firangi by looks, desi by heart
If Indian Accent (the restaurant) was a man, he’d be a classy, tasteful gentleman; someone who is deeply admired and is well aware of his status. Yet he wears humility on his sleeves. Dressed suavely, his style is sophisticated; he is well travelled and has embraced all the wisdom of the world. He has mastered various languages of the world but speaks about them in pure ‘Indian accent’. That’s what the restaurant is: inspired by the best of West yet desi at heart and soul.
Located in a boutique hotel (The Manor) in Delhi’s leafy Friends Colony, Indian Accent feels miles away from the surrounding city’s bustle. The venue’s Indian-infused zen-like décor with undertone exteriors are well complemented with the understated décor of the restaurant. A passage leads you to the dining room – a no frills room – with limited seating. That is to say, there is a palpable Indianness in the ambiance which is quite inviting nonetheless, tall ‘Samai’ (Oil lamp), a touch of traditional velvet upholstery infused with spic –white table linen, fresh marigold flowers teamed up with modern lighting does create just the right kind of fine dining magic. Overlooking the cool veranda and the lush lawn, the restaurant also has a private dining room and a bar. The menu, designed by Chef Manish Mehrotra, bemuses you with unique names of the dishes. Presenting his take on the world cuisine is the fare at Indian Accent.
CHEF MANISH MEHROTRA
Celebrated and critically acclaimed Chef Manish Mehrotra calls his cooking style ‘inventive Indian’ and ‘Indian food with an international accent’ or the other way around. He was awarded the Best Chef in India by American Express and has also been called the most exciting modern Indian chef in the world today. A true innovator, Chef Manish Mehrotra has been instrumental in placing Indian Accent on the global culinary map. While he is touted as a champion for this cuisine, he says it’s food, flavour and taste that are the true heroes. He has designed Indian Accent’s path-breaking contemporary Indian menu combining fresh seasonal produce and unusual ingredients from across the world to excite the adventurous, yet satisfy traditional tastes and evoke nostalgia.
Taking the culinary journey at Indian Accent a step forward, Chef Manish launched the Indian Accent Chef’s Table, a show kitchen where guests can learn more about his showmanship through his ardent storytelling. They also have on offer a six course Chef Tasting menu where each course is paired with a selection of wines from India and across the world, offers the complete dining experience of the restaurant.
Chef Manish displayed a brilliant stroke of creativity by creating a unique amalgamation of the freshest local produce and combining traditional tastes with novel ingredients from across the world. This is our attempt at proposing Indian food for the twenty first century – a unique marriage of global ingredients and techniques with the flavours and traditions of India.
Every dish on the menu; everything from the nomenclature to the style of presentation comes as a surprise, making you eagerly await the next dish. The chef’s use of the most basic and authentic Indian ingredients such as jackfruit, bitter gourd and eggplant, as well as his creative plating make dining here a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
As we sat down and were taking in the simplistic décor and contemplating over what to order from this tempting menu, a platter of five miniature naans oozing with blue cheese and coconut drizzle was presented to us. It had never occurred to me that blue cheese would go so well with Indian breads, but the pairing was flawless. It was flavourful and a nice way to start the meal. Just a word of caution, blue cheese is a strong cheese and not everyone can develop a liking for its resilient, slightly bitter taste.
As soon as the plates were cleared we were presented with a hand moulded tiny black mug filled with sweet corn soup. This was creamy and delicious with a hint of garam masala. The balanced flavours and slight heat was perfect to warm us up. I could have been served an entire bowl of that soup for my meal and been perfectly happy.
Panko crusted bharwan mirch
A plum green chilli stuffed with goat cheese mousse, panko crusted and deep fried, served with a drizzle of chilli aam papad chutney. The crispy coating on the chilli combined with the salty gooey goat cheese mousse oozing out of it, combined with the sweet and chilli aam papad chutney was a delicious start to the meal. Their portion consists of four of these delicious peppers, but because it was five of us at the table, they were sweet enough to serve an extra portion.
Ghee roast soya boti
A platter beautifully laid with a bowl of ghee roasted soya chunks, miniature roomali roti pancakes and four different types of chutney was presented before us. The soya prepared in thick gravy was delicious and packed with flavours, served along in a miniscule dimsum steam basket were five roomali pancakes, yet again they were gracious enough to get us another basket so that we all can nibble at the same. The pancakes were warm and soft and were the perfect accompaniment coupled with four different chutneys served in tea glasses, hoisin, spicy green chilli, mint chutney and garlic and black pepper.
Baked amritsari fish
Two beautiful fillets of baked fish marinated in amritsari masala butter and topped with white bait papad crush. The dish by the look of it had an absolute International appeal and the basa fillet was delicious. The fish was baked to perfection and was so moist juicy and flaky that it practically melted away in my mouth and the gorgeous amristsari masala butter gave it such an enthralling buttery kick and the crust of the crushed white bait just took it to another level. I can safely say it was the best I have had in a very long time.
To cleanse our palate, after the starters and to prepare us for the upcoming mains, a popsicle of pomegranate and churan was presented to us in mini pressure cookers. This was sweet with a little fizz. The initial few slurps were delicious with the sweetness of the pomegranate and the quirky flavour of the churan, but thereafter it became way too sweet and monogamous in taste. But yes it was so cute to look at the icy cool texture did help us cleanse our palate.
Chowpatty in a bowl
Tempered ricotta vada, pao bhaji, kaffir lime buttered pao. Standing true to its name it actually was chowpatty in a bowl, with slightly sweet and mild pao bhaji, topped with tempered ricotta vada and sev to add crunch and texture to this otherwise mild dish, served along with these ultra-cute mini paos brushed with kaffir lime butter on skewers. Again a helping of extra paos were instructed or our table.
Three different types of breads along with a helping of their dal, served as a side was next. We had wild mushroom kulcha with truffle oil drizzle (the name says it all…a delicious delicacy especially for mushroom lovers), jodhpuri chur chur paratha with fresh pesto (crispy and really flaky paratha with a helping of the most delicious and fresh basil pesto was just scrumptious and went remarkably well with the side of their dal moradabadi) and applewood smoked bacon kulcha (again a sweet and savoury stuffing with the smokiness of the bacon was a delicious and different bread I tasted).
Hajid Ali custard apple cream
Served in a glass bowl, was this smooth, creamy goodness with tiny chunks of custard apple. Now this is a dessert you don’t get to eat that often and boy were we glad to order it. The Mumbai inspired dessert had perfectly balanced flavour, it had the right amount of sweetness and the natural flavour of the custard was bang on and the smooth, silky dessert coated with palate perfectly.
Besan laddoo tart
Yet again a unique and delicious fusion wherein besan laddoo formed the crumbly semi sweet tart and was filled with mithai cheesecake, which was sweet, silky and of the right consistency, served along with fresh fruits which added the much needed freshness and cut the sweetness of the overall dessert to strike perfect balance was a treat to the eyes as well as the palate.
Old monk rum ball
What a rum ball, what intensity of taste, robust, flavors of chocolate , perfect texture within, perfect balance of sweet & bitter & an amazing liquid chocolate. Needless to say Old Monk made its presence felt in every bite. Flambed right in front of us, the outer coating melted away gradually giving way to the gooey sticky centre of sheer chocolate indulgence, and mind you, its 70% valrhona.
Daulat ki chaat
The staff was so generous, since they came to know we were there for a celebration, they presented us this dessert as complimentary from their side. Due to demonetization strike, they replaced their 100 rupees notes with 500 ones, also to add a punch of humour to the entire situation, which even caught the eye of a couple sitting next to our table, and just a simple gesture from their end resulted in a laugh around the room. Presented dramatically with smoke emitting from the bottom of the container, a light, frothy and butter daulat ki chaat was offered to us. It was decent in taste, thought the texture was right.
As we waited for the bill to come, there came another surprise. Charpoy of childhood memories – fatafat, aam papad, ram laddoo /imli goli, rose petal chikki placed in small bowls atop a miniature charpoy. While the tastes of each of these items were as good as it cud get, the joy was the way it was served & the also the tickling of memories. That whole experience & the conversations it sprung up was just beyond rating.
The staff dressed in Indian attire are well trained, knowledgeable, friendly and courteous. The humble chef de cuisine Shantanu Mehrothra did personally check with us if we were enjoying our meal. These little gestures and the sheer promptness with which we were attended through the afternoon was noteworthy.
We witnessed so much art in the food- like a masterpiece. It was rich in flavours, art and imagination. It was pure, everyday art. Total salute to Chef’s creations. The food at Indian Accent is extraordinary, not because it requires some outlandish culinary techniques or exotic ingredients, but because it brings out simple preparations from an Indian kitchen and puts them straight under the limelight.
It’s said that a successful meal is supposed to rekindle a memory. Our grand luncheon at Indian Accent revived many.