Saturday, March 28, 2015

Finding my Indian Accent!

For the longest time I've been pretty bored of Indian food served in restaurants. I almost never eat Indian food when dining out, if given a choice. I like Indian food cooked at home, with subtlety and balance, delicacy and moderation. To top it, I've had this disdain for all things fusion, especially fusion food, for some reason (I mean noodle stuffed samosa anyone? Uggh!) 

Indian Accent has been in the news for long and I would always bump into Chef Manish Mehrotra at foodie events and embarrass myself by admitting sheepishly to still not having experienced first hand, what his food was all about.

I guess there is a time for everything. I had to grow into appreciating Indian food all over again after a long chilly, wintery, desert of detachment. We landed up at the oh-so-genteel 'The Manor' that houses Indian Accent in New Friends Colony after a few twists and turns along the route. But the moment you step into The Manor, you understand why the chain is called 'Old World Hospitality' after all. The place has the feel of a rather opulent house and for once you do not miss the overly polished environs of a five star hotel. It is so good to have these different and delectable options in dining today that are a class apart.

Chef Manish Mehrotra is so relaxed and warm, chatting us up with a natural charm. The restaurant is packed on a Sunday afternoon but I see him mingling with each and every table with an inherent savoir faire.

I decide to go for the Chef's non-veg tasting menu with fair chance of sampling some veg options too. If the mini-naans oozing with cheese are a preamble to this meal, I know it is going to be one helluva ride.

The starter is an exquisite cauliflower and saffron soup that arrives in dainty black stone cups. Never ever ever have I tasted cauliflower in such an ethereal form. I beginning to get butterflies in my stomach at what Manish is going to conjure further. And then it begins, platter after stunningly plated platter of stunning, simple, sumptuous and almost sensuous display of Indian food. Yup! Its all Indian, afterall, I find myself gulping and eating my words, at my illogical ignominy of Indian! 

Read on to know how Chef Mehrotra systemically smashed my ivory tower of ignorance of how Indian food can be reinterpretted so smartly:

We start with Potato Sphere Chaat White Pea Ragda, age-old chaat dish that looks like a golgappa stuffed with something, except the entire sphere is made of fine potato vermicelli, crunchy to the core and delicious.

Next up the Soft Shell Crab, Flame Roast Coconut, Tomato Pickle Chutney, presented in a modern rustic twist.

Duck Khurchan Cornetto, Golden Garlic Raita,Chilli Chutney is actually a dish one could expect to greet in Alice in Wonderland and that explains the bemused expression on the kiddo's face by now.

Beetroot and Peanut Butter Tikki, Caper Wasabi Chutney is like poetry on black canvas, popping with colour and vitality. Yeah its got those quinoa pearls too, splashed with pizzazz.

Prawn Pakoda, Lime Pickle Cream is a sublime example of being one and perfect and complete, a masterpiece indeed.

Khandvi Gnocchi is pretty innovative but by now I am trying to just taste the carbs (it's a lost battle I know but nevertheless!) Manish loves sprinkling crunchy junkfood we Indians love as garnish. I saw a lot of khakra, kurkure and moong dal mixture in places. 

Yes on the Dal Moradabadi with Jodhpuri Chur Chur Paratha too. Maybe it was not required here, because the dal is delicious on its own reminding me of my Naani and the Paratha definitely had an ounce of my Daadi's love.

Ghee Roast Mutton Boti, Rumali Roti Pancake, Trio of Chutneys is simply exquisitely presented, an Indian version of a classic Peking Duck serving, I thought it was brilliant presentation.

Fresh Pomegranate and Churan Kulfi Sorbet in a Pressure Cooker. I mean how cute is that!

Rice Crusted John Dory Moilee, Market Greens and Pinenut Poriyal in the main course is classic three times over.
Avocado and Pomegranate Raita is something I lick the last teeny weeny spoon of off the square bowl. This has been more than a square meal indeed, something that inspires no dinner at all.

But Chef Mehrotra's Indian Accent isn't done yet. The dessert platter has a Dhoda Pie that tastes as if the dhoda was created in interior Punjab to always be incased in a pie! I give up I give up I give up. Indian is not boring. Indian is not boring. Indian is not boring. I repeat about a hundred times as I finish the meal with the choicest churan ki golis and aam-papad served on a cot. A cot is what one can dream of after having such sumptuous fare. Kudos to Chef Manish Mehrotra. May the Indian Accent travel far and wide!

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