Miracle Cuisine

A chef with ardent admiration for food has been spreading his magic in India and abroad. It’s his story.

A chef with ardent admiration for food has been spreading his magic in India and abroad. It’s his story.

It won’t be incorrect if we say chef Manish Mehrotra is the flagbearer of modern Indian cuisine, who managed to take it beyond curry and naan. He took the Indian food industry by storm with Indian Accent, a restaurant, where he redefined the fine dining experience, placing India on the global culinary map. His recent association with Nature’s Miracle has led to sumptuous dishes that are organic and entirely based on fresh fruits and veggetables. We chatted with Manish about his journey. Edited excerpts:

Your dishes look avant-garde, but are typically constructed on simple ingredients and elements. How do your champion humble produce in such a modern aesthetic?

Simple, fresh ingredients are always great to use to create a star recipe. It is a combination of these humble ingredients and modern plating which makes it a superstar dish.

What is the importance of constantly innovating the food you serve?

Innovation is crucial in the Indian food industry to keep the guests interested. They are constantly looking out for what’s next, and we as chefs keep pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone and challenge to do better.

From New Delhi to New York, we’ve seen you tweak your menu to accommodate local taste and cultures. What’s the reason behind this transition?

I don’t play with the authenticity of the food in India or New York. I use the same ingredients, but, some are not available in NY, so we don’t use those and keep the menu more seasonal. This is not the case in India as it is difficult to pin point seasons. However, even in India, we make the most out of seasonal produce. But, authenticity is never compromised.

At Nature’s Miracle, we celebrated the deliciousness of healthy fruits and vegetables, which are organic in nature. How often do you cook with organic products?

We have been using Natures Miracle products for a while now. It has just made my work so easy since the products taste delightful.

You have over 20 years of culinary experience, what’s the most challenging thing you had to do in your career?

A chef with ardent admiration for food has been spreading his magic in India and abroad. It’s his story.

The most challenging thing has been to curate the vegetarian menu when I was setting up my restaurant, Indian Accent. In India, we get lots of vegetables, but we mostly eat them as a side. Cottage cheese (paneer) would dominate the vegetarian main course and to make a hero vegetarian dish not using it was a challenge.

Indian Accent is an awe-inspiring place to dine and the only restaurant from India on the ‘World’s Top 100 Restaurant’ list. How do you feel about this achievement? Did you come across any impediments during your initial years?

Yes, initially there was a challenge as a lot of people said Indian Accent would be a mistake as we weren’t serving the usual butter chicken and the works. People would walk out in a bad mood as they didn’t get their papad, pyaaz, pickle, but slowly people understood what we are and started to enjoy the food and concept. We wanted to be different and that kept us on our toes.

What is your favourite cuisine, and if you could only have one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The dishes I eat depends on my mood. Mushroom risotto is a favourite along with dimsum. But if I have to eat something every day for the rest of my life, I won’t be able to pin it down. I like variety in my food choices.

What is your take on restaurant critics?

Critics are essential to the food industry. Thanks to social media, now everyone is a critic in their own means. There is always something to look forward to, I have no complaints.

What advice would you want to give to young chefs?

Please enter the kitchen when you have made up your mind. Don’t come in for six months and then leave.

What’s new in store for you on the gastronomy front this year?

I plan to invest my time more on Comorin, my latest restaurant in Gurgaon. I also plan to work on the menus for my restaurants and innovating theme based tasting menus as well.