As Indigo Deli turns 10, Executive Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee talks about their journey and the restaurant’s signature dish.
It is a scene common to Indigo Delicatessen in Mumbai and Delhi- hungry shoppers tucking into sandwiches and office-goers chomping down a quick meal. Surrounded by the bustle, Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee almost does not believe that it has been 10 years since the first branch of Indigo Deli opened in Colaba, introducing foodies of the city to classic Western comfort fare, such as pulled pork burgers, reuben sandwiches and philly cheese steak.
“It doesn’t feel like we are 10 years old. We’ve done so much food and it’s all been immensely exciting,” he says. Anniversary celebrations in Mumbai, till June 30, include new dishes on the menu, a day-long food truck, and a cooking workshop. After six branches in Mumbai and the one in Delhi that opened last year, expansion is also on the charts.
Since 2005, the Deli has been a one-stop gourmet shop, with its varieties of cheese, freshly baked breads, meats, wines and preserves on retail. “Since the beginning, the aim was to be a hub for quality food,” states Mukherjee. Their most-successful dish, however, was also the result of determination and dollops of luck — the Reuben sandwich. It is a mouthful of pastrami with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and homemade mustard packed in between rye bread.
“We were told that the Reuben would not work due to lack of quality beef here, which is true. I explained to the butcher how I wanted the meat sliced — the beef brisket comes from the animal’s chest. It took a long time to get it right, but it worked,” says the chef.
Over the years, the restaurant has played host to the Clintons, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie among other celebs. “We get absurd requests even now, people bring their own ingredients and want us to cook it,” says Mukherjee, who joined restaurateur Rahul Akerkar’s deGustibus Hospitality in 2002 and donned the mantle of Executive Chef when Indigo Deli opened.
The lifetime of Indigo Deli has seen a spurt of fine dining in India as well as new-age fascination with international cuisines and molecular gastronomy, among others. Mukherjee says that their own motto is clear: “There is no foam, gels, powder or dust in our set-up. We do straightforward, comfort food, which you’d like to come back for,” he says.