Chef Kunal Kapur Brings Pincode Specials To Neuma In Mumbai

In the oasis of the SoBo restaurant – Neuma – the buzz was palpable as soon as one walked in. Chef Kunal Kapur appears engaged in a conversation with some diners about his brand new pop-up – where he decided to bring a slice of Delhi to Mumbai, on a plate. Aptly named Pincode to Plates, the menu that has been made available to diners since April 24 until the 28th, is the chef’s culinary journey reflecting through each detail. “Pop-up experiences offer a thrilling platform for both chefs and diners. They’re a culinary playground where we can push boundaries and experiment with flavour, presentation and texture,” Kunal says about his newest endeavour.

Dal Pakwan Bites

“Diners get a chance to explore innovative creations in a vibrant and intimate setting, while chefs have the freedom to showcase their artistry without limitations. It's a win-win for everyone who craves something truly exceptional,” he adds. As we wait for our Textures of Mushroom to arrive, Kunal elaborates that the entire idea behind the selection was to move away from typical Indian dishes that one is familiar with – think dal makhani, chicken tikka masala, Shahi paneer or butter chicken. Giving the Kashmiri morel mushrooms a ‘Neuma twist,’ chef Kunal admits to giving it a contemporary treatment.

Curry Momos Chicken

As the plate arrives, we spot delicious stuffed morels, served with the softest mushroom galouti paté and bites of tandoori wild mushrooms with porcini dust. The complexities of the umami notes were a great play-off of the familiar tandoori flavours of Mughlai cuisine. Similarly, the Dal Pakwan Bites – mini tarlets filled with the classic Sindhi-style dal, topped off with dill yoghurt and passionfruit gel was a familiar flavour presented in a way that was creative. Following this, a portion of Curry Momos arrived at the table – the chicken parcels nesting in a silky yet flavoursome curry sauce. The yellow curry, which was reminiscent of a laksa like mouthfeel enhanced the mellow notes of the momos.

Kerala Chicken Tenders (Top Left), Textures of Mushroom (Top Right)

Among some of the stand-out dishes – the Kerala Chicken Tenders served with a spicy sriracha aioli and the Saag Burrata came out tops. The crisp and juicy chicken is a great small plate to enjoy with a cold beer, whereas the combination of smoky and garlicky saag with the creamy burrata was something one would want to keep going back to. About the latter, Kunal mentions, “I'm from Delhi, and if you drive down an hour from the city to Monza, just next to Gurgaon, you will find these beautiful cheese farms where they’re making burrata. So even though burrata is an Italian cheese, for me, it (represents) that particular pincode which makes fantastic cheese.”

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Similarly, the Goan Chorizo sausages in a brown onion curry served with Goan poee bread was fiery and meaty – quite unmissable for carnivores. The vinegary punch from a classic chorizo translated wonderfully in a more artisanal form – balancing it with the fattiness from the meat. Speaking of navigating the speed bumps on the way while designing the menu for the Neuma pop-up, Kunal quips, “Every time we go to a new city, there are a couple of things I keep in mind – one, to keep the authenticity from our menu back home. What we do is what we need to present but also be sensitive to what people enjoy, in that part of the city. We’ve tried to keep the dishes on the menu is fresh, simple and honest. We’ve tried to narrate the story through the explanations about each and every dish and how it came about onto our menus.”

In the concluding phase of the meal as the Pincode Chenna Tiramisu is awaited, Kunal points out the complexity of Indian cuisine – not just in flavours, but all also in terms of cooking, because the sheer number of ingredients are so high. Hence, the possibilities of permutations and combinations and the dishes are so vast, that a lifetime will fall short for any chef to understand the Indian cuisine completely.” Remembering to always stay true to his roots and stick to the basics are key to Kunal’s cooking philosophy – something he says might change every couple of years in some way.

Pincode Chenna Tiramisu

“When one travels, learns a new concept and tries to incorporate it, over a period of time I now have more balance, more stability. My cooking has always been about fresh, seasonal food,” he adds in retrospective reference to the pop-up. The tiramisu plate – which came with tiny balls of the fluffiest chenna, a coffee ice cream and swirls of payesh cream was every bit as good to taste as it looked. Check out the pop-up that is currently underway by visiting Neuma for lunch and dinner.