Chef Rajendra Balmiki: Making Indian Cuisine popular in England


Chef Rajendra Balmiki popularly known as “Chef Raja” is one of the England’s most popular and renowned chefs of Indian cuisine. He specialises in authentic Indian cuisines like Mughlai, Hyedrabadi and Lucknowi. He is credited to share his experience and expertise to open many Indian restaurants in England which are running successfully.

This Indian chef has no formal training in cooking from catering institute and it was experience that was his best teacher. Born in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh in India, chef Raja’s passion for food and cuisine was sparked when he was a kid and always wanted to opt cooking as a profession. He trained in leading hotels in India before relocating to England, is regarded as a pioneer in Indian cuisines.

When opportunity came handy, he started his career with legendary Chef Imtiaz Qureshi who is a founder of globally famous Dum Pukht and Bukhara restaurants of ITC hotel chains. Chef Qureshi is first recipient of Padma Shri award.

Since then, he has risen through the ranks and worked with Grand Master celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana fame in Centaur Hotel juhu Beach. Some of the most respected chefs were also the part of Centaur hotels who are globally well known, includes Michelin Star Chef Manjunath Mural of Songs of India restaurant of Singapore, Celebrity Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi at Centaur Hotel Juhu, Chef Machindra Kasture who was the first Chef to President of India, award winning chef Milind Sovani from Singapore. He never looked back and achieved many milestones whatever came his way in his more than two and half decades of culinary journey and carrying out his passion.

Culinary journey from India to England
Chef Raja is currently associated with Jai Ho Indian restaurant in Deganwy, Wales in England. His journey began in Indian Capital city New Delhi at ITC group under legendary Chef Imtiaz Qureshi. Thereafter he joined Sea Rock Sheraton hotel in Mumbai where he played a long inning of eleven years. As he was looking to expand and enhance his culinary skills he joined Centaur Hotel Juhu Beach under Celebrity Grand Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana fame. In centaur hotel he was responsible for leading Indian kitchen where was heading banqueting team. Centaur hotel was known for conducting large banquet events from 3000 to 4000 guest almost on daily basis that included various celebrity events of Indian film industry “Bollywood”. After enhancing his culinary skills in centaur he got an opportunity to move to England which he happily accepted and moved on. His first assignment was at Tagore Indian restaurant at Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent area. He turned around Tagore restaurant and put it on the popular list in Kent area. He worked and trained team of Tagore for four years and moved on. He is got credit of opening leading Indian restaurants in many parts of Englnad. The lists of restaurants includes Kasturi restaurant in Kent, Raj Paivillion in Kent, Bawarchi restaurant in East London, Palm Tree restaurant East London. Indian restaurant in Ham Hammers Street, in Bristol, Southampton, Newbury town in the west of Berkshire and many more parts of England.

Achievements and accolades
Chef Raja Balmiki’s name featured in leading media publication in their reviews for his marvelous cuisines. He is highly recommended by the mainstream food guides The list includes Evening Standard of England, The Observer Magazine, Timeout London, Financial Times of London. He is a Winner of first prize of Celebrity Chef at Barbican – London. He is awarded numerous certificates for his outstanding cuisines many a times.

What fraternity people say
Sanjeev Kapoor –Celebrity Grand Master Chef, Entrepreneur Writer and Television personality.
“Talent has No Boundaries” this word perfectly suits on Chef Rajendra Balmiki. This man has a passion for food. He has only grown to please the taste buds more with every year. He is an asset for the people wherever he works. He creates miracle dishes and guest’s spontaneous reply would be, oh, what an amazing dish. When I was an Executive Chef at Centaur Hotel Juhu Beach, I selected him for the post of chef de partie and made him in-charge of banquet kitchen, he made me proud as his food was well appreciated by every guests.

Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi – Celebrity Chef, Owner of The Funjabi Tadka chains of restaurant, host of cooking show Turban Tadka and Director of Turban Tadka Hospitality Chefs from Centaur hotel are good achiever wherever they work and chef Balmiki is a living example. Indeed he is most sought after chef in England for opening new venture and gives them a precise direction. We being associated with same organisation for long, so it’s really a matter of pride when people praise him and his cuisine with respect.

Chef Manjunath Mural – Michelin Star Chef, Director, The Song Of India Restaurant Singapore
Chef Raja Balmiki and I have worked in Centaur Hotel Juhu Beach where we were able to gain vast knowledge of culinary skills under able leadership of chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Being an ex centaurian, it gives me immense pleasure that team of Centaur hotel Juhu are rocking all over.

Chef Machindra Kasture –First chef for the President of India in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Member Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, Recipient of National Tourism Award currently Executive Chef Ashok Hotel New Delhi
Chef Machindra Kasture (Sitting first from left) with U S President Barack Obama along with chefs of Chef Des Chef Club

A chef is known for hotel he works for and his roots. Chef Raja Balmiki and I have a same root that is Centaur Hotel Juhu Beach. I can proudly say that we centaurian are good performer and can perform against any odds. When I hear his name shining in United Kingdom for his Indian cuisine, it gives enormous pleasure and happiness and feels proud about him.

Report: Sitaram Mewati