Restaurants are infusing alcohol with food, and the results are fascinating
By Srijani Ganguly for India Today on March 11, 2018
Alcoholic beverages usually sit outside the boundaries of plates, in a contained space of its own. But sometimes, in extraordinary circumstances, it finds itself be a part of the dish its meant to accompany. The experimentation is not always successful, but when it is, it adds a delightful edge to the dish at hand.
Over at The Irish House (which has outlets in Nehru Place and Noida), there’s plenty of alcohol to go around. Apart from the plethora of beer on offer, there are dishes such as Beer Can Roast Chicken, The Irish Riverdance and Tipsy Paprika, which are elevated with the presence of alcohol in them.
A favourite in the loaded fries section, Tipsy Paprika comes with the addition of a creamy paprika sauce, sautéed bell peppers and a dash of vodka. It’s slightly spicy, with the addition of vodka giving it a subtle high. It’s the kind of dish that’s best enjoyed with a group of friends surrounding the table.
On the sweeter side of things is The Irish Riverdance. It’s filled with goodies such as brownie, vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate, cookies, caramel sauce and lager beer. Going just by its looks, it seems like a decadent dish. Bite into it, and you’ll be overwhelmed by the many flavours mixing together in your mouth.
Over at Whisky Samba (in Gurugram), the Whisky Sour Ice Cream is another example of how well alcohol and desserts go together. The ice cream itself is presented in small cones, and looks like a darker shade of vanilla ice cream. Taste-wise, the flavour is very understated, You can taste the whisky in it, for sure, but it’s not too overpowering.
WE’VE all had pasta/grills doused in wine, (and stayed sober). But a few restaurants in the capital are giving their Indian preparations a twinge of alcohol to enhance the flavours – some hitting all the right notes, and some falling a tad flat. Take chef Shamshul Wahid’s Black Label Butter Chicken at Social. Served with roti/naaan/parantha, the portion is good enough for two. The first mouthful of the succulent pieces, swimming in a bed of creamy curry with tangy bite, wrapped in naan, and you’re hit with a bout of nostalgia (the butter chicken is textbook perfect) along with a curious aftertaste – the alcohol giving the dish an additional punch. And then there is the Jack Daniel infused Dal Makhni at Tamasha in CP. It’s essentially dal makhni in a jar with a shot of JD, served with baby garlic naan. Maybe they added a tad more JD than they should have, but the dal has lost the ‘makhani’, only to be replaced by an uneasy sharpness.
There’s always room for dessert, and The Piano Man Bakery offers a wide range of boozedriven desserts, which offers a bite of sweet and a sip of alcohol in every sampling. Their dreamy and soothing Very Boozy Tiramisu is something that materialised in the kitchen of chef Ruchira Hoon Philip, their bakery partner and chef. “I would make them at home for my guests. I just boozed it up further,” she says. The new range features Gin And Tonic Lemon Tart; Old Monk Chocolate Cake (dark chocolate) and Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding. They also have a vodka-based dessert coming soon, which is tricky as vodka evaporates much quicker than other spirits. “We know that rum and whiskey work with chocolate. But tequila and gin don’t go with chocolate. But they go well with a lemon flavour, and so, we have our Margarita Lime Cake for the summer. I figure which flavours would work well in a cocktail and then use similar ingredients to bake,” explains chef Ruchira. Their Honey and Bourbon Cake is a take on a Russian cake, full of bourbon, is a must try.
And as they use alcohol for baking, frosting as well as to soak the dessert, get ready to get drunk on desserts. Speaking of which, the Old Monk(ey) Chocolate Cake with Caramel and praline at Monkey Bar in Delhi is another dessert that is sinfully intoxicating, and the best way to end any meal.