Dishing it out with Manish Mehrotra
Dishing it out with Manish Mehrotra

The chef’s New Delhi restaurant, Indian Accent is the only Indian restaurant on the prestigious World’s Best list.

Congratulations on being named among the world’s top restaurants. What do you think clinched a spot for Indian Accent?


When we started doing what we do, over six years ago, it was different, and something that wasn’t happening at that time. Now, a lot more people are doing it. Most importantly, we were different not for the sake of it, but because we offered good quality too. It’s not only about the food, service or ambience, but the complete experience that we offer.


What are other Indian restaurants lacking in this regard?


Other restaurants in India are also doing a lot of things right, but it’s important to do them in a way that no one else is. So if Moti Mahal serves Butter Chicken, it doesn’t mean you should as well. But if you must, do it better. There are so many things in people’s houses in rural areas that are worthy of being on restaurant menus. Try and find those secrets and recipes, and put them in the limelight. Six years back, we were the first restaurant to put a khichdi on the menu. Now, every place – big or small – offers it, albeit with a twist. We put karela on our menu as well, and played around with the way dishes are presented. People’s palates have really evolved. They are ready to accept changes and try out new things. Be it the impact of print or social media, the knowledge of ingredients and cuisine has increased.


What makes this a good time to open in New York?


We think the restaurant is well set in Delhi now, and we have a team ready, so we can think of expanding on a global arena. We want to showcase what we are doing because there are misconceptions about Indian food abroad. Some think it’s too heavy, creamy or oily, and others feel it is all about Chicken Tikka Masala. They also think that it can’t be paired with wine, and that it can’t make for a fine dining experience. So, we want to tell the world that there’s a lot more to our food.


Weren’t there plans to open Indian Accent in Mumbai too?


Yes, we were working on coming to Mumbai, but something or the other kept coming in the way. Maybe in the future, we will attempt it again.


Tell us about the New York outpost.


It will open in November and will be along the lines of the Delhi Indian Accent. Our best dishes will definitely feature on the menu. But we’re now entering a bigger playing field. It’s like playing cricket in a gully, and then at Lord’s – you have a better kit for the latter. In New York, we’ll have access to a variety of top quality ingredients. The best things from around the world are available there, so we want to play with those ingredients. We will try to use 100 per cent local produce. We are taking a few people from here and training a few local chefs there. It gives a kitchen more meaning if you have locals who understand the country better than you. Their expertise will help.

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