A review of a wonderful lunch at The Indian Accent in New Delhi

We had planned a Sunday lunch at The Indian Accent as a birthday surprise for our daughter. We were looking for something innovative and Indian and this place came very highly recommended. They were in the middle of a move from their earlier location (at The Manor) to this one at The Lodhi when we tried to reach them and the reservation process did seem to go a bit awry initially. They were quite apologetic about that and we did manage to get that sorted after a few calls, emails, etc.

We arrived a bit early for our 12 noon reservation and we were made to feel very welcome by the staff at each touchpoint – the valet, the doorman, the front desk, the bar and every single member who passed us by. Coming in early gave us some time to walk around the well-designed restaurant, read their coffee-table books and just hang around – will strongly recommend browsing through their exceptionally designed recipe book.

We had read a lot of reviews of their food and menu and decided to go with their Chef’s sampling menu on the day. What followed for the next 3 hours was a delight to the eyes, the tastebuds and the olfactory senses.

img_6813-1The first item that we were served was a sample of Blue-cheese naan. This wasn’t on their menu and I reckoned that they were probably testing out something that may feature on their menu in the future. I consider blue-cheese to be somewhat of an acquired taste but they had managed to make that into an unexpectedly exceptional Indian naan. Bravo.

This was followed by a deconstructed aloo chaat. A foamy dish that when swallowed in one shot transported one to the road-sides of Old Delhi having the original dish. The dish itself was masterfully crafted with multiple colours (red, golden yellow, green and purple) tastefully laid out on a creamy foam bed.

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The first course on the sampling menu was an intriguing take on the Gol Gappa – micro puri’s with 5 waters, each progressively different from the previous, to be had in a specific sequence to savour the progression. With a closing kick of the coconut-wasabi water – atleast that’s what I think it was though my daughter disagrees.

The second course was a smoked papad rolled into a cornet and filled with a delicious peppery paneer gravy. With fried moong dal to chase each bite with. The soft filling superbly contrasted with the crunchiness of the cornet and the moong dal. Hmmm… now how did they think up of that!!

And then that was followed by even more inventive combo of beetroot, peanut butter in a goat-cheese raita. This was so exceptional that the two young, just-turned-13, don’t-care-too-much-about-beetroot, girls in our party could be seen eyeing the other plates around for more. Unsuccessfully, I should add.

 Most of us at the table were not big fans of mushroom – but that didn’t stop the fourth course of mushroom mussallum with a parmesan papad disappearing quicker than the time it took them to explain the dish. That is something that they take effort to do – explain each dish, what it contains and how to savour it. And they do an excellent job of that.

This was followed by a pallet cleanser – a very interesting kulfi of anar dipped in a churan sauce. The mild sweetness of the anar beautifully balanced by the punch of the churan – which sets you up for the main course to follow. And the way it was served, in a miniature pressure cooker, just seemed to enhance the intrigue of the dish.

For the main course there were two options and I, not being a big fan of the jackfruit, went with their tadka vegetables and roasted spinach in a roasted sesame salan. I loved the way their vegetables were sautéed, well enough to cook them but gentle enough to retain the colours and the crunchiness. And the sesame salan with roasted jeera was a perfect foil to the dish.

Kulcha’s (wild mushroom with a truffle oil drizzle & roast pumpkin and cheddar) with a traditional black dal and a completely unorthodox (and brilliant, I should add) water chestnut and wasabi raita followed. By now, we were 2 hours into an extremely enjoyable meal, nearly stuffed and feeling nice and mellow.

Then they hit us with their ‘old monk’ rum ball and 70% valrhona chocolate. Followed in succession with a trio of custard apple cream, carrot halwa crumble and an excellent fig and whiskey ice cream. With that, all thoughts of dinner and breakfast next day disappeared.

All through the meal we would have an attentive waiter hovering around us, discreetly, to ensure that everything was perfect. And we could sense that they took it personally if a dish was left only partially sampled. The Executive Chef, Shantanu came over a couple of times to check if we were enjoying our meal. Who does that these days, even my wife doesn’t!!

As if the meal was not surprising by itself, they had another one in store for us. We had informed them that the lunch was a b’day treat for the two girls. And they conjured up a Daulat ki Chaat with shaved pistachios on top as a birthday gift for them. It was served in a smoky dry ice bath that just made it look and feel magical. And of course, many of their staff walked over to wish the girls. Where did that mishti doi canoli on the table appear from when it wasn’t on their sampling menu? By now I had stopped wondering about these things and was solely focussed on enjoying their outstanding food.

Did I mention that they have an excellent selection of wines and perfectly pair them with each course? No, seem to have missed mentioning that in my exuberance. Even their post-meal digestive was served elegantly and interesting – anar dana, churan, aam papad and rose chikki.

Is there anything that they got wrong? Honestly, I can’t think of any (barring the reservation process that I wrote about in the opening para). Was this one of the most memorable dining experiences I have had? Absolutely. Was it worth the money? No questions about that. Would I recommend? If you have read this far, it is so damn obvious, isn’t it. Any tips? Make a reservation in advance, ensure that the last couple of meals you had were very light ones and ask for their lovely private dining glass room.

I am no food critic, have never really written about food and wouldn’t consider myself to be a foodie by any stretch of imagination. But if I could be inspired enough to write this review, there ought to be something the folks at Indian Accent are getting right.

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