It is a creative mind that can give shape to numerous possibilities. And when you dare to walk your own path with an urge to present something extraordinary, you inspire the whole world around you and how! Manish Mehrotra, Head Chef at Indian Accent, needs no introduction. Over the years he has won many praises and bagged several prestigious awards for his innovative representation of Indian cuisine. His concepts are path-breaking with immense attention to textures, flavours, and presentation, so much so that a meal at Indian Accent leaves you with a refreshing afterthought and somewhat inspired to step out of your own inhibitions and dare to explore the unknown.
It is least to say that I was eagerly looking forward to my rendezvous with Chef Mehrotra and dining at Indian Accent during my recent stay at the capital city. In fact, I had spoken about it to such an extent that my family and friends were convinced that it was my sole reason to visiting Delhi. In my defense I had read out names of dishes from their menu – Misti Doi Cannoli, Daulat Ki Chaat, Foie Gras Galouti Kebab, Khandvi Ravioli, Tandoori Bacon Prawns with Wasabi Malai Cream, Kashmiri Walnut Paneer, Dal Gosht – and had said, “Look at all these dishes! Such tempting creations!” And they had nodded in agreement.
Contemporary Indian cuisine, in recent times, has gained much speculation world over. But years back it was a different scenario. Chef Mehrotra recalls, “When it came to Indian food, the western world couldn’t think beyond tikka masalas, butter chicken and curries. It was disheartening to see that the world outside was so ignorant. We have such a diverse cuisine with each region having a range of dishes and to sum it up in just a word called ‘curry’ was indeed infuriating.”
While Chef started his career being trained as a Pan Asian Chef, he soon developed an urge to reintroduce Indian food in a manner that would appeal to International palates and with interesting concepts that would even make an Indian sit-up and wonder. Thus, Indian Accent was born after much research, trial and testing, to finally present Indian cuisine like never before.
The menu includes a range of dishes drawing inspiration from traditional recipes across the Indian continent such as Churan ka Karela (Banaras), Kashmiri Morel Musallum, Semolina Puchkas with Coriander Chickpea Tabbouleh (Kolkata), Khandvi Ravioli (Gujarat), Shredded Kolhapuri Chicken Salad (Maharashtra), Mutton Ghee Roast (Mangalore), to name a few.
During my visit to the restaurant, I opted for the much recommended Chef’s tasting menu to get an insight to chef’s culinary repertoire, while my family decided to explore from their winter a la carte menu.
My meal began with Potato Sphere Chaat with White Pea Ragda. Inspired by the famous street food of Mumbai, the chaat was beautifully presented with tiny spheres made of crisp shredded potatoes, placed on a bed of slow cooked white peas, coated with curd, tamarind and mint chutney for that sweet, tangy and spicy flavour. Next was Seared Prawns, Churan Ka Karela, Quinoa Puffs, and Bitter Melon Crisps. I loved the dramatic presentation and felt as though I was unraveling some treasure as I spooned into moist, juicy prawns coated with a sticky masala mix of bitter gourds. The bitterness was mellowed down with dominant cardamom notes and quinoa puffs.
The drama had just began! Then came to my table a cone placed in a tall glass filled with crisp moong dal, a favourite Indian munchy. This was called Duck Khurchan Cornetto. The cone was filled with chunks of tender duck roasted in masala and smeared with duck liver butter and chilli chutney. The Meetha Achar Chilean Spare Ribs that followed was an Indian take on the much-loved concept of caramalised pork ribs. The thick slab of the pork rib was juicy, soaking in the flavours of the sweet and spicy mango coating, was garnished with sun-dried mango and toasted kalonji seeds.
As palate cleanser, we were served Pomegranate and Churan Kulfi Sorbet that came in a rather adorable mini pressure cooker and was refreshing.
For mains, the Chicken Tikka Meatballs seemed tempting but I went ahead and ordered Rice Crusted John Dory Moilee, Market Greens and Pinenut Poriyal. Inspired by two famous concepts: the Keralan fish curry and the Tamilian stir-fry, the John Dory had a crisp coating, was placed on a bed of sauteed greens and pinenuts with a coconut milk based curry, and garnished with roe – absolutely flavoursome!
Now moving on to my adventurous family who decided to explore the a la carte menu, for starters they ordered the Shredded Kolhapuri Chicken Salad with Avocado Koshimbir. The dish brought together two Maharashtrian specialties, and I thought that the spiced chicken and the avocado salad complemented each other well by balancing the flavours. The Baked Fish with Amritsari Masala Butter had a crunchy masala coating and we enjoyed the white bait papad that came along with it though it could be overpowering for those who prefer less fishy.
For mains, the Kashmiri Walnut Paneer was delicate rolls of paneer filled with chunky walnut mix in a spicy tomato curry. The Dal Gosht was a nourishing lentil curry with crumb coated balls of minced meat and was served with crisps. The Keema Kaleji, a must for meat lovers, was minced chicken and tandoori foie gras coming together in a rich gravy. And we went a step ahead and had it with Bacon Kulchas!
For dessert, and as part of the Chef’s tasting menu, we were served Warm Doda Burfi Treacle Tart, Fresh Tandoori Figs in Desi Daaru Reduction, and Daulat ki Chaat. Before visiting the restaurant, I had heard much about their Daulat ki Chaat. Now I know why! It was a milky, foam-like mousse that easily melted in the mouth leaving you with a mouthful of roasted nuts. And so light that there was no guilt attached even post several helpings. The tart on the other hand was sinful with the dense filling of dodha, popularly known as the Indian fudge.
We are definitely going back to try more from their menu which is seasonally tweaked as per what’s available in the market. On an ending note, Indian Accent was recently ranked amongst Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants. All the more reason to head there for an extraordinary gastronomic experience!
The Manor, #77, Friends Colony, New Delhi; tel: 011 43235151