World on the Capital’s Platter
With local restaurants reinventing old flavours and Michelin-starred chefs organising food pop-ups, Delhi is fast becoming an international gourmet destination
Catering to a myriad population, Delhi offers something for every palate. And as Delhiites continue to travel the world, the demand for new cuisines has increased exponentially. From modern Indian food to a plethora of Michelin-starred chefs making their way to the capital, gastronomy is being explored like never before.
One on hand, there are new restaurants that are reinventing old flavours, such as Chef Manish Mehrotra’s latest venture, Comorin. Diametrically opposite to Indian Accent in its style, Comorin recreates Indian tastes in a system of plates that’s gaining quite a bit of popularity worldwide, unlike the former which only serves a course-style menu. Chef Dheeraj Dagran, who cut his teeth in Mehrotra’s kitchens, is serving quintessential Indian dishes over plates meant to be shared, both small and large.
Opt for a Bread Pakora, which has bacon stuffed inside it, or go for the Keema Bhurji served straight from the streets of Punjab. The food is combined with a Sous Vide Bar that has concoctions such as vanilla flavoured Bourbon whiskey prepared in-house. But the most interesting trend to hit the culinary capital is chefs from western countries heading to India to swoon potential customers. Europe has been the centre of fine-dining for ages and the top choice for most vacationers.
But chefs are increasingly visiting Delhi and organising tasting sessions and meals to lure food lovers. Frenchman Claude Bosi, with his unique take on traditional French cuisine at his London Restaurant, Bibendum, decided to impress the Delhi audience with the use of local ingredients instead of the traditional French ones. At Indian Accent in Lodhi Hotel, he cooked up a mushroom custard laced with the famous curry powder along with a Kanyakumari crab that’s been made to taste just like the sea, served with an apple and lime jelly.
His menu also consisted of a River Sole a la Grenobloise (one dish that he remembers from his childhood as his mother used to cook it quite often), a lobster in pepper sauce and chicken with black lentils, coconut and coriander before ending with a delectable chocolate tart. Chef Miguel Barrera Barrachina, who came to India during the ‘Spanish Extravaganza’, organised by the Spanish Embassy at the Taj Mahal Hotel, served a Spanish Pork Panceta with Green Beans and a Green Olive cream, a dish that has seen many takers at his restaurant Cal Paradis in Castelló, Spain.
This was followed by Chef Daniel of Humm’s Eleven, Madison Park visiting Delhi in April. The American chef, whose New York eatery, has been one of the top restaurants all over the world, had Delhiites eating out of his palm. His menu at the Leela Palace consisted of some of his signatures—black and white cookies, Scallops with Caviar and even a Red Snapper with Celery Root and Black Truffle.
Although, most of these visiting chefs do pop-ups before heading back home, some decide to stay on. Chef Massimiliano Sperli, the new Italian Chef at Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, is one such example. He has redefined Italian flavours at Sorrento, which has become the de-facto hunting ground for Italian chefs as they battle to woo the Delhi audiences with different flavours of Italy.
Similarly, Kolkata-bred and born Gaggan Anand, known for his award-winning restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand, decided to embark on a four-city food tour in India, curating an elaborate 15-course menu titled ‘The Last Experience of Gaggan’, before shifting his shop to Fukoaka, Japan. Gaggan’s neighbour in Bangkok, the Suhring Twins have also impressed people with their homely flavours from Germany.
Their pop-up at the Taj Mahal Hotel had Delhiites dazzled with a quintessential German spread. the twins—Thomas and Mathias— who received the coveted Michelin star in their first year of opening the restaurant—Suhrig, served Obatzda Rolls (Bavarian Cheese Spread) along with a Lemonade Beer, proving that German cuisine is not just limited to potato salad, sausages and lager. There was also zucchini, smoked bell pepper, beetroot and herbed cream tartlet for the vegetarians and pickled sardine served in a bun to entice the meat-lovers.