Gaurav Anand, chef and owner of four critically acclaimed and internationally recognized NYC restaurants - Bhatti Indian Grill, Moti Mahal Delux, Awadh and the newly opened hotspot aRoqa - is one of the youngest restaurateurs in the city. He has been praised by numerous media outlets for the authenticity and innovation he brings to Indian cuisine, and includes 2 Star reviews by The New York Times. He has created sold out dinners at the prestigious James Beard Foundation, and Awadh was rated the best Indian restaurant in NYC by Village Voice. Chef Anand has also been featured on numerous television appearances, including Good Day New York (Fox5), Dining Deal with Tony Tantillo (CBS NY), The Best Thing I Ever Ate (Cooking Channel), Neighborhood Eats with Lauren Glassberg (ABC 7).
"I arrived in New York City eight years ago with two suitcases and a lot of dreams, dreams of expanding my culinary empire and giving people in this city a taste of something fresh and exciting in terms of Indian cuisine.” With the opening of his third restaurant Awadh on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Gaurav introduces New Yorkers to the rich culinary heritage of a little known region in northern India.
Born into a family of lawyers and restaurateurs from New Delhi, Gaurav had his culinary path set before him at an early age. After graduating from college where he studied business administration, he worked with his brother Saurabh’s catering company. At one event, he wondered why there was a delay in the food and inquired about it in the kitchen. The chef challenged him to cook the food himself if he didn’t like the pace and Anand realized that, to be a restaurateur, he would need to learn how to handle the kitchen as well. That is when his journey truly started.
Not formally trained as a chef, Gaurav learned by watching chefs and recreating their recipes. He would stand in the kitchen for hours as the chefs cooked, picking up techniques and forming the basis for his own style. He slowly learned how to mix spices, create marinades and explore ingredients that bring out flavors in vegetables and legumes like okra, eggplant and chickpeas.
A spark that ignited on his first trip to New York City to visit his then girlfriend, now wife, in 2006 meant that Gaurav would have to act on even bigger aspirations. He realized that New York was the place to build his career in as it was the epicenter of a multi-cultural hotpot, a city that had numerous Indian restaurants but nothing that would set them apart in a way that he had envisioned.
Bhatti Indian Grill, Gaurav’s first restaurant, opened in the bustling Murray Hill neighbourhood of Manhattan in 2007 to rave reviews. Bhatti became a destination for anyone craving a taste of authentic north Indian cuisine, and earned a spot on the city’s culinary map.
Following the success of Bhatti Indian Grill, Anand was approached by one of the owners of Moti Mahal Delux, an acclaimed restaurant chain from India. Anand, along with his brother, sought to bring the authentic taste of Mughlai cuisine to New York via the franchise and opened Moti Mahal Delux in the summer of 2012. A few months after it opened, Moti Mahal Delux earned a prestigious 2 star review from The New York Times, one of only a handful of Indian restaurants to ever receive such a rating. This review would change the course of the restaurant and Gaurav's career forever.
During his travels back to India, Gaurav journeyed to Lucknow in the Awadh region and fell in love with the flavors of the cuisine and the dum pukht slow cooking style popular in the region. Opened in May 2014, Awadh is a showcase for a storied region’s cooking and the realization of a dream to be among the forefront of Indian restaurateurs in America. Among other accolades, the Village Voice named Awadh “Best Indian” that year.
Gaurav’s latest venture was aRoqa, which offers an elevated Indian dining experience that marries traditional Indian cooking techniques with global flavors and creative cocktails. Gaurav took inspiration from his travels around the world to create a one-of-a-kind menu that marries Western and Indian flavors and techniques. The food goes far beyond traditional Indian cooking, utilizing ingredients not generally found in the cuisine: avocado, kale, tomatillos, bacon, goat cheese and more.
"I had a lot to learn, about the culture, the environment, and above all the food and hospitality industry, which is very competitive. I kept my head down, my chin high and kept moving on. I had high goals ahead of me and knew the sky was the limit. The look on people's faces when they have eaten one of my creations is priceless, and it makes all my hard work and my struggles completely worth it."
Bhatti Indian Grill, Gaurav’s first restaurant, opened in bustling Murray Hill in July 2008 to rave reviews.
Diners who experienced Anand’s cooking got a taste of what was missing in the city’s culinary expanse – northern Indian food with a focus on the tandoor oven (Bhatti). Kebabs soon became the specialty of the restaurant, as Anand explored the act of balancing flavors with meats and vegetables. Bhatti Indian Grill became a destination for anyone craving a taste of authentic north Indian cuisine, and earned a spot on the city’s culinary map.
Following the success of Bhatti Indian Grill, Anand was approached by one of the owners of Moti Mahal Delux, an acclaimed restaurant chain from India. Anand, along with his brother, sought to bring the authentic taste of Mughlai cuisine to New York via the franchise and opened Moti Mahal Delux in the summer of 2012.
In Anand’s hands, the signature dishes of Moti Mahal Delux came alive. He and his skilled team received extensive training from master chefs from Moti Mahal Delux in New Delhi and New York. In the course of their education, they learned the techniques that make this food so compelling: rich, tender, well balanced with nuanced spice and layered flavors. There were no short-cuts to the food – cans were banned from the kitchen, the purees made from fresh tomatoes, and whole spices ground to make powdered spice mixes.
The hard work didn’t go unnoticed - a few months after it opened, Moti Mahal Delux earned a prestigious 2 star review from The New York Times, one of only a handful of Indian restaurants to ever receive such a rating. This review would change the course of the restaurant and Anand’s career forever.
When Gaurav Anand first visited the city of Lucknow in the Awadh region, the historical legacy and the vibrancy of Awadhi cuisine changed the course of his life forever. He mastered “Dum Pukht,” the art of cooking over a slow fire, from the culinary masters of the region. The technique, some 200 years old, involves cooking in a sealed heavy bottomed pot or “handi” over a very low flame, which allows meats to cook in their own juices. Returning to New York, he found that no restaurant focused on traditional Awadhi cuisine. Once again, he immersed himself in a cuisine, learning its techniques and working with a chef from the region to provide an authentic culinary experience.
With Awadh, Gaurav presents a culmination of culinary finesse of the finest food from India’s sacred and historic land, creating experiences and memories through flavors as you explore meats, vegetables, seafood, kebabs, curries and breads that will leave a lasting impression on your palate.
In India, a “roka” ceremony is where friends and family come together to enjoy the engagement of a couple and celebrate by sharing a meal.
In collaboration, chef Gaurav Anand envisioned aRoqa to be a celebration of diversity and culture, merging Indian flavors with a global palate and cocktail culture.
At aRoqa, Chef Anand created a unique marriage of cuisine and cocktails in a chic, sophisticated setting, to create an elevated experience, focusing on small plates with indian flavors.