Indian Accent: A Slice of Delhi in Mumbai
The one thing that I have always missed in Mumbai is a hearty and delicious North Indian meal.
For long, the food of India has personified soulfulness. The modern culinary space of India heightens this further—retaining the soul, but evolving the ideas. This modern space isn’t just about traditions—it is also equally about the whims of a chef, its creator. And just like that, from rustic yet soulful bowls, we have at hand highly artistic, non-conformist creations that showcase food from India the way it was never done before.
Chef Manish Mehrotra’s Indian Accent in Delhi, synonymous with Indian fine dining for the past 13-odd years, is one such institute. It is a destination where no patron ever questions whether Indian fare should be priced at par with global ones—in many cases, the dishes created here take more effort than the most complicated technical global counterparts. What, then, happens when you take an iconic brand like that, one that has been synonymous with Delhi—and replicate it in a new city—Mumbai, no less, for a new audience?
On my recent trip to Mumbai, I paid a visit to the newly launched Indian Accent at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre. The iconic restaurant’s flag post in Mumbai pays tribute to the Art Deco movement of the 1930s which is very visible in Mumbai’s architecture. There is an easy-going vibe to the place, compared to Delhi’s edgy one—a clear adaptation to Mumbai’s vibrant vibe. But, that’s what you get on the outside. Today, I’d specifically like to talk about the food that’s served here.
The one thing that I have always missed in Mumbai is a hearty and delicious North Indian meal. While the city is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, finding something as basic as a bold, creamy dal makhani can be a herculean task! Often it would be too sweet, or too creamy, or too redolent with spices that you wouldn’t be able to taste the actual flavours of the simple dal. But after all these years, at Indian Accent Mumbai, I tasted a dal makhani that one can write poetry about.
You’d be wondering why am I speaking of something as simple as a dal when the restaurant is all about progressive Indian cooking style. You see, it is often the simplest of flavours that are hard to master. While one may think that the signature of a restaurant like Indian Accent may be their classics like Blue Cheese Naan, duck shaami, wasabi raita or a pork bhuna taco, I feel it is their faithfulness to the Indian flavours and ensuring that with every bite that one can taste familiar flavours in a reimagined format.
Delhi’s Manish Mehrotra, an icon of his profession, and a venerable figure for the face of modernisation of Indian food, is the chef behind this venture, backed by Rohit Khattar of EHV International, a part of the Old World Hospitality Group.
Last winter, I met Chef Mehrotra at Indian Accent in Delhi for a quick chat. During our conversation, he mentioned the importance of being able to pass down knowledge and be a good teacher, so that an art form and skill is carried through for the generations to come. “Cooking is an art, and also a teaching. If you don’t pass on your knowledge to the next generation, that knowledge will be lost. That is what happened with Indian khaana in the olden times — a lot of ustads and kaarigars never passed their knowledge on to the next generation. Because of this, a lot of interesting and unique things are lost today,” he says.
True to his words, he honed Chef Rijul Gulati under him for eight years in Delhi, and today, Chef Gulati heads the kitchen of the new outpost in Mumbai. Together, Mehrotra and Gulati have crafted a menu that would suit the culinary likings of Mumbaikars with more seafood and vegetarian options, like gunpowder prawns, red rice, smoked chilli and raw mango curry, guchhi matar, asparagus, kashmiri morel pulao and burrata chaat, lotus root papdi, mustard tomato jam. Also not to be missed is the classic Daulat ki chaat, adapted by Indian Accent from the gullies of Old Delhi and now taking Mumbai by storm—or should we call it a sweet cloud?
It is, in fact, through this that I realised that in ways, Delhi’s contribution to India’s dine-out landscape at the moment is more emphatic than we realise. It is robust, everlasting, and is one that transfers the legacy of some of India’s best food ventures across cities and borders.
is a food writer who is known for her research-based articles through her blog ‘Delectable Reveries’