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The Indian link to Queen's B'day menu!

Celebrity chef of Indian origin, Atul Kochar will cook Indian dishes on Queen Elizabeth's birthday.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 17:30 IST

Delicious and spicy Indian food is so popular in Britain that it is all set to figure in the 'Great British Menu' that would be served to Queen Elizabeth and her 300 guests on her birthday on June 17.

Indian dishes for the occasion will be cooked by the celebrity chef of Indian origin, Atul Kochar, who has the distinction of being awarded the Michelin star.

The BBC is currently running a reality show on the 'Great British Menu' in which chefs from various parts of the country prepare dishes.

The TV network selected the country's top 14 chefs from its seven culinary regions.

Using best ingredients from their local area, these chefs were to create a starter, a fish course, a meat course and a dessert that they thought would epitomise all that's best about their region's cuisine.

Their recipes were judged by a panel of three judges and the creator of the best menu was to go through to the national final, vying for a place on the 'Great British Menu 2006'.

In the show, Kochar last week defeated Britain's most celebrated chef, Garry Rhodes. Kochar is now all set to contest in the final round in which he will represent London and South East England.

Queen Elizabeth turned 80 on April 21 but her birthday will be officially celebrated on June 17.

Elaborate arrangements were being made in various parts of the country to celebrate the birthday in style.

At the birthday reception, the queen and her guests would be served the 'Great British Menu' which, it now looks certain, will include several Indian delicacies such as tandoori chicken, pistachio kulfi, peshawari naan and the Bengali bhapa doi.

After defeating Rhodes, Kochar said contesting against the master chef was "pretty nerve-wracking".

"He is the greatest chef Britain has ever produced. It was quite overwhelming for me," Kochar told the newly launched web-radio, www.nrifm.com.

In his starter and fish courses, Kochar used Indian ingredients like coconut milk, ginger sauce and curry leaves.

His main course of tandoori chicken and lentil sauce and desert of kulfi and bhapa doi also had an overwhelming Indian influence.

"British people love eating Indian food. It is not foreign food any more. It has become their own food," Kochar said.

Born in Jamshedpur in eastern India, Kochar said his food is greatly influenced from the culinary secrets he learned in his early life in Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.

He began his career at the Oberoi group of hotels in India.

In 1994, he moved to London where he worked as the head chef of Tamarind, a prestigious Indian restaurant in Mayfair.

By January 2001, at the age of 31, Kochar became the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star.

In 2003, he set up his first independent venture, Benares, in London's exclusive Berkley Square.

He was named 'The Restaurant Personality of the Year 2001' by BIBA - Real Curry Guide and was honoured this year for 'Outstanding Contribution to the Curry Industry' at the 2005 British Curry Awards.

Kochar said he regularly visits various parts of India for inspiration from its culinary culture. His acclaimed cookbook "Indian Essence" is the product of one such trip and he is currently working on a second book on Indian vegetarian food.