The raw food movement seems to have picked up a few new recruits in Delhi, muscular ones at that. There’s the Tartare, which is made using various minced meats suffused with spices and bound together with either egg or breadcrumbs, as well as the Gravalax, an uncooked Nordic salmon preparation cured in salt and lime juices. Carpaccio, or thinly sliced slivers of meat, have been around for a while now. There is a growing presence of such dishes on high-end restaurant menus and, more significantly, on plates.
In their attempt to curate authentic and elaborate experiential meals, five-star Japanese restaurants such as MEGU at the Leela Palace and Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel have been serving items such as Yellowtail Carpaccio and Tartares as well as beef variants of the same. “Yellow Tail Carpaccio has been a popular delicacy on our menu for both local and international guests. The demand for such dishes has seen a rapid growth in the past few months and I foresee the trend continuing for some time”, said Yutaka Saito, Chef de Cuisine at MEGU. While the dishes, made using almost exclusively imported ingredients, all cost upwards of Rs 2,500, there seems to be no shortage of takers.
The story is much the same in standalone European restaurants such as Le Bistro Du Parc and Rara Avis, though here chefs prefer to use local ingredients as much as possible. Rara Avis does a Steak Tartare made with raw tenderloin infused with condiments, and Carpaccio de Boeuf served with parmesan shavings and capers. “We’ve offered beef tartar as a special very frequently since we opened one year ago and it has always been very well-received. We decided that, instead of keeping it as a permanent fixture on our a la carte menu, we’d offer it as an occasional treat for our guests,” says Alexis Gielbaum, Executive Chef at Le Bistro Du Parc, adding, “What we’ve also been experimenting with are cured dishes, which, of course, are not cooked as such.
On our present menu, we have our own take on Gravlax using local salmon. Cured with lemon, orange and grapefruit and served with a beetroot vinaigrette and horseradish it’s really been a great success. We’ve also experimented with cured duck breast, which was also well-received.” Similarly, Zing at The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa does a smoked salmon preparation, which is cold-smoked and salt-treated.
What is surprising is the number of Indians, who are happy to partake of the raw flesh as it were. Then again, perhaps it is not.” Keeping in line with local preferences and palate, I especially infuse the raw meat dishes with delicate Indian flavours, combining them with avant-garde presentation. Yes, we do see our guests from India ordering these dishes often,” says Saito. “Certainly there’s been an increase in the consumption of these dishes. That being said, when taking orders from Indians for raw/cured dishes, I take extra care to make it explicitly clear that the items are not cooked as there can be an attached stigma. Nevertheless, with the huge onslaught of international cuisines in India, the local palate has certainly gained an eclectic edge I doubt would have been the case even 10 years ago,” says Gielbaum.