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Contemporary Indian Cuisine


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Mongo, I did call the restaurant last evening.

Spoke with someone called Byron. He said he worked on wines for the restaurant. A very helpful person, he also read out dishes from the menu.

He delicately reminded me that the menu is not what we see online. That is an older one.

When asked what kind of food the restaurant served, following are his exact words:

" Eurasian Fusion. Hard to define. Sort of a cross between French, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian cuisines. With greater influence of French, Thai and Chinese."

Some of the dishes I remember him telling me about:

Seared Shrimp (he said the shrimp where closer to lobster in taste and texture)

Served with cauliflower and cardamom cream

He mentioned some kind of a duck breast

Seared Vietnamese Tuna

And some other dishes.

The chef is from India. His name is Mel.

It seemed like Byron had great respect for the chef and was proud of working for this restaurant. :smile:

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M65, certainly your "handsome pic" as Monica puts it, would be great here, but I would really love to see your menu from the Indian restaurant.

I have called a friend of mine from NYC...that had worked for an Indian chef that made French food in your area... and I am wondering if this friend had actually worked or applied for a job at your restaurant. Hmm.... I have not heard back from my friend who is now traveling. What a small world it is if that were to be true.

If you find time, please post the menu from your Indian restaurant. It would be of great interest to me for sure. Maybe the others would enjoy it as well.

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Thank you for your diverse responses people, two things, firstly the menu is just a sample menu to show the diversity of our food, secondly we also have a Indian restaurant of our own a block away, so it would be foolish to compete, the menu is written with a very barest essence of ingredients yet i can assure you that Indian nuances are widely felt when the dish is presented to you and when one tastes it, suttle elegant Indian accents and wine freindly food.

Sounds great. I think the key to good food is subtlety.

And wine friendly sounds like a winning concept.

Congratulations! :smile:

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There are a number of neighborhood type restaurants in the UK trying to jump on the contemporary indian bandwagon. Most of them can be summed up as offering the same food they always did, with different names, in smaller portions but with more fresh coriander.

there are some good ones though.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I am sort of sceptical of this whole idea of "contemporary Indian cuisine" as a new and - the underlying premise - improved form of Indian food because it seems to me to be applying a conceptual framework that isn't really applicable to Indian food.

That conceptual framework seems to take its definition mainly from French food, which evolved a grand and highly codified tradition, practiced by specialists (though in reality many may have taken their inspiration from peasant food), against which a tradition of lighter and more modern contempory food was able to define itself.

But other forms of cooking do not always have such grand traditions. It requires the long term support of an affluent aristocratic class which wasn't always the case in India, however much people like Jiggs Kalra go on about the 'royal cuisines of India', a term that I'd say have more to do with the imperatives of five star restaurants trying to flatter customers into coming, rather than any real history.

Of course there were pockets of royalty which evolved their own styles - Hyderabad, Mughlai - but I think their influence was pretty limited and the results were never codified as they were in the West (the cooks would never share their recipes outside their families). So is there really a classical style to differentiate a contemporary one from?

There's also the point that in India at least no one would talk about any one thing called 'Indian food', but defining the debate in that terms could possibly indicate what 'contemporary' means in this context - an opposition to the sort of standardised menu evolved by 12 to the paise Tandoori joints that pass themselves off as 'Indian'.

Even then I'd say the succesful examples of contemporary Indian restaurants are more 'regional' than 'contemporary' and if they do things that don't feature in regional menus, like Das Sreedharan's recipe for broccoli thoran from his book New Flavours of India (nice book, but misnomer in title again, it should be New Flavours of Kerala), then its simply pre-empting the sort of development that would have happened naturally enough when that regional cuisine encountered the broccoli at home. After all, the ubiquity of tomatoes, potatoes and chillies in India shows how the cooking could take as its own even New World vegetables like this.

So I think rather than trying to force Indian food into categories of classical vs contemporary, we should perhaps acknowledge that its essence has always been ethnic/regional and that within this general framework there's plenty of scope for change and renewal. As Carlovski says this would save us from people doing the same as they always did, except with added coriander, and calling it contemporary Indian!

Or another way of looking at it would be to look at the one part of Indian cooking where techniques, traditions and ingredients have been mixing up together very happily - in street food. Which takes us back to another long running thread....


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I was just curious as to what different perceptions people have about Contemporary Indian Food, what foreign elements may be allowed, how much identity in terms of visual appeal it must retain, how much breakaway from non family style service is acceptible when eating at restaurants and etc. Your views people.  :)


contemporary as I understands it, means mordern or current. Threfore contemporary Indian cuisine to me would mean what people are doing in India in terms of perhaps using slightly different cooking techniques from the tradional that we have been familiar, eg. dispensing with the bhunoo technique as Episure in Bombay does but the results are still good, perhaps dispensing with certain ingredients in favor of newer ones eg. no more desi ghee and oil floating on top, or perhaps incorporation of new world veggies and other stuff like brocolli as pointed out by Vikram, or maybe fusion of with some other cuisines that has become so strong that it might be termed contemporary Indian. There also may be certain 'yesteryear' things that may be the rage today, last year everywhere I went in India, Fig Ice Cream was on all the menus.

That is my perception.

What may or may not be allowed. I don't think you have any choice. You simply pick up what is happening in India TODAYand present it to your patrons. If you make changes it will no longer be contemporary Indian but YOUR take on contemporary Indian.

I also think that we might be mixing up contemporary and fusion a bit.

Cheers all


Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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I have always remembered what Gael Greene (Insatiable food critic, NY Magazine) said when asked about fusion cuisine:

"Fusion confusion".:unsure:

She used just two words and said everything one ought to know when dealing with such debates.

Vikram, our own resident wordsmith, has said a great deal in his post on this thread. Thanks again Vikram. I revisited this thread to see if anyone had offended anyone else, and found nothing as such, but a visit once again with your words that left me thinking. And thanking you and your experiences for a very rich landscape of thinking. :smile:

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Hello all! I'm just back from a trip to New York, the highlight of which was meeting Suvir and getting together with friends to eat a wonderful meal at Amma. I was reading through this thread and thought I'd offer my opinion based on my limited insight.

I am fairly new to Indian cooking, but in the last year have been trying recipes as well as visiting different Indian restauants in the Twin Cities area. Each place I've gone to (Taste of India, Natraj or The New Delhi Bar and Restaurant to name three) has had its own particular vibe: enjoyable, generally a good meal, but fairly conventional in its ambience, tastes and presentational style.

My meal at Amma (which, by the way, heads the list of my top three favorite dining experiences) far exceeded anything I could have imagined. Anyone wishing to experience contemporary Indian cuisine should look no further than this restaurant (Look out Suvir, I'm gonna brag about you and Amma for a bit :biggrin: ). The restaurant itself is warm and contemporary in its appearance, and the entire staff not only knowledgeable, but helpful and friendly to a fault. My friends and I had reservations for 7pm and were at the restaurant until nearly 12am. Hemant and Suvir dished up an amazing tasting menu that took us through a most enjoyable night. Not only this, but both chefs visited our table more than once throughout the course of the evening to meet us and talk with us a few moments - what a delightful treat!

Each course was perfectly timed and had an aesthetic that was wholly pleasing. The textures and the layers of flavor were unquestionably Indian, but the quality of and care put into each course set it apart from what I'd been used to. In addition, the subtlety yet intensity of flavor (especially the okra dish) had us nearly curled up on the floor in fetal position - these were flavors I recognized, but had never experienced in quite this way.

Bottom line: The food served up at Amma was the most authentic, familiar Indian food I'd never tasted before.

Suvir, thanks for sharing your vision for contemporary Indian cuisine at Amma. You've certainly set a dizzyingly high standard. I cannot wait for my next visit to New York!

Matthew in Minnesota :smile:

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  • 3 weeks later...

People, has anybody here heard about Monsoon, my freind Krishna Iyer should join the forum in a day or so, I just took it upon myself to highlight his restaurant.

Monsoon's Website

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux

makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin

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This morning I was looking at the website for MPR's "Splendid Table" (www.splendidtable.org) to see what I'd missed from last week's broadcast. As I scanned the show description, I found that Lynne Rossetto Kasper (the show's host) mentioned Amma. Here's a link to what was written under Lynne's finds:


Then I decided to listen to the broadcast online (November 8). About 45 minutes into the show, Lynne mentions her experience eating at Amma last month. What stuck me most was her description of the food Amma serves. Lynne describes her meal (if you've never heard Lynne before, check out her show - her enthusiasm for fine food is unparalleled) as contemporary Indian cuisine. I thought the description apt in light of this thread.


Matthew in Minnesota :smile:

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