Friday, 23 December 2011

An Indian Accented Food Journey

Featured in the India Daily on 24th Dec 2011.

Our stay in Delhi was short and packed full with a rigid itinerary. Our only free day was the same day we arrived back in Delhi from Rishikesh, and I'd already had my eye on the hotel restaurant. It was partly why I wanted to stay at The Manor New Delhi Hotel. The Chef's Tasting Menu really caught my eye. Both the boy and I love trying new foods and we decided that we would eat once at this restaurant as a treat during our trip. So we would just go straight in for the Chef's tasting menu in order to try a selection of dishes here.

Tasting menu’s

I'd only tried a tasting menu once before, and it was at Fusion 5th Floor in Hong Kong which I visited earlier in the year. I was in heaven sampling the variety of dishes served in front of me. So naturally, I was just too excited for the next tasting menu experience.

There is a vegetarian and non-vegetarian option available at Indian Accent. The other half was straight in for the non-vegetarian having had a meat-free few days in Rishikesh and being the carnivore that he is, but I was tempted for the vegetarian option just so that we could try even more dishes. I didn't mind not having meat, but it was the number of dishes containing cheeses which put me off. I'm not a fan of cheese at all and I find a lot of people think that's kind of weird.

Time to taste

So first up – prior to being served anything from the tasting menu – some appetisers of blue cheese naan and this spoonful of wonders. The naan’s look delicious, but the smell of the stinky blue cheese was making me queezy. I still don't like cheese, but it doesn't mean I won't give it a go. Sorry, not for me but my cheese-lover boyfriend loved them. What delight is in store for us next? Oh, this lovely spoonful of amazing flavours. Oh my goodness. Crispy on the outside, with an explosion of wonderful flavours on the inside.

Mini blue cheese naan’s

Spoonful of yum


Excited by what we had just experienced, we couldn’t wait for the next mouthful from this tasting menu. The potato thread spheres were our first starter. These were so delicately light and crispy, the fresh flavours against the sweet worked so well. This was getting just a little exciting!

Potato thread spheres, white pea ragda, summer kaldi

I recall having pomelo with a soft shell crab dish in Pho 24, a Vietnamese restaurant I went to in Hong Kong. It's similar to grapefruit but less sour, more sweet. It's very light and fragrant. Why do I not eat this fruit more? Reminder to pop down to the Chinese supermarket and grab me some pomelo! Anyway, this tandoori chicken and pomelo dish was decent. Not my favourite, buy still tasty.

Tandoori chicken chaat, thai pomelo segments, crispy garlic

The waiters are so attentive. Quickly clearing our plates and keeping drinks topped up and explaining what was in each plate for us. At no point was the service intrusive.

Next up is a beautifully cooked piece of salmon with a really fresh and tasty dip. This was one of our favourites. The textures and flavours were just such a good combination. It was such a small dish and it would have been lovely to have had more. But we had to remember that this is a tasting menu and there are more dishes to come!

The foie gras was quite unusual. I haven’t had foie gras many times, but I recall trying this at Fusion 5th Floor. It was seared and just melted in my mouth with delicate flavours. At Indian Accent, it didn’t have the same effect. Still quite nice, and the chutney was a nice compliment. But I have to compare it with the better version.

Scottish salmon tikka, dill leaves,
garlic and mint aioli

Foie gras stuffed galawat,
strawberry green shilli chutney

Time for a palette cleanser before being served our mains…


The path of the main’s

This is where the plates get a bit bigger. There were two choices for the main, so of course, I ordered one and my boyfriend had the other.

Served in front of me is a plate of lightly battered fish, some mash and steamed asparagus. I’m told that the fish is John Dory from the Australian Seas. The meat is so succulent and tender. Falling apart with a touch of my knife and coated in a wonderful tomato pepper curry.

In front of the other half, is a dish named Chicken 65. I’ve never heard of this dish before, but it seems it is a popular dish in South India, and the origins of the name seem to be varied and uncertain. The crispy circular accompaniment was a nice addition. It added a bit of crunch to the dish and a dipping or scooping device for the chicken pieces or upma. Upma – what a strange name. To me anyway. Upma is a popular breakfast dish, but the upma served here seems like a more liquid version of the breakfast meal. Some new and unusual, but tasty flavours here. I’m definitely still preferring some of the earlier dishes that tantalised my tastebuds.

Pan seared John Dory,
tomato pepper curry,
new potato ‘chokha’ mash

Chicken 65, spiced upma,
marinated feta

Along with the mains, we have some black dairy dal, with some bacon kulcha. After trying dal a few times this year, I’ve decided that I’m not a massive fan. It’s such a popular dish, but there is something about it that is just not to my liking. I also found the bacon kulcha a bit odd – it was a bit like spiced pizza with dry cured meat. It’s a nice idea to be able to dip the kulcha in the dal, and as an accompaniment to the mains, but it really wasn’t my thing.

Black dairy dal

Apple wood smoked bacon kulcha

Any more?

DESSERTS. Oh my goodness, the desserts! Three little taste sensations on a piece of slate. I can’t say that they are my favourite dishes ever, but they were certainly interesting to try!

Chooran, anar and Cointreau kulfi
Fresh cherries
Baked coconut cheesecake

Let’s start with the spiced pomegranate ice lolly. Had it been simply a pomegranate and Cointreau ice lolly, I probably would have really enjoyed it, but it wouldn’t have made me think, “Ooh, what was that?!” or “Wow, what a combination!”. Kulfi is meant to be a dairy-based Indian ice cream. This really was like an ice lolly. No dairy. Anar is the Persian word for pomegranate. Whether it’s in fashion or something for food names to be presented with Persian words, or if pomegranates are generally known as ‘anar’ in India, I really do not know. But I love pomegranate, so tick that box. Cointreau I like, so another tick. Ok, so far, a pomegranate and Cointreau ice lolly. Sounds yummy. Only, I couldn’t taste the Cointreau and instead some quite strong spices which is the combination which really made me find this dish really interesting. The ‘chooran’ part of the dish eluded me. I wasn’t expecting it, nor did I know what it was at the time. I can see the bits of spce or powder in the kulfi, and I wasn’t sure if I was repulsed or intrigued. I was intrigued so took another bite. You have the freshness of the pomegranate, then a whole sensation of bitter, salty, and a whole manner of other things I don’t think I can quite describe. It was so fresh and then bizarre that I wanted more but really one of these kulfi’s was enough. I really didn’t need two. That became too much for me.

Ok, so then the so called cherries. They are the most grape-tasting cherries I’ve ever tasted. I’m pretty sure they weren’t cherries. They looked like grapes, and tasted like grapes. With some more of the chooran, or other spices of course. Again, interesting, but I’m not wanting anymore of this new and strange spice sensation.

Cheesecake. As I said, I’m not a lover of cheese but I’ll try. I usually despise cheesecakes so of course I’m dubious about this little piece with the whizz of sugar spirals placed on top of it. Wow. I love this cheesecake! Rich in taste and texture, creamy but not too cheesy. Maybe I like cheesecake after all?

Would I go back?

So, we most certainly enjoyed our meal here. Really interesting and wonderful flavours and textures. It wasn’t all to my taste, but I really enjoyed trying it all and we adored the food so much that we dined here on the remaining two nights stay. Yes, it was meant to be a one-night treat. We were on holiday – a few more treats is okay. Maybe.

Recommended dishes

These were my personal favourite dishes, some of which are on the tasting menu and others tried on the other nights we dined at Indian Accent.

Potato thread spheres, white pea ragda, summer kaldi
Scottish Salmon tikka, dill leaves, garlic mint aioli

Masala wild mushrooms, water chestnut, paper roast dosai
Peanut butter chicken, kasuri methi crisp, chai glass lachha salad

Baked cheesecake

Restaurant and Hotel details

I’d really recommend staying at The Manor Hotel. I was told that 4* star hotels would be more like 3* in the UK, but after searching around and reading reviews on this hotel I really liked it. I’d recommend it to anyone staying in Delhi. The staff are so attentive, the hotel is wonderful, and of course, the restaurant is great. The only thing to watch out for is the location. It’s in South Delhi, so it depends where you want to be based, but it’s away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi. It’s easy to get around on transport, and the hotel staff help to arrange taxi’s for the day if required.

The Manor New Delhi Hotel
Indian Accent Restaurant

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