Arranged beautifully behind a layer of glass at English Vinglish — a new, brightly-coloured patisserie in Juhu — are dozens of very curious-looking creations. With names such as Gulab Jamun Pear Brownie, Kheer Kadam Truffles with Five Spice Ganache, and Double Chocolate Pudding with Khada Masala, they hint at an attempt to combine the best of Indian and non-Indian desserts and such is indeed the case. Chef Raveer Brar, the man behind these mithai-based, eggless sweets says, “We want to take known flavours that Indians have grown up with and add to it a bit of something western. Earlier, food needed to be either expensive or exotic to have an appeal. But this generation is comfortable about their cultural roots. I mean, jutis are cool now,” he says, pointing at his fashionably-clad feet.
For example, the Angoori Ras Malai and Passion Fruit Terrine, an unexpected combination of chocolate and rasgulla, is a refreshingly modern take on two well-loved indulgences. There’s a Sweet Potato and Gulab Jamun Cheesecake, a dish that Brar says people either hate or love, but children might be attracted to the overly sweet concoction.
The chef feels that people would always be willing to try these pastries. “The flavours, even those you may not like, will bring back memories,” he says. Some are as simple as recalling the taste of the childhood favourites. The Khopra Pakh and Milk Chocolate Mielle Feuille tastes like the Bounty chocolate bar, and the Pineapple Halva and Hazelnut Cream Tart, fresh and light, reminds one of the sheera found in a South Indian eatery. Chef Brar grimaces, however, when his dishes are described as “fusion”. “Fusion is just bringing two tastes together. But this is more inspired than ‘fusion’; it is part of the evolution of both culture and food,” he says.
His breads, which use Indian grains, might indeed be the beginning of a new age in our cuisine. The most popular one is made from cornflour, coriander powder and flaxseeds. Though subtle, its ingredients are paired beautifully, as are those in the rustic Ragi bread with walnuts and caramelized onion.
The patisserie’s cookies are the best part of the eatery and a nice change from the hard, dry biscuits more common in India. The Gulab Jamun cookie is soft baked with a centre of gulab jamun and pistachio. The cookie dough helps dull the extreme sweetness of the gulab jamun, but the mithai gives it mouth-watering chewiness. The Kalakand Cookie transported us to the mounds of mishri-mawa hogged during Diwali. The Bitter Chocolate with Sea Salt cookie was the purest example of the high quality of ingredients that went into each dish.
In the section of soft-centred chocolates, we would recommend the Raspberry Caramel Pyramid. The raspberry added just enough tartness to the white chocolate. “Fruit and chocolate is a combination made in heaven,” says Brar. He doesn’t think that people are ready for a chilli and chocolate combination, though. “Maybe, later,” he says.
On the down side, the Candied Ginger Praline suffered from an excess of ginger and the Milk Chocolate Passion Ganache, although prettily dressed as a passion fruit, was too weird a combination.
Any last words about the patisserie? “I’m trying to say something. I have an idea. Some might like it, others might not, but no one has done it until now,” says Brar.
English, Vinglish is located at Shop No. 13, Juhu Supreme Shopping Center, Gulmohar Cross Road, 9, Juhu. The price ranges from Rs 40 to 150