Indian Accent

The Lodhi Hotel, Lodhi Road, Delhi, 110003, India

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Indian Accent was forced to move in August 2017 to the Lodhi hotel in New Delhi, a victim of a controversial law change that banned alcohol licenses from restaurants and bars within 500m of a highway in India. The entrance in the new location is separate from the Lodhi itself, just around the corner from the main hotel entrance. The new premises are much smarter than the previous location in Friends Colony, here with marble floors and well-spaced tables with white tablecloths. There is a bar with wooden fretwork to one side of the room, and a little garden with a water feature visible from some of the tables. The chairs swivelled, reminding me of the famous scene in the movie Austin Powers, which doubtless was not the designer’s intent. Indian Accent has a sister restaurant in New York and from December 2017 there will be a branch in Mayfair in London.

There was a tasting menu at INR 3,500 (£40) and a full vegetarian tasting menu a fraction less at INR 3,400 (£39), as well as a quite large a la carte selection. We opted for a tasting menu. The kitchen tonight supervised by Shantanu Mehrotra, who has worked with owner Menish Mehrotra for almost two decades but despite the shared surname is no relation to him. 

The wine list had bottle such as Domaine Laroche Merlot de la Chevaliere 2015 at INR 5,000 (£58) compared to its UK retail price of £7, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 at INR 10,000 (£116) for a bottle that you can find in a UK high street for £23, and E. Guigal Tavel 2014 at INR 13,000 (£151) for a wine that will set you back £13 in the UK. India has a wine import duty of at least 152%, so is not a place where one can inexpensively indulge. As an alternative, Kingfisher Ultra beer was INR 475 (£5.52). 

The meal began with a signature dish, a miniature blue cheese naan. This sounds a weird idea but actually works very well. The bread was light and fluffy and the rich flavour of the cheese came through well (16/20). Cauliflower shorba (soup) came in a little earthenware cup and was terrific, creamy with lovely deep cauliflower flavour lifted by the spices in the soup (16/20). A spoon of chaat was also excellent, the various elements having distinct flavours, the mix of textures enjoyable (15/20). Miniature pani puris each came with a little shot glass of liquid, water flavoured with different elements that you pour into the puri and then consume in one bite. These included pineapple, pomegranate, tamarind and garlic (15/20). 

Next was a pair of little cornets, one containing paneer and the other methi chicken. The little cornet was topped with a miniature popadom, which was suitably crisp, and both fillings were excellent, the chicken tasting nicely of fenugreek, topped with crisp leaves of fenugreek (16/20). Soft shell crab was nicely cooked, entirely avoiding the greasiness that can so often afflict this dish, and came with roast almond podi and a little tomato chutney (16/20). Paneer was encased in panko crumbs and garnished with a chill sauce. The paneer was silky soft and beautifully cooked, nicely enhanced by the gentle bite of chill, served on discs of finely sliced radish (17/20). Kashmiri morel came stuffed with a mousse of the mushrooms with rich morel sauce and a little radish, garnished with a delicate Parmesan popadom. This was a classy bit of cooking, the morel having excellent flavour, while the Parmesan crisp could have come from a high end French kitchen (17/20). Tandoori bacon prawns with wasabi malai was excellent, the prawns tender and the combination of slightly smoky bacon flavour and touch of spice working well (16/20),

Baked fish was the only misstep of the night. The fish had interesting accompaniments in the form of Amritsari masala butter, mint boondi (a snack made from sweetened chickpea flour) and whitebait popadom, but the fish itself had a slightly soggy texture (barely 13/20). Pork spare ribs came with sun-dried mango and pickled kohlrabi. This was lovely, the pork tender and lightly spiced, the pickling juices of the kohlrabi balancing the richness of the meat (16/20).

Crab was flavoured with tamarind and served with coconut curry and beans foogath, a south Indian dish of French beans with coconut and curry leaves. This was lovely, the coconut flavour going really well with the delicate crab (16/20). Chettinad chicken keema came with curry leaf lemon seviyan, vermicelli pasta (usually seen in Indian food only with kulfi) and sago puffs. I am not normally a fan of minced chicken, but the vibrant spices here lifted the dish out of the ordinary, the little puffs and the pasta adding contrasting textures (16/20). 

There was a wide range of unusual breads on offer in addition to the traditional rotis, naans and parathas. Cauliflower paratha was very good, with grated cauliflower adding an interesting flavour to the bread, but essentially this was just a good paratha (14/20). Much better was applewood smoked bacon kulcha, a glorious creation of supple bread suffused with deep and delicious bacon flavour. This was simply wonderful (18/20).

For dessert, initially there was a ball of chocolate with hazelnut, which was rich and enjoyable though nothing remarkable (14/20) This was followed by a trio of little desserts served together: crab apple cream mousse, hazelnut and whisky ice cream and halwa crumble. The halwa was lovely, the crumble giving an enjoyable extra texture, and the ice cream was excellent. However for me the crab apple mousse was merely pleasant, and not in the same league as the other two elements, which were top notch (16/20 average).

Service was excellent. The bill came to £88 a head including more beer than a wise man would drink. This was a genuinely exciting meal, with vibrant flavours and unusual but interesting and successful flavour combinations. Indian Accent has really taken Indian cuisine to a new level of sophistication, and deserves the success it is enjoying.

Further reviews: 06th Mar 2014

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