Travel

Who Wants Curry When There's Indian Accent…

The night air’s soft and balmy. People lurk near squat fountains, bathing in the mist as if to dissipate the heat of the summer evening, people watch other people and a sudden bit of quiet descends upon us in the midst of the surrounding skyscrapers. Are you with me? Then here is the conundrum. Can an oasis of green and tranquility sit within the chaos of Manhattan? Here lies Bryant Park, a heartbeat away from Times Square.

Then, Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center, a vintage dream woven with cupcakes, puff pastries, brownies and blondies, cookies and macarons. All American-style. Slobbering and giving into temptation with four measly cupcakes when a whole world of goodies wink at you. Oh heart, clad in an iron armour, to not melt in the face of such luscious beauty.

But maybe you have had your fill for the day because why you have just tripped out of Indian Accent, that fine-dining modern Indian restaurant sitting on 56th Street.

Food memories. The dishes you have had growing up have been put on the menu by a renowned chef. His modern take on them is calculated to baffle the senses. Works.

The concept is degustation. Tasting menu. You eat a bit of everything. My usual grievance of not possessing four stomachs is taken care of. One stomach will do just fine.

Every dish, in the four-course menu I opt for, tastes different. Indian dishes do often run the danger of tasting somewhat the same. Adi goes for a three-course menu, so between the two of us, we have a plethora of tastes to sample.

The well-felt pinch on the pocket is redeemed by two dishes on the house. Miniature discs of naan that you pop into the mouth. Chew and a warm molten centre of Danish blue cheese is released into the mouth, piquant and sharp. And before you can crave more, pumpkin soup in a mini mug. Moreish.

It is difficult to choose from the line-up of dishes. Everything’s familiar yet there are unfamiliar pairings which stoke the taste buds and the imagination. The soya keema – that was often a constant on the table at home when I would throw a fit at the daily diet of fish – arrives in a small, deep pan topped with quail eggs. Oh, the taste of childhood all over again, but teamed with a mouthful of butter-slathered fresh mini paos (buns) that are redolent of lime leaves.

Nuggets of cauliflower? Did we order cauliflower?! Ahem. The dismay of the non-vegetarian. But then the realisation as you dig into them that they are crab claws slathered in the time-tested winning combination of butter, pepper and garlic.

Oh let’s not think any more.

After a long drawn affair involving smacking sounds and sighs of pleasure, the final stroke of goodness. A magical affair with a candle sticking on top to celebrate Adi’s birthday.

It looks like cake, but it is not cake, my darlings. Oh no. This is a token of a closely-guarded secret from the narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, where the narrow lanes are upholstered with shops selling silver, spices, antiques, sweets and fried food diverse enough to leave the food lover in a tizzy. This is where you want more than four stomachs, my friend. But to return to the frothy matter at hand, it is called Daulat ki Chaat. An ethereal concoction of milk, saffron, sugar and nuts that disappears into the mouth, offering you a glimpse of paradise. Light and airy.

This is how we sail out of Indian Accent – floating on a cloud of heavenly saffron and potent Belgian ale – you could go with wine. Know this that we had already been drinking beer the entire evening and a few glasses of wine would have sent us into the arms of deep sleep. Plus who wants to have just arrived in NYC and already kickstart the process of getting thrown out of restaurants, you know. All in good time.

 

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Blue cheese naans, the signature dish of Indian Accent.
2017-07-03 12.00.22 1.jpg
Pumpkin soup. You can see that I had drained off a fair bit of it before I took a shot. Patience is not often a strong suit of mine.
2017-07-03 12.00.21 1.jpg
A trio of traditional dishes – smoked aubergine, duck khurchan and chicken khurchan – stuffed into flaky biscuits. Khurchan is basically scrapings off the bottom of a dish. In this case, well-cooked, crisp lashes of meat.
2017-07-03 12.00.20 1.jpg
Crab claws in butter, garlic and pepper. Not cauliflower. 
2017-07-03 12.00.18 2.jpg
Chicken kofta (meatball) with pakora in the shape of an onion ring and greens.
2017-07-03 12.00.19 1.jpg
Pathar beef kebab and bone-marrow nihari. Pathar kebabs are a speciality of the southern state of Hyderabad in India. Marinated meat is cooked over pathar or stone while nihari is slow-cooked meat (usually beef or lamb) presented along with the bone marrow.
2017-07-03 12.00.18 1.jpg
Soya keema (minced) topped with quail eggs and lime-leaf flavoured pao.
2017-07-03 12.00.17 1.jpg
Butter chicken-stuffed naan. Guaranteed streak of delight.
2017-07-03 12.00.15 1.jpg
Ghee roast lamb and roomali roti pancakes. Roomal is Hindi for handkerchief, so these breads or rotis are as thin as handkerchiefs.
2017-07-03 12.00.14 1.jpg
Dal makhni (creamy black lentils) chaperoned by garlic & butter naan. 
2017-07-03 12.00.12 1.jpg
Adi and his unusual birthday non-cake. A dewy cloud of milk flavoured with saffron, rose petal jaggery brittle and almonds.
2017-07-03 12.00.09 2.jpg
Neon-lit streets of Manhattan.
2017-07-02 11.23.42 1.jpg
Scandalous graffiti
2017-07-02 11.23.49 1.jpg
Bryant Park
2017-07-02 11.23.43 1.jpg
Steel-and-glass glory of 7 Bryant Park, in rainbow hues.
2017-07-02 11.23.56 1.jpg
There’s always space for more dessert. Magnolia Bakery.
2017-07-02 11.23.55 1.jpg
American vintage bakeries and cupcakes

 

2017-07-02 11.23.40 1.jpg
The top right-hand side cupcake got a bit squished, but hey, what is beauty without a flaw? They were good, bordering on the sweeter side of it, but the lemon blueberry cupcake on the top left-hand side stole the show (whispers: Hummingbird Bakery might still win the cupcake war, but I am not taking on a New Yorker yet).
Processed with VSCO with b5 preset
Ending the night on a ‘Sex and the City’ note. Carrie and Miranda. Love lives and cupcakes. Shut your eyes and take both.

120 Comments

Hit me up, buttercup

%d bloggers like this: