If you follow what most Indian chefs are doing with Western food, two trends stand out. The first is a reliance on the techniques pioneered by Ferran Adrià and the masters of so-called molecular gastronomy.
* At the top end of the business, you must customise. At Ducasse, they cut the bread from a loaf at a counter in front of you and then put it in the basket. The butter was scooped out of a golden mountain of the creamiest butter imaginable and put on a plate for each table.
Each guest got a little packet of cartoony cards at the end of the meal. The cards corresponded to each dish consumed. And they printed out a separate card for each table with the wines consumed. Too many expensive Indian restaurants miss out on a sense of occasion.
* There was virtually no molecular gastronomy (may be the odd foam, perhaps) at any of these places. The emphasis was on flavours. Ravin introduced spices from the Caribbean that subtly transformed French dishes. And Ducasse served his mixture of shellfish as a broth made with chanas (chick peas!).
I didn’t have one dud meal. And the lessons I took back were the classic ones: know your ingredients; source them carefully and locally; don’t muck around with them; and remember it’s not about science – it’s about simple but subtle flavours.
(Vir Sanghvi was a guest of the Principality of Monaco.)
From HT Brunch, April 26
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