• 20th July 2012 - By Indian Accent Restaurant

    Shantanu David, July 20, Expressindia.com

    Last year, when Mumbai-born chef Floyd Cardoz, who specialises in India-inspired food, won Bravo’s Top Chef, it was a harbinger of things to come. This year has been internationally hailed by food magazines as the year when Indian food comes to the forefront of global dining. From haute new fine-dining restaurants (New York-based Tulsi was one of the first Indianrestaurants in North America to be awarded a Michelin star recently) to the infusion of Indian ingredients such as turmeric and tamarind into Continental fare — India’s never been hotter.

    Vishal Atreya, Executive Sous Chef, at The Imperial in Delhi, explains, “Earlier, there was a lot of tweaking of steaks, soups and other dishes with Oriental flavours. So it’s a natural progression that led chefs to start playing with Indian flavours. Now, there is a huge trend to use cumin and coriander. We recently tried out an experimental dish in our banquet menus — a salmon steak roasted in a crust of crushed dhania seeds, served with a coffee and orange mousseline. The response was phenomenal, both among Indian and foreign guests.”

    Subroto Goswami, Executive Chef at Radisson Blu, Paschim Vihar, agrees. “Experimentation with Indian flavours in various cuisines is becoming prevalent because the strong and dominating flavours of Indian spices add a new twist and dimension to many dishes,” he says.

    The Tulsi restaurant, run by Chef Hemant Mathur who hails from from Jaipur, is heavily inspired by the tandoor — with menus featuring dishes such as Tandoori Wild Boar Chops and Tandoori Salmon. There are also interesting options such as Semolina-Crusted Curried Monkfish and Parmesan and Onion stuffed Kulchas. Closer home, Delhi restaurants such as Indian Accent in The Manor and Varq at Taj Mahal have their own fusion concoctions. The menu at Varq features Kale Channe ki Cappuccino (a soup) and Masala Vegetable Carpaccio, while Indian Accent offers choices such as Meetha Achar-infused Canadian Spare Ribs and Khandvi Ravioli.

    Chef Manish Mehrotra, Executive Chef at Indian Accent, says the changing mindset of consumers has led to the advent of Indian flavours in international fare. And vice-versa. “People are traveling more and seeing experimentation and fusion in other cuisines such as the Japanese or Vietnamese, and they want Indian food to be part of this as well. Television is flooded with food cocktails that people want to eat when they go out. Also, eating habits have changed in the past 10 years,” he says. “Earlier, people used to go to a restaurant on special occasions. Now, dining out is a matter of course and diners are much more adventurous. When we used the Gujarati khandvi instead of pasta sheets to make ravioli, people were surprised but eager to try it,” he adds.

    However, chefs warn that too much experimentation can make things go awry. As Atreya says, “There is a thin line between fusion and confusion. Indian flavours are really strong, and so, infusing Indian flavours into international food has to be exercised with great caution. There isn’t really a middle ground — you can either get a dish just right or completely wrong.”

    Indian Express July 20, 2012

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