It’s probably a good thing that I don’t live in Delhi.
If I did, it’s highly likely that I’d be dining out at Indian Accent more often than not, and this blog might permanently become an ode to Chef Manish Mehrotra’s inimitable brand of fusion Indian food…
As with my previous visit to the Delhi, the major highlight of my recent trip centred on one heck of an indulgent meal at this contemporary Indian restaurant, where the East meets West in a creative collision of vibrant flavours.
Housed in the Manor, a discreet boutique hotel in Delhi’s New Friend’s Colony, Indian Accent was recently featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015 (the only restaurant in India to make the cut), also winning ‘S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in India’ by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015.
With this level of hype, there’s always some risk that the reality won’t match up to the high expectations… and if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that there were a few dishes on our table that did fall a bit short this time round.
It was definitely a dinner of epic proportions.
We were a fairly large and ravenous bunch of foodies (we had opted the later seating) and so had no trouble at all ripping through the extensive veggie options, starting with an amuse bouche – a shot of sweetcorn shorba accompanied by naans oozing rich, blue cheese.
The marriage between Indian and western classics continued with a burrata papdi chaat – the soft, creaminess of the cheese complemented perfectly by the savoury crispness of the paapdi while a tomato chutney added a tangy punch!
Other Indian street eats to get a modern makeover included puchkas (hollow, wheat and semolina shells), which were served with “five waters” including a pomegranate juice, to supplement the usual jal jeera dressing.
The only vadas (a savoury, fritter-esque snack) I’ve come across in Bombay have been of the deep-fried variety packed with heaps of potatoes… Indian Accent’s version saw a creamy tofu and coriander filling with a kick of kafir lime gun powder. It was so good, that we polished them off in seconds (before I was able to get a picture in edgeways) and then called for another round, justifying it as our post-workout protein fix for the day. As you do.
Other favourites from the appetisers included the beetroot and peanut-butter tikkis – a moreish combination of sweet, earthy and nutty flavours, textured with crisp quinoa puffs and a light caper wasabi chutney.
And the ghee roast soy boti – this vegetarian take on the classic Parsi sali boti dish involved an all-too-hearty tomato-based curry (it was positively swimming in oodles of clarified butter), that we mopped up with the paper-thin, light-as-air roomali roti pancakes and the bevy of chutneys that arrived alongside.
The not-so-great included the smoked masala marwari papad. Although served charmingly in a mason jar, it was a tad too bland and could definitely have used a more generous dose of its lettuce potato cream dressing.
In other disappointments, we found that the underlying textures of the panko-crumbed bharwan mirch (green chilli) encasing a light goat cheese mousse, were a bit lost in its deep-fried state.
Appetites whet nonetheless, we swiftly moved onto the next course, cleansing our palates in between with a luscious pomegranate sorbet that featured a dash of churan – a khatta (sweet and sour) digestive powder adding a chatpatta note!
The best part undoubtedly though, was the innovative presentation in a mini pressure cooker – it succeeded in evoking a sense of homeliness in this quietly elegant dining room.
As for our mains, familiar Indian flavours continued to be heightened with quirky twists – starting with pillowy Indian breads stuffed in the most imaginative of ways. Think kulchas smoothly enveloping wild mushrooms (a drizzle of truffle oil on top for good measure); roast pumpkin and cheddar; and a very creamy combination of camembert and potato!
I loved the jodhpuri chur chur paratha too – a crumbly version of the Indian flat bread, served with a little jug of fresh pesto. I dipped mine in the dal moradabadi, which came with fried moong daal (yellow lentils) on top – a nostalgic reminder of my favourite tiffin-box snack during my childhood in Bombay!
Stuffed tandoori paneer was another winner, while my English friend, Antonia, loved the mild and subtle sweetness of the tadka vegetables tempered with baby spinach and roasted sesame salan.
If you’re getting hungry while reading this post, I apologise for what’s going to come next…
As, desserts were a pretty spectacular affair.
We clamoured for a taste of the walnut chocolate brownie layered with a boondi cheesecake (for the unfamiliar, boondi is a Rajasthani delicacy made with very sweet, fried chickpea flour!) and a sprinkling of salted chikki for a scrumptious crunch.
London withdrawal symptoms also had us plump for a warm treacle tart, albeit one which received an Indian accent with a delicious hint of doda burfi (best described as Indian fudge). Of course, we fought over the last bite.
And finally, a miniature version of a charpai (traditional Indian cot woven with a colourful criss-crossing of yarn) was brought to our table, with bite-sized treats that evoked another flood of childhood memories, from the chatpatta fatafats to dried mangoes.
It was a dinner that managed to excite yet comfort us… and left us wanting more. No surprise then, that I’m already planning my next visit to Delhi just to eat here again, or better yet – to New York, where Chef Manish is soon slated to launch an international outpost!
Indian Accent, The Manor, 77, Friends colony West, New Delhi, Delhi 110065