Floor to ceiling glass panes, marigolds & twinkling diyas, wall murals adding just the right pop of colour and glimmer, art installations that make you want to linger in the waiting area even longer. And of course, food that makes your eyes go wide with each bite. In a little over two months, Indian Accent has effortlessly made the capital at home in its new home, The Lodhi. As the reservation wait list grows despite the increased covers, the continued tutelage of Corporate Chef Manish Mehrotra and India’s most successful and reserved (all puns intended) restaurateur Rohit Khattar, has ensured that the Indian Accent flag flies higher and higher over our splendid supper times within Indian and international shores.
Spiffing new space, familiar faces among the staff, and old & new dishes creating magic on your plate is not all that has the capital captivated. The new innings of the restaurant comes with a freshly minted element – Upstairs at Indian Accent. Taking cue from chef’s table, the floor above Indian Accent looks to host global chefs and forward-thinking menus by Chef Mehrotra. Starting off the year, they welcomed Chef Claude Bosi last week to take centerstage at the intimate dining space for 30. With the pop-up running for a month, the charming two Michelin starred chef brings his iconic French cooking to the table, with a twist of hyperlocal Indian produce. As Chef Bosi donned his whites, we made way to Upstairs at Indian Accent to bring to you the culinary craft and conversation with Chef Claude in this #DSSCExclusive.
As we took our spots to be won over for the evening (spoiler alert: yes, we were), we were greeted by the ever-affable service staff and an amuse bouche that promises to change your life – choux filled with goat cheese on a bed of fried moong dal. As the cheese gently bursts to fill your mouth the second you bite into the airy pastry, leaving behind the slightest hint of moong dal. With that salut to our supper in place, we ventured on to the first course, Mushroom Custard, Coconut and Curry. With finely chopped earthy mushrooms making the custard at the bottom, coconut foam in the middle, and a sprinkling of curry powder on top; the preparation brought together all three beautifully – bursting with flavour when had together as well as individually. While the curry added the spark to the humble custard, it was the coconut that had us going back for mouthfuls with its subtle binding together of the varied flavour profiles.
Closing in next was the Warm Beetroot Terrine, Feta Cheese and Passion Fruit. Whilst the burgundy and yellow on the plate were enchanting, the dish itself was not quite as vibrant. Clumsy to cut into, the terrine carried warm feta under the puff pastry, the saltiness of which seeped into the layers of beetroot. Albeit it missing the mark on our palate, the inclusion of the tart passion fruit as a great contrast warrants a shoutout. Following close was the Kanyakumari Crab, Apple and Nimbu Lemon for the carnivores and the Vegetable Dumpling With Toasted Rice for the green crew. The crab was tender as can be, melt in your mouth meat, prepped in a concoction of tart Granny Smith apples with the zesty nimbu. The acidic-yet-sweet taste of the apples paired perfectly with the humble Indian nimbu, packing in a winning punch for the palate. The dumpling on the other hand was insipid, with maximum contribution from the garnish – black sesame and toasted rice, and the taste from the dumpling and the carrot on the side being close to negligible. In fact, the inclusion of the Indian lemon, as beautifully seen in the crab dish, would have been the heroic saviour of this course.
Onto course number four, we welcomed the River Sole à la Grenobloise. The fish was a bite of fresh air, with the grenobloise sauce making the preparation a decadent indulgence. High on butter, the classic French sauce carried croutons and fish broth foam along with the typical lemon bits and parsley – make it your pick of comfort food for that generous use of butter. The vegetarians spooned up Kashmiri Morels and Kaffir Lime, a contender for the best dish off the menu. The earthy guchi mushrooms were not just tossed with kaffir lime, but with a surprise visit by the quintessential Indian choliya (green chickpea) too, making it a concoction that’ll turn even mushroom-shunners into fans. The clever application of kaffir lime in form of delicate caviar was standout. The last of the main course brought Roasted Chicken, Black Lentils, Coconut and Coriander and the Sweet Potato Nosotto, Pomelo. The generously glazed roast chicken with reduction-esque sauces of coconut, coriander, kaali daal was the ideal marriage of Indian and French cuisines, bringing together the comfort foods from both into a single spectacular preparation. Special mention to the meat, succulent through the top to bottom. The latter was just as delightful; the al dente sweet potato was beautifully complemented by the subtle bitterness of the pomelo, cutting the richness of the dish with it’s fresh pearls.
Inching closer to the finishing line (reluctantly so), we were presented with the pre-dessert, Mango and Black Sesame. An alphonso coulis with a base of crunchy/nutty black sesame paste and topped by black sesame shards, it calls out to all mango lovers. The sweetest of mango flavour (in peak winter at that) was complimented well by the smoky effect brought on by the sesame, while the spread was a unanimous winner, we called a tie on our love for the shards. Up next was dessert nombre un, Chocolate Tart, Vanilla Ice Cream, best described with the help of Tolstoy, “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth” – as the tart was a testimony to the entirety of this statement. A molten centre of chocolate which kept on giving, with cold vanilla reigning on top, Chef Bosi mastered the everyday pairing impeccably marrying butter and salt with the pastry case, reiterating his belief of doing what you do best, even if it is the simple things. For dessert nombre deux, we picked up the forks one last time for Szechuan Pepper Parfait, Pineapple. While the parfait was airy and not overtly sweet, the Szechuan pepper went undetected. However, the to-be-cracked-with-aplomb dessert ball was laid on expertly spiced pineapple – finely chopped bits cooked in the furit’s own juice, gathering a nod for itself.
Paired with this menu that was a great integration of technique and local ingredient was a showcasing of wine selection. From the Villa Maria ‘Private Bin’ Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough to Leeuwin Estate ‘Prelude Vineyards’ Chardonnay, the juice of the gods was elevated with a fantastic conversation with the Michelin starred chef manning the pass tonight.
A staunch believer of ‘ingredient is king’, Chef Claude kept the theme going for his pop-up too, “You’ve got such great ingredients. Some of the produce and techniques are unbelievable! It’s important for Indian chefs to show what India’s about and not try to please customers who have a different palate,” he shares when asked what holds back Indian produce from garnering the prominence it deserves. He adds, “Take the risk, keep it original. You can’t change your cuisine to please people, you may lose some customers but you’ll gain some too – at least you’re honest with yourself.” With basics always forming the foundation of his craft, the chef tells us why he steers clears of food trends, “Each trend has some good technique, good flavour, some interesting thing…you have to pick what’s right for you, but don’t go away from your personality. Trends are important as they can help you move forward, but also very dangerous as you may lose your identity and longevity.” Head to his supper and you’ll see this intelligent takeaway process from trends being bravely shunned one dish after the next.
Chef Claude Bosi pop-up at Upstairs at Indian Accent is on till February 10. Reserve your spot at 011-66175151, 9871117968.
Head here: Indian Accent, The Lodhi, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
Lose wallet weight: INR 3,000+ for lunch and dinner, INR 2,000+ for paired wines.
Featured Image Courtesy: standard.co.uk