Our intrepid reviewer discovers an inventive approach to Indian cuisine at Albermarle Street newcomer, Indian Accent
As my friend and I share a knowing look over the brims of our tiny matte black cups of warm pumpkin and coconut shorba, two things go through my mind. Firstly, I could drink at least ten more of these soothing, creamy and delicately spiced soupçons. And, secondly, if this isn’t even the starter, then what else is in store for us?
Indian Accent first opened in New Delhi in 2009, with executive chef Manish Mehrotra pioneering its innovative – if not unorthodox – menu, which reinvents Indian dishes using techniques from various cuisines. For the past three years, it has been the only restaurant in India to have made it onto The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. In 2016, a second outpost launched in New York and Albemarle Street is now home to the third.
As we sip the last of our soupy shots and polish off the miniature melt-in-the-mouth blue cheese naans, my guest and I decide we must share each course. A pair of intensely earthy Kashmiri morel mushrooms is presented to us like squidgy mountains with tangy parmesan crisps balanced on the summits.
A trio of small but mighty mathri cones (flaky North Indian biscuits) are filled with smoked aubergine bharta, powerful methi chicken and aromatic duck khurchan – meaning ‘leftovers’ or ‘scrapes’ in Hindi. The cones are wrapped in what appears to be a typical Indian newspaper, but look a little closer and you’ll see the executive chef beneath the headlines.
For the mid-course, we go for the reputable soy keema. We’re told to stir the quail egg into the fragrant Bolognese-like mixture before dunking the dinky Portuguese buns. It’s hard to believe the dish is meat-free and within minutes we are wiping the bowl clean.
The ghee roast lamb with roomali roti pancakes dominates the main course. Another wonderfully interactive and shareable platter, it is clearly inspired by Peking duck pancakes. A thrilling spread of sauces and chutneys are laid out like paint pots – from syrupy garlic to sizzling green chilli. We also indulge in the black pudding and butter chicken kulchas: the warm flatbreads are slightly greasy and delightfully naughty.
The Sicilian-inspired mishit doi cannoli cuts through the richness of the meal perfectly. A satisfying crunch reveals a slightly tart, cool yoghurt filling that is – to our relief – incredibly light.
Mehrotra imaginatively combines global influences with Indian flavours to an exceptional standard throughout the menu, but I can’t deny that I would return just to taste the shorba and the naan once more – an arrangement that I find myself comparing to a holy communion of sorts. Safe to say, I’m devout.