Sunday, June 16, 2024

Tandoori Omakase makes a debut in South Delhi

INJA, a luxury hotel in the South Delhi enclave of Friends Colony.

INJA, a luxury hotel in the South Delhi enclave of Friends Colony.

Located inside The Manor — a luxury hotel in the South Delhi enclave of Friends Colony — where Indian Accent once stood, INJA has taken up a spot that not many have dared to: it is far away from any commercial activity.

Adwait Anatwar, Chef, INJA

Adwait Anatwar, Chef, INJA

But this is exactly why Dubai-based Atelier House Hospitality’s (AHH) chose the location for its debut project in India. (The group is known for its upscale restaurants in the Middle East North America region with award-winning brands, including Michelin-starred 11 Woodfire, Marea Dubai, Mohalla, RSVP, and Tides Bar.) “We had been thinking of coming to India for a long time. When we found out that Manav Thadani, our India partner, was looking for someone to run the restaurant space at The Manor, we knew it was time,” says Panchali Mahendra, president of AHH.

It took a year for the team to transform the space with architect Samar Zakhem. While the structure is sparse, Panchali has personally worked with local artisans to create art and accents that add warmth. Shibori wall pieces, pottery and ceramics, as well as a custom wallpaper with Japanese motifs, reflect the coming together of Japanese and Indian sensibilities.

A marriage of Indian and Japanese

Alaskan King Crab Raj Kachori

Alaskan King Crab Raj Kachori

“INJA was born when Chef Advait Anantwar came to us with the idea of introducing a tandoori Omakase menu. After many deliberations, it evolved into a concept that brings together the best of Japanese and Indian cuisines,” says Panchali. It is hard to visualise an Indian-Japanese menu until you actually taste it. We try it at a preview dinner shortly after the opening.

The first dish on the 10-course curated menu, Alaskan King Crab Raj Kachori, is an amalgamation of mango chutney, avocado espuma and ito togarashi inside a raj kachori casing; the kachori shell adds the crunch, and the salmon roe, ikura, pops in your mouth.

Papad Achaar

Papad Achaar

The other two cold plates include papad and achaar, made with a base of mushroom and rice papads, seabass tartare and fermented mango pickle. The accompanying cocktail, Ume Highball, made with Umeshu whiskey, gondhoraj lemon and pomelo, is tad sweet but goes well with the food.

While its form is perfect, Gobhi 65 Maki underwhelms with its spicy cauliflower tempura overpowering the subtle rice casing. The lobster rasam chawanmushi, made with drumstick marrow and egg white, features the finest lobsters from Japan and is served in a single bowl for two. The Koji Chicken Wings are just passable. The service that starts perfectly begins to slack too — some courses take too long to come and some do not arrive at all.

Despite the glitches, and the fact that it has barely been a couple of weeks since the opening, INJA has already received a warm welcome from the capital, with a long waitlist for tables.

Ume Highball

Ume Highball

The Donabe Pot with morel and nadru yakhni , which feels both familiar and comforting, could explain why the restaurant is getting such a warm welcome. Clearly, intense research has gone into creating the menu and no corners have been cut on sourcing. The fish equivalent with Bengali-style mustard curry and jhuri bhaja is also done well.

What stands out is the focus on the lesser-known regional ingredients and flavours. Jakhiya (wild mustard) from the Himalayas, black garlic from the North East, sesame from Khasi hills, and morel from Kashmir, all served beside the highest-grade Alaskan crab, Japanese tuna and salmon roe.

INJA Restaurant, The Manor Hotel, 77, Mathura Rd, Friends Colony West, New Friends Colony, New Delhi, Delhi 110065. Meal for two with alcohol: approx 8,000.

#Tandoori #Omakase #debut #South #Delhi

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