurant, named Benares, in Madrid in September. (Atul Kochhar/Facebook photo)

MADRID — The first Indian chef to earn a Michelin star, also regarded as one of the best in London, is slated to launch his new restaurant, Benares, in the Spanish capital of Madrid, the media reported Aug. 10.

London-based chef Atul Kochhar, 44, plans to launch Benares, a spin-off from his Mayfair restaurant with the same name, which won a Michelin star (the hallmark of fine dining) in 2007, in the up-market street of Zurbano in September, The Local news portal reported.

“I’m going to enjoy playing with the tapas concept, drawing influence from street food from all across India,” Kocchar explained.

According to the chef, the colonial style restaurant promises to transport diners to the banks of the Ganges. Stretching the length of the restaurant above a shallow pool of flowing water, a film shot from a barge floating past the ghats of India’s holy city of Varanasi will be projected onto the exterior wall.

“The idea is to recreate the feeling of Varanasi, the light, the sights, the smells,” he said.

“I was born in east India, moved with my family to north India and studied in south India, so I take influence from all over. It’s more pan-Indian, but it also takes into account locally grown produce, so Madrid will be different from my other restaurants.”

One of the biggest challenges, he accepts, is catering to the Spanish palate.

“It is a challenge I am really looking forward to. Spanish palates have become a lot more discerning. Spaniards have become more experimental, more open to learning about ethnic food.”

“Also, pork and beef, which I haven’t used in London, is so prevalent here that I will be creating dishes with those meats,” he said. “It’s a chance to get a bit more into the Spanish mindset,” the chef added.

Kochhar won his first Michelin star at his London restaurant Tamarind in 2001 before earning another at his Mayfair restaurant Benares in 2007.

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