The exact definition of what comprises great cuisine is elusive and that is how it should be because food, like art, lends itself to myriad interpretations. A single dish could have different connotations for different people so arriving at a consensus of what qualifies as outstanding cuisine is a task that is best left open-ended.
However, the one aspect that has found universal agreement from gourmands everywhere is that a great meal should instantly transport you to some place. It should be able to trigger memory and complete a sensory experience that every great meal ought to be. This is where chef Manish Mehrotra scores a bull’s eye, every time.
One of the most outstanding chefs the country has known, Manish has taken Indian cuisine and converted into a fantastic tale of unfathomable imagination where it is possible to have khichdi with pork sausages and foie gras is given a tandoori treatment. That is the reason why Indian Accent, the restaurant where Manish constantly stirs up his pots of inventiveness, is a restaurant like no other. A meal here is not just the simple act of eating well made food. It is about embarking on journeys, sometimes simultaneous, where entire worlds coalesce into something that is served on a plate.
“We started Indian Accent with an intention to bring a unique concept of inventive Indian cuisine,” says Manish. “During the initial stages, it was extremely challenging to reach out to people as it was not a regular palate Indian cuisine. It was not a traditional butter chicken and naan restaurant. It took us a long time and a lot of hard work.”
The perseverance has paid off because getting reservations at Indian Accent these days is something of an accomplishment. Guests book their tables weeks in advance to savour the many ways in which Manish mixes global ingredients, presents them in a non-traditional manner and yet always ensures that the taste remains uniquely Indian.
“It was actually a personal decision for me to become a chef,” says Manish, who is one of India’s most awarded chefs and has been inducted into The Order Of Escoffier Disciples. “I developed a keen interest in the kitchen while I was in Hospitality College and it really developed from there.”
His passion for culinary creativity and his boundless imagination took Indian Accent all the way up to the top of the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants when the restaurant was awarded the S. Pellegrino Best Restaurant in India award. But for all his accolades, Manish Mehrotra remains as grounded as he was when he first stepped into a kitchen many years ago.
“For us, each guest leaving happy from the restaurant is a reward,” he says. “We work harder and harder every day for it.”