Whether you love mangoes or not, the new summer menu at Spice Route, The Imperial New Delhi, will impress and delight you to no limit!
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: June 3, 2013
When I had reviewed the summer menu at Spice Route (at The Imperial New Delhi) last year, I didn’t think the restaurant could have done any better than that. So when they introduced the new summer menu this year, I was quite intrigued to see what novelty they have introduced now.
Therefore, I was soon on my way to this charming, old-world hotel, and have my share of mangoes. As we had discovered last year, the summer menu at Spice Route always revolves around mangoes. And accompanying me was a friend who typically doesn’t like fruit in his food. Giving a little insight, Chef Veena Arora, Chef De cuisine at Spice Route, said, “Keeping the mango central to the palette, the menu is a brilliant concoction of raw and ripe mangoes paired with perfect accompaniments, ranging from rice to chicken, prawns, sole to aubergine.”
Spice Route, over and above the food, has a wonderful tale to tell about the cycle of life. Each and every corner of the restaurant represents a certain stage of life and is designed to depict so. Characters from Mahabharat, which have been hand painted with vegetable dyes on the wall, look back at you in the beginning stages of life. The coziest area is the relationship corner, where you’ll only find two-seat tables. This is, however, just a glimpse of the wonderful thought process which has gone behind the theme of the restaurant. Sitting in that ambience, surrounded by South East Asian décor influences (just like its cuisine), Spice Route proves to be a stunning arena to explore their wonderful fare in. Take a tour to actually understand the story…
The fragrance of mangoes
Starting with appetizers, my companion found the Yera Masala a perfect blend of spiciness and tanginess. Kerala style prawns were stir fried with black tamarind and dices of raw mango. The combination of prawns and mango turned out to be an excellent one. The Yum Kung Heng Mamuang – a mix of crispy prawns, dry shrimps and raw mango salad – turned out to be exceptional again. Although my companion found the shrimps to be a little too salty, they were absolutely fresh along with the prawns. The raw mango salad offered perfect tanginess which could be off-set by peanuts.
The vegetarian version of this, Yum Mamuang, was equally good. Tangy and fresh, the raw mango salad set the tone beautifully for the rest to come. Not too tangy to make you push it away, the lip smacking salad was perfection. And that is no wonder since Chef Veena Arora, Chef de Cuisine at Spice Route, takes immense care while selecting each and every mango for the recipe.
Along with appetizers came the Mangai Rassam, which turned out to be a delightful concoction of the traditional Kerala style lentil broth, but flavoured with mangoes, which again gave it a slightly tangy flavour, while preserving its original spirit too. Warm and slightly spicy, it shakes you up due to its simple innovation.
While this was just the introduction, the main course turned out to be even more delightful. Amba Curry, a Sri Lankan spicy raw mango curry, was smooth in texture and slightly thick, courtesy the coconut milk in it. Even though this exemplary dish is strong enough to hold on its own, it can be paired with Chef’s Special Jasmine rice, which is also cooked in coconut milk and garnished with ripe mango dices. Not too sweet, the rice quickly became a favourite of my companion.
My unfiltered admiration, however, goes to the Maambalam Appams. The uniqueness of these appams lies in the fact that a bit of ripe mango has been mixed in the batter before cooking it, which does not make it as crisp as the original one, but actually better than it! And when it is served, you’ll notice that the appam is folded in half (as opposed to it being flat and round originally) with a helping of ripe mangoes stuffed in between. A little sweet, the appams charmed me with their innovation. Pair it with Mangai Katrikai, where small brinjal and water chestnut curry has been flavoured with coconut and raw mango paste. Spicy and slightly tangy, it combines deliciously with the appams, while offsetting the sweetness if it becomes a bit too much for you. A meal in itself, I couldn’t stop myself from having a couple of appams with Mangai Katrikai only.
After last year’s show, I quite looked forward to the dessert. Neither did Chef Veena disappoint! Offered in a tempting, gorgeous sundae-style, the Chef Special dessert is a mango sorbet served with sticky rice, peanuts and dices of bread. A pretty sight for sore, heat-weary eyes, we were mesmerized just by the presentation of it. Dig your spoon through and try taking the sorbet with the rice. The cool sorbet and the rice blends perfectly, making you thank your stars you had a chance to try a brilliant recipe like this.
Chef Veena’s mango recipes have been created with a lot of thought process, planning and experimentation. But when they reach your table, the simplicity of it amazes you, making you think that how come nobody ever realized these remarkable combinations! Whether its mangoes with prawn or lentils, the recipes showcased Chef Veena’s culinary magic aptly, making us look forward in anticipation to her next creative efforts! This summer menu, however, is only available till July 2013, so make sure your reservation is in place.
Coordinates: Janpath Lane, Connaught Place, New Delhi (Ph: +91-11-23341234)