The Accent's On An Indian Summer For This Chef's Tasting Menu
Image Credit: Daulat ki Chaat at Indian Accent Delhi

IT IS NO SMALL FEAT to step out for a meal on a scorching May afternoon in Delhi. What on earth could make this torturous endeavour worth it? I found an answer at Indian Accent Delhi, after savouring the chef's 10-course summer tasting menu. Among the most reputed restaurants in India and across the globe, Indian Accent's relevance also stems from how it tweaks its menus seasonally. A rotating menu makes complete sense for a populace that loves food and is as enthused about the changing seasons and everything they portend.

The summer menu kicked off with a tiny Blue Cheese Naan. The idea behind the bite-sized start was to activate our taste buds so they'd be prepared for the array of flavours coming our way. Next was the Pumpkin Shorba, served in a slim, jet-black ceramic cup. It felt like a litmus test for our taste buds — to examine whether or not the preceding dish had indeed activated them. When we looked again at the tasting menu, we saw the meal hadn't even ‘officially’ begun.

The first course was ‘Chaats from the Streets of Delhi’ — a platter containing a fried sphere of potato, a dahi puchka, and a cylindrical hara bhara kebab. On the side was a pani puri tasting tray, the water ranging from mint, asafoetida and tamarind-flavoured, to buttermilk. Don't expect the mirch-masala from Chandni Chowk, but the first course serves its purpose — flavoursome pyrotechnics in your mouth. It's the perfect segue to the next course — a delectable paneer dish in fenugreek gravy, served in a cornett. Up next: travelling north from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh all the way to Kashmir for the Morel Musallam — a roasted morel served with parmesan papad, a mushroom-green chilli cream, and crushed roasted walnuts sprinkled all over.

The next few dishes took us all over the map, and not in the most linear of ways. For instance, Kanyakumari was our next stop after Kashmir, to sample a Tofu Medu Vada with a gunpowder sprinkle, sambar cream and pickled beetroot. Our palates were still reeling from the culture shock, when we were transported to Bihar. A cooked green jackfruit sat comfortably on a sattu roti with yam sauce drizzled across it. While we opted for the vegetarian tasting menu, non-vegetarians needn't fret. The paneer, morel musallam and jackfruit can be replaced with Kanyakumari crab in Thalassery pepper, sweet pickled pork spare ribs, and Bihari tash meat, respectively.

Chef Shantanu Mehrotra at Indian Accent Delhi, knows the local palate reasonably well. It appreciates diverse flavours, yet a good cleanser amid courses makes all the difference. Thus we were treated to a Phalsa-Churan Sorbet, served in an adorable miniature pressure cooker, which not only helped beat the heat within and around, but also warmed us up for the next culinary adventure. After the (welcome) onslaught of starters, the main course is mercifully served in a single go. Beetroot Chop and Pickled Eggplant in Mustard Coconut Curry (or Malai Chicken in Sarson ka Saag) is accompanied by dal makhani, kulcha and a cucumber wasabi raita.

As we linger over the mustard and wasabi, we're told the desserts are split into two courses. The first consists of Rabdi-Jalebi and Pistachio White Chocolate Gujiya. But don’t let your sweet tooth call it a night just yet: the last course offers another Chandni Chowk essential — Daulat ki Chaat — saffron and dry fruits added to whipped cream. Again, don't expect the greasiness or sweetness guaranteed in the bylanes of Delhi; Indian Accent’s is a fancier yet satisfying variation, as suggested by the fake Rs 500 notes it's served with. End the meal with another spruced-up version of a summer delight: Aamras-Puri. A mango cheesecake, fresh-cut mangoes, white chocolate and raspberry assembled on a plate, with two tiny cylindrical-shaped puris as the cherry on top — it’s a delightful sight indeed. 

Towards the end of our meal, we thought another palate cleanser wouldn’t be amiss. For the sake of courteousness, we asked the staff to bring around the same salted moong dal served with the paneer-fenugreek cornett at the start. To our surprise, however, the chef sent out just the right segue we needed to jump from one dessert to another — Kafir Lime Cashews. It says a lot about the attention to detail when the palate cleanser is as tastefully chosen as a 10-course menu.

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