This culinary library has just got its stack of new flavours, and all are limited editions. With the turn of every page, the cushty zest of every preparation comes with a refreshing mix of ingenuity. The Masala Library has a lot to thank its Head Chef Saurabh Udinia for, as everything you taste from its recently introduced Chef’s Tasting Menu is a reflection of Udinia’s study of culinary sciences that prods you towards the understanding of progressive Indian food.
Nineteen dishes come packed in this table d’hôte menu that’s launched once every six months. It’s a cracking synthesis of imagination that borders on the outré. The same cannot be said about the poorly written menu card. Lack of structuring and wrongly placed linking words make it a laborious read. Listen carefully to what the server explains.
The first thing that arrives is an amuse bouche in the form of mock egg yolk inside an egg shell. It’s placed in a customised bird’s nest. The dish is made of mango and coconut jel water. It’s meant to be had as a shot.
With that you embark on an experience that resembles modern art but in food form. Take for example, the Deconstruction of Samosa, a dish that brings all ingredients of a samosa on a straight line of a crispy base. The Celery and Chicken Thukpa, Green Pea Noodle is another peculiar offering made with reverse gelification. The black Street Popadum is nothing like its street counterpart. Dusted with red chilly and served with cheese sauce, it’s a quick bite before the hearty Peppered Lamb with Appam shell is served.
The lamb is flavoured and tempered with Guntur chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds.
The Wild Mushroom Chai (actually a soup) is like a short theatre piece with all ingredients brought out to be readied before you. Dehydrated mushrooms serve as tea leaves, truffle oil crumbs represent sugar powder and mushroom consomme represents black tea. Mix it all together and voila! you have tea-like-soup served in feather-light translucent tea cups. “It’s all about the surprise factor here,” says Udinia. “You are compelled to use all sensory faculties to make the most of this experience.”
We didn’t care much for the Gilawat Kebab Shirmal, where the shirmal was baked using air bread technique and bread was made using batter instead of dough. The gooey texture with lack of flavouring made it ordinary and forgettable. But the dessert made up for it. The Ashen Kulfi stole the show. It’s banana leaf charcoal ash mixed with sweetened reduce milk served along with sesame ash and nuts.
A couple of hours is what it need to enjoy this meal. The process is suppose to be a slow one that makes you completely aware of what you’re eating. In that lies the fineness of the experience.