It goes without saying that when we go on holiday, we like to eat, So dinner at the only restaurant in India to appear in the Top 100 was on my to do list for some time!
Chef: Manish Mehrotra
World Ranking: 30 in Asian Rankings, 90 Worldwide
Michelin Stars: Not applicable in India
Tasting menu’s have had a bit of a backlash lately but done right, I really like them, as someone who can never decide what I want to eat it is the perfect option. I like lots of small things or I just get bored.
There are a number of options, a standard a la carte menu plus two tasting menu’s one vegetarian, one everything-tarian (I made this up but I like it better than omnivore which sounds like a type of animal). There were quite a few dishes on the veggie menu that I was keen on but I couldn’t turn down the option of eating crab so we both went for the non-vegetarian option.
First up were some cocktails and a snack to start us off. We don’t drink cocktails very often but will give them a go once in a while. I had ‘Proper Copper’, a mug filled with a modified version of a Moscow Mule- Kaffir lime leaf infused vodka, honey, ginger and ginger ale. Jordan had ‘South Side’ a pale green concoction of gin, mint and cucumber.
We had some ideas of what to expect based upon the menu but there was a fair amount of guess work involved too. One of the things I like about tasting menus is that you can’t shy away from unfamiliar things, you are almost forced to discover them and more often than not, they are delicious.
We enjoyed our snacks and polished off our cocktails, whilst I keep claiming that I wont have a wine pairing, in this instance it was a really good priced option that included some local wines which we were unlikely to find elsewhere. Our first course arrived and we stared at it in wonder, taken out of context, it could easily look like a row of shots with some crisps on top- as if you had accidentally walked into a bar on Broad Street in Birmingham.
We were a bit confused, but it looked exciting. It turned out that these were puchkas, small, hollow crisp potato puffs for want of a better word. Underneath are little shots that you pour into the cavity before eating them in one bite.
We had: Coriander and mint, tamarind, pineapple and cumin, pomegranate and cinnamon and finally a garlic buttermilk one which was probably my favourite. We approached it with a touch of trepidation but actually, it was a really fun way to start a meal.
Crab with cauliflower followed which was topped with crisp noodle and tomato and garlic puree. I had expected to love the crab but I think I was still bowled over by the previous course, that is not to say it wasn’t excellent I just maybe should have waited before moving on to another course.
Duck followed, my photos of which are terrible. For a while I did try to take nice photos of my food but to be honest, I’d much rather just eat it. It did look a bit peculiar but it was a bit like duck kebab meat topped with chutney and served with a potato crisp. There is no denying that this was packed with flavour, I ended up licking the last buts up with my finger it was that tasty.
For the next dish, there were no airs and graces, I picked the lamb straight up because it just looked so inviting. The edges were crisp and charred but the centre still soft and pink. I know some people dont like eating meat off the bone but it just seemed right. Once again I was blown away by aubergine, it was smoky and rich, there is a depth of flavour that I’ve just never had from an aubergine before. It was topped with a sliver of smoked popadom which added a good textural contrast.
With a free cake for breakfast we had already started well but we then were offered a bonus dish too. After checking that we ate pork we were each brought a plate of utter magic. I like to imagine this kind of dish being something a chef just makes for fun. We had pork rib, topped with a sweet mango pickle,and kholrabi. Those crispy bits you see on top are little pops of crackling. Oh god. It was incredible. We were then told that if we would like to have more of any of the ‘starter’ dishes we were welcome to order them before we moved onto the main part of the menu. We declined partly out of British politeness but also because we didn’t want to get too full. Did we make the right choice? I’m still not sure to be honest, that pork was just brilliant.
A quick palate cleanser of pomegranate and churan (a digestive agent) kulfi whilst we looked through the restaurant cookbook (and subsequently purchased it) before we moved on to the main event.
The menu gave us two options for the main course, so we ordered one each. I had the fish, Jordan had the chicken and we swapped part way through. Mains were served alongside accompaniments of Dal, raita and some amazing bread. We had an applewood smoked bacon Kulcha and one that was topped with hoi sin duck. I thought the duck an odd choice with our menu options but in all fairness, it was served because its just so tasty. It doesn’t matter what you are eating, you should order this regardless.
My fish was more South Indian in style with a rich, lightly spiced coconut sauce, the fish was firm but broke easily and didn’t lose its flavour to the sauce. Fish curries are something I only ever order when I am out but I think its about time I tried to make one, maybe from the Indian Accent book!
The chicken tikka meatball was playful, I’m not sure why I found one giant ball on a plate comical but I did. That said it turned out to be a clever way of ensuring the moisture remained in the chicken and the sauce was mildly spiced, rich and unctuous. I often think the bit I like most about Indian food is dunking bits of bread into leftover sauce and to be honest, that’s exactly what I did here. As British people, all the menu just needed to say really was ‘Fancy Butter Chicken’ and I would have ordered it but this is kind of fun way of reinterpreting a dish that is so well known. We recently watched Final Table on Netflix and this was picked as India’s national dish. I wasn’t convinced with the choice but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is certainly an international favourite.
The accompaniments were a welcome inclusion too, dal is something I know I like but am not sure why I don’t eat it more often. We got a little pot each to go with the pomegranate and avocado raita. I like lots of little bits of food so this style of eating suits me very well. It certainly felt like this was a more substantial part of the menu so I was glad of the offer to take a little break before deserts.
On to sweet time. Another detour off our planned route but an excellent one. A swirl of dry ice revealed a birthday treat for Jordan adorned with some ‘money’ and flakes of almonds. It looked cool and I did my best to help eat it but it was a little on the large side and we didn’t want to miss out on our final courses.
Back to the more conventional side of things, our deserts came all together. I’d not paid that much attention to them on the menu as nothing jumped out at me as being especially exciting so I was surprised that actually, this was just what I needed. The custard apple cream was a new flavour with quite a dense texture that I hadn’t expected but it was quite satisfying to scoop it up onto the little biscuit. The treacle tart and the vanilla ice cream were unfussy, uncomplicated and comfortably familiar. After trying a host of new things, this was a really nice way to end the meal.
As we finished of our wine an exciting display of treats arrived but conscious of needing to leave for the airport very early in the morning we took them home to have as a mid-flight treat.
I am often aware that I tend to write about the ‘big’ extravagant meals that we have, the ones with wine flights and tasting menus and fancy plates but I am painfully aware that this isn’t an option for everyone (and that most of these places involve some form of travel too) This isn’t everyday food or an everyday expense but I write about them because the whole point of this blog is for me to remember things that are important to me. This meal is one I wont forget, it was the end of an exciting trip but more importantly, it was a celebration for Jordan’s birthday. I mention this because, in comparison to other places Indian Accent is incredibly good value (within the context). It is recognised in the Top 100 in the world, we had 7 courses plus snacks a bonus course and a birthday surprise plus sweets to take away.
The menu, based on the exchange rate today comes in at just over £40 per person. We had the standard wine paring to go with it which is the same cost and chose to buy the book as memento which was the same price. So, yes fine dining can be expensive but it isn’t all of the time.
Visitors to Delhi, you should go here. Simple.
The Lodhi, Lodhi Rd, CGO Complex, Pragati Vihar, New Delhi, Delhi 110003, India