Once upon a time, eating out was a simple choice between Chinese, Indian and Continental. Not anymore. Today, it is all about modern Indian and fusion cuisine, and molecular gastronomy. Chefs today are amping it up by mixing science with food and topping that with theatrical presentations in order to create a dramatic new experience.
Here are five such restaurants that serve food with a twist.
Indian Accent took the culinary world by storm when it opened in 2009. It put India on the global food map by getting featured as one of the world’s top restaurants. A pioneer in reinventing Indian cuisine, Chef Manish Mehrotra was the first to dish up appetising dishes such as Duck Khurchan Cornetto with Herb Yoghurt and Chilli Chutney, Blue Cheese Naan, Tuna Bhel Ceviche or Doda Burfi Treacle Tart or the famous Indian Accent Galawat with Strawberry Green Chilli Chutney.
Fresh local produce and ingredients are combined with global techniques to make these creations. While many other restaurants have followed in its footsteps, it stands apart in a class of its own, without a doubt. If you’re going for the first time, we suggest that you opt for the six course Chef’s Tasting Menu.
Where: The Manor, 77 Friends Colony; tel: 011-43235151
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when we say Bengali and Armenian cuisine? The obvious would be, ‘never the twain shall meet’. But Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, better known as Chef Saby, thought differently. Influenced by Armenians staying in Bengal, he and Chef Megha decided to introduce both at their restaurant and some of the dishes go back to his childhood. It’s fusion of a different kind.
The menu is divided into two parts – authentic Armenian dishes and Bengali dishes from the area that have an Armenian influence. We started the meal with Lamb Koobideh, melt-in-the-mouth lamb kebabs cooked on charcoal and served on soft naan-like lavaash. It looks like Seekh Kebab but tastes different. The Spiced Pied Pie was delicious Georgian bread loaded with Kalimpong cheese and egg. The Jurassic Cheese Lavash Pizza is a delight for cheese lovers with two kinds of Bengali cheeses – Bandel and Kalimpong.
My dream of eating Scotch Eggs was fulfilled when I saw Egg Devil on the menu; the soft-boiled egg coated with chicken mince was divine. Another must-have dish is Spicy chicken in Georgian nut sauce. Unlike any other restaurant, they are more than generous with their drinks – each cocktail is a stiff one containing 90ml alcohol.
Where: H-5/1 Ambawatta No 1, Kalkadass Marg; tel: 7827044055
Contemporary Indian cuisine was redefined by Chef Hemant Oberoi when Varq opened its doors at Taj Mahal hotel back in 2008. A touch of innovative techniques brings forth a unique and modern menu on which Varqi Crab remains one of the most popular dishes. In this super crisp creation, the crabmeat is sandwiched between filo sheets and topped with a prawn.
Haleem ke Kebab is served with a variety of kebabs while Martaban Meat arrives in a pickle jar since it is cooked with pickled spices. End the meal with Masala Tea Crème Brulee and Tille Wali Kulfi.
Where: Taj Mahal Hotel, No. 1, Mansingh Road; tel: 011-66566162
Imagine liquid nitrogen and dry ice on your food table. When this place became the talk of the town, we wondered what the fuss was all about – until we stepped inside and found that its experiments with molecular gastronomy lead to a different kind of food experience.
Here’s a sampler. Molecular Puchka Shots are accompanied with five different waters served in test tubes on a bed of dry ice, the potato stuffing sits in a mini pressure cooker and the chutneys are in a syringe. Yes, there’s an art to eating this.
In between your drinks, nibble on Dragon Smoked Popcorn which is ice-cold caramalized popcorn that also comes in flavours like Maggi and Pav Bhaji. The Air Bread – crisp, light, oozing with cheese and topped with achaari chicken and green chilli caviar – is definitely a winner. Topped with a bit of cheese, the Slow Cooked Makhmali Chicken tikka simply melts in the mouth. The Ghee Roast Keema Mattar is accompanied by four mini paranthas hanging from pegs.
If you want to see the drama that goes into the preparation of a dish, try Imitation of Ras Malai where the chef prepares it in front of you on a cold teppanyaki. Techniques like vacuum evaporation showcase the innovation in modern restaurants. Besides the food, the World War II themed microbrewery at this restaurant is a definite crowd-puller.
Where: SCO 53, 4th Floor, Sector 29, Gurgaon; tel: 8826677705
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Moleculeggn/
After delighting foodies in Gurgaon, Farzi Cafe finally opened doors in the heart of Delhi, in Connaught Place. Good news is that the menu is fatter and has changed for the better although a few popular dishes remain. Here, too, molecular gastronomic techniques add the 21st-century touch. We had Vodka with Mango Chutney foam, Santa Banta and Chai Pani (an ice-tea infused vodka cocktail served from a kettle in a typical chai glass). We also munched on good old Duck Samosa. The Delhi Belly Tikka with crunchy roasted apples is super soft and the most succulent pork I had bitten into with a lovely murraba glaze on top. You can hardly go wrong with cheese, so the Mac and Cheese Pakora Bites with spicy garlic sauce are tasty but truly dangerous for the waistline.
For the main course we went with Roasted Squash and Plantain Bla Bla Golden Crisp Dosai, Mutton Kuzhambhu, Madurai Podi Appam, Chorizo Pulao and Prawn Chettinad with Curry Leaf and Lemon Rice. Managing to keep some space for dessert, we tried the Milky Way Big Bang (that was prepared on our table). It represents the galaxy and brings you the nine planets made of flavoured chocolates and orange zest ice cream that are frozen in front of you using liquid nitrogen. They’re then smashed into pieces, served with white chocolate and rabri ganache. Chocoholics beware of the Chocolate Dirt Pile that comes laden with dry crumbs of a chocolate cake, pistachios and edible flowers with hot chocolate poured on top.
Where: E-38/39, First Floor, Rajiv Chowk, Connaught Place; tel: 9599889700, 011-43551028