Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Indian Accent

In a quiet residential neighbourhood in Delhi, there is a boutique hotel called The Manor. Several years ago, Manish Mehrotra set up shop there, cooking good Indian food. It's not molecular gastronomy but instead, it's a great combination of flavours and textures, plated in a style that's now called 'modern Indian'. Word spread slowly but steadily and Indian Accent is now universally recognised as the best restaurant in India. As I found out on my recent visit, this is a title that the restaurant truly deserves.

I opted for an early 7.30 seating and surprisingly, the restaurant was already full. What was also very pleasantly surprising was seeing Manish himself as I walked in. Despite the acclaim, this is a chef who's modest and humble, even bringing dishes to the tables himself.

A chef's tasting is the best way to experience the place but I was coming in after days of partying so I went ala carte. Manish was sweet enough to give me a starters tasting anyway and I followed it up with a main course, then walked away too full and regretting my inability to eat desserts. I'm gonna show you a lineup of pictures now, because there really is no better way to describe the food.

It starts with an amuse bouche of blue cheese naan and pea shorba.



Then followed an array of starters. The first one was a crispy potato sphere, Manish's take on ragda pattice.



The next one was my favourite of the evening, a khandavi ravioli with arbi and cheese mash.



There was also a baingan bhartha cornetto and a pulled jackfruit phulka (which the chef brought himself and so I forgot to click). Finally, there was this extremely good looking tofu wada with kafir lime gunpowder.



What followed next was a palate cleansing sorbet that has become standard for all these restaurants. At this point, I only had space for one more course so I chose the mains, keeping desserts in reserve for my next visit. What a revelation it turned out to be. I ordered simple dal roti, except the soupy dal came topped with some fried dal and chutneys for textural and flavour contrast.



And the roti was chur chur parantha with Parmesan and pesto.



All in all, every single dish was genius, the service was great and there was attention to detail right upto the churan served on a mini charpoy. When you eat out as often as I do, it keeps getting harder and harder to be surprised with food. Indian Accent, with its fabulous menu and impeccable execution was truly a pleasant surprise. So it may be in unfashionable New Friends Colony, but make it your destination your next trip to Delhi. I may even plan a special trip just to catch up on those desserts I missed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Stories, Stories



Oh! what a week it was. I arrived in Delhi on April 15, all set to meet the other 7 finalists of the kitchenaid probaker contest. But the star of the show was chef Peachy Juban, who had flown in all the way from Manila to teach us cake decorating. It's a good thing she thought of starting with the very basics, specially for someone like me who hadn't even seen fondant before, let alone work with some.

And so it started, five days of cake decoration. For the first two days, we made all the flowers you see on top of my cake. And then we went into things I didn't even know existed; like sugar quilling and brushwork embroidery. It was super tiring but super fun. All through the five days, the kitchenaid team made sure we were enjoying our evenings. One day, we went to the show at Kingdom of Dreams, another day it was dinner with the owner and chief menu designer of Johnny Rockets. There was also a dinner at Gurgaon's only Goan restaurant. The highlight of the whole week of evening socialising though, was the dinner at Farzi Cafe. With molecular gastronomy expertly applied to Indian food and dishes like dal chawal arancini and molecular phirni, the restaurant impressed with both presentation and flavour.

Five days later, each of us had assembled the cake you see above. It was clearly the biggest food project I'd undertaken and it led straight to finals day. The theme of the finals day was haute couture and each of us were meant to use all we learnt to create a fashion inspired cake. I drew JJ Valaya, and I tried my best to replicate one of his wedding lehngas onto a cake. Didn't win in the end, but I won so many friends - not just the other seven contestants, but other folks (kitchenaid team, cake decorators, hotel management students) who volunteered to help during the week. All in all, one of the most fun weeks of my life. But doesn't that always happen where there's cake, and also in this case, tons of sugar!