Indian Accent Makes Its Mumbai Debut, Peek At The New Menu Here

After a lot of patient anticipation and longing looks, Indian Accent has finally made its way to Mumbai. It’s been 14 long years since Chef Manish Mehrotra met restaurateur Rohit Khatter in London, made the switch from pan-Asian cuisine and returned to India to change the face of Indian fine dining forever. Indian Accent has always had a very clearly defined goal – to showcase Indian ingredients and regional flavours with the finesse of international technique. And since they opened their doors in Delhi’s Friends Colony back in 2009, they’ve been on a mission to show the world that Indian food can do refined just as well as any other cuisine. 

Part of the reason they’ve been all around the world before coming back to roost in Bombay is that they were waiting for the right spot. “For many years we have been offered locations in Mumbai for Indian Accent. Our search has ended at the spectacular Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre,” says Rohit Khattar. And spectacular it is, with a high ceilinged walkway leading between two private dining rooms to the main dining area, inspired by the Art Deco architecture of the 1920s Jazz Age. The floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the Fountain Of Joy, which at night comes alive with a dance of colour and water. 

Chef Rijul Gulati has taken the reins in Mumbai, after 8 years at the Delhi outpost. The Mumbai menu has been tweaked to cater to the city’s diverse population with gluten-free, Jain and vegan menus and adjustments have been made to take advantage of their new geography, “Chef Rijul and I have taken care to craft a menu that features more seafood and many more vegetarian options,” says Chef Manish “recognizing the dining habits and seasonal produce of this great metropolis.”

The bar is headed by Varun Sharma, who leads the award-winning bars at EHV’s other restaurants, Comorin & Hosa, and he has conceived a menu that evokes the sensuality and mystique of the Jazz era. Meanwhile, Kevin Rodrigues is the Head Of Wines and has carefully curated a wine list to complement the menus from their international cellar.  

The Chefs tasting menu begins with an Indian Accent staple – a blue cheese kulcha with a shot of shorba served in a handmade Manipuri shot glass. It lives up to the high praise it gets with the tang of the blue cheese perfectly offsetting the rich shorba. Next is a collective of 4 dishes that pay homage to the street foods of India. The Chhole Bhature with Pickled Green Chilli and Dilli Papdi Chaat evoke North Indian comfort, and the Smoked Eggplant with Maple Plantain has an airness that elevates the simple ingredient. The standout this round though is undoubtedly the  Churan ka Karela with Rice Cracker, which has balanced out the bitterness with a punchy and heady mix of flavours. 

Chef Rijul returns to the table armed with a grater and fresh summer truffles to grate over the next dish. A Murgh Malai on a Gobhindobhoj and Mushroom Payesh with a parmesan crisp which toes the line between familiar and exotic. The savoury payesh is intensely rich and though in many situations, truffle plays the role of the overpowering gimmick, this dish can hold its own. 

The next dish is a Smoked Duck Shammi with Crispy Sevai And Barberry Chutney, which is dense and well offset by the sevai and sharp barberry. Here Chef Rijul is kind enough to add in a couple of their signature dishes from off the regular tasting menu. The Meetha Achaar Pork Ribs are all at once crispy, tender, sweet and deeply umami, definitely, a signature that lives up to the hype. He also sets down the Kanyakumari crab with XO balchao and Mirchi pao which is a nod to the Western coast with a sweet pile of crab meat and a vinegary masala oil meant to be mopped up with the oh-so-adorable mini paos.

Back on the tasting menu, we travel to the northeast with a pulled lamb dumpling in aab gosht curry on a bed of haak greens and topped with puffed black Assamese rice. Here the lamb is slow-cooked in milk which takes on a deep meaty flavour, and Chef Rijul reminds me to get a spoon of the broth in every bite

Before the main course arrives, you’re presented with a palate-cleansing Anar and Churan Kulfi Sorbet in a tiny pressure cooker which reminds us that even though we seem divided by differences of language, state, region or religion, every Indian can feel united by that pressure cooker lurking somewhere in their kitchen. 

The main course offers a choice between a Braised Pork Kofta, Punjabi Lobia and Bacon Chilli Glaze or a seafood stew with raw mango and smoked chilli curry. I opt for the seafood – we are in Bombay now after all – and am presented with a plate of perfectly crispy gunpowder-dusted prawns, a buttery soft scallop and a peppery pile of crab meat that each has their own talents to bring to this seafood party. The main course is also served with one of their signature Indian Accent kulchas Black Dairy Daal, and Wasabi and Kakdi Raita because as Chef Rijul says with a smile, “What Indian meal is complete without a bread?”

The courses are quickly catching up with me as and I find myself thinking about a nap as we move into the desserts, starting with a pre-dessert of delightful Mishti Doi Cannoli and Pista Ki Lauj inspired by an Italian Cassata. And then comes the Warm Doda Burfi Tart, another staple on the menu, which has the depth of a treacle treat with a spiced warmth that makes it distinctly desi. The final dish of the day is their showstopping daulat ki chaat, served in a haze of dry ice and with faux currency tucked behind it, it’s definitely a visual performance. And luckily the flavours match that exuberance with a delicate saffron hint that permeates the sweet cloud of whipped milk and cream.

India has seen more than enough ‘modern Indian’ takes over the years, and not all of them are successful, but Indian Accent has once again proved why they are considered among the upper echelons in international dining. With their menu in Mumbai, they’re showcasing a different side to familiar dishes, pushing on the boundaries just enough to bend them but not force them open for shock value. It’s subtle culinary craftsmanship at its best, and hopefully, once they’ve settled into their new home, we’ll see more dishes that reflect the rich history Mumbai has to offer.