A modern look at India’s culinary landscape
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A modern look at India’s culinary landscape

At Inddee, chef Sachin Poojary focuses on ingredients unique to the sub-continent

SOCIAL & LIFESTYLE
A modern look at India’s culinary landscape

It should come as no surprise that one of my favourite cuisines, come rain or shine, is Indian. Of course, having been born and brought up in Bombay, India, has a lot to do with it. The other factor is that the variety of cuisines in India is vast, as vast as the country itself and then some.

Enter Inddee, Bangkok’s best new fine-dining opening this year, which offers modern Indian by chef Sachin Poojary. While entering the alley off Lang Suan heading to Inddee may evoke nostalgia, there is nothing reminiscent of the restaurants that used to be there. If the mist, garden shrubs and “tunnel” to the restaurant isn’t indication enough, Inddee has the wow factor that celebrates the essence of India though art, design and gastronomy. 

Inddee seats up to 50 diners over two floors, each space different from each other, which ensures if you do return, and you’re going to want to, you never have to experience the same ambience from the first time. The ground floor is home to two open kitchens, one hot and the other cold, though my favourite spot would be at the counter surrounding the hot kitchen… where most of the action is. The ground floor also houses a wine cellar, while the floor above connects two distinctly different spaces with a live cooking station. One is a glasshouse and the other under a vaulted ceiling.

If observed with a keen eye, you’ll see the homage to India in various details. Inddee’s logo is an arch, the delta triangle and a matchstick. Arches, emblematic of India’s historic architecture, fill the restaurant, while the delta symbolises fire, at the core of any kitchen, and the matchstick, which forms the “I” for Inddee, signifies the human element required in the transformative moment of ignition. 

Once your eyes have had their fill, it’s time for what is colloquially known in India as “pet pooja” or stomach worship. Chef Poojary, who was formerly at Wasabi By Morimoto at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, curates a seven course menu, for vegetarian and non-vegetarian diners. The tasting menu also has a few choices for add-ons, some of which are a must-try. So come, as you do, to this Indian… ready for a feast! 

The menu is a showcase of India, in its entirety, with dishes ranging from all corners of the country chosen for their uniqueness and modernised for the diner, who is not really familiar with Indian cuisine, but also who is; it does invoke memories. Written with experience, naturally!

Each dish is marked by a location in India so you know the dish’s origins. Before we begin the actual tasting menu, I would start with the first dish on the supplement course, Oyster (B250++). A dish from the Konkan Belt, the West coast of India, it uses kokum, a fruit from the mangosteen family, from Devgad, which is where India’s best comes from. “A Gillardeau oyster comes with sol khadi, pickled daikon, compressed turnips, salted kale and coriander flowers,” explains chef Poojary. A popular summer drink on this coast, sol khadi is made with kokum and coconut milk. 

Once your palate has opened with the amuse bouche, begin with “Bites Into Inddee”, which are four. Xec Xec from Goa is traditionally a crab curry using coconut and spices, but at Inddee it is served as a crab tart. Khari chai is the quintessential drink from my hometown of Bombay aka Mumbai. Inspired by the Irani cafes of Bombay where strong tea is usually paired with cream horns or spiced mince with soft bread loaves called “pav”. “We have taken the best of all and served the spiced mince in the puff pastry horn with creme fraiche. Instead of chai, we serve a Hyderabadi mutton broth called marag,” explains the chef.  The Mirch salan from Hyderabad uses a Padrón pepper and the salan is enveloped around the chilli. The Inddee version of Chaat has around 15 ingredients and even includes bitter gourd. Instead of using the usual souring agents, chef Pojary uses chhundo, a Gujarati pickle, which uses green mangoes. 

The non-vegetarian seven-course journey begins with Kashmiri morels, which are stuffed with khoya (dried evaporated milk) and nuts and served with enoki saffron pulao. If you’re wondering why Inddee’s dishes have some sort of Japanese element to them, it is because chef Poojary's former place of work. An addictive Scallop tartare is served with injipuli dressing and roasted cauliflower puree. From Kerala, injipuli is a sweet and sour curry made with ginger, tamarind, chillies and jaggery, which is India’s palm sugar. 

One of the most popular dishes to originate from West Bengal is the mustard fish curry or shorshe maach. At Inddee, black cod is served with Bengali kasundi (mustard), gondhoraj (Bengal lime) and pickled ginger buds.

A dry tribute to the Nagpur saoji is the juicy quail. Saoji is a dish that identifies with the Halba Koshtiweaver community of Madhya Pradesh. They migrated from their original environs to Nagpur in 1877 to work in the mills and took their saoji with them. It is traditionally spicy and mostly used in non-vegetarian cooking. “It is a dark coloured curry that is served with rice and chicken or mutton. Usually the colour comes from roasting the onion and coconut in the wood fire. Then spices are mixed into it. We use French quail on charcoal, marinated in saoji spices; quail ballotine stuffed with chicken mince, parsnip puree and quail jus,” explains the chef. The dish is best eaten with kulcha, either the fennel and gorgonzola, or the truffle and brie (B250++ each). Though, I could eat only the kulchas and be happy, they are that good.  

From the supplements, order the Char-grilled lamb chop (B490++) with fermented rhubarb pickle, a dish that comes from Himachal Pradesh. Though, if you’re in the mood for a warm hug, nothing like the Lobster (B1490++) in a kanji (rice water) porridge served with courgette (zucchini) poriyal. A dish from the Coromandel coast or the southeastern coast of India. 

I am going to leave the rest of the non-vegetarian menu for you to taste rather than salivate about and move to the highlights of the vegetarian menu, which I would eat in a heart beat! 

From Indore comes the Textures of Thai purple corn with a house blend of jeerawan spice. The spice mix is made using cumin, coriander, fennel, clove, cinnamon, red chilli, asafoetida, turmeric and dried mango, among others and as with everything Indian food, has health benefits. Apart from being a taste enhancer, it is also known to improve digestion and keep the body warm during winter, not that we’d be needing much of that warmth here, which is why chef Poojary serves the dish with a sorbet. 

If you haven’t heard of or eaten a dish from Goa called sorpotel, you haven’t lived. At Inddee, Butternut squash sorpotel is stuffed into sannas, served with a chilli-garlic thecha and toddy. A dish of Portuguese origins, sorpotel uses nose-to-tail pork and is traditionally accompanied by sannas or rice cakes, which has toddy, a palm wine of sorts to ferment the rice dough. Thecha is a dry chutney. Do I have you salivating?  

Luckily desserts are common in both menus, so you’re not missing out. If you had one sweet thing to eat in Bombay, it would be the falooda, whose origins are Persian and came with the Mughals to India. A great dish for the heat, the cold dessert has milk, rose syrup and vermicilli. It’s outstanding feature is the basil seeds and the dessert is often served with ice cream. At Inddee, Baked yoghurt flood is served with Bishop’s rose from Chiang Mai and basil seeds. 

Inddee also focuses, in case you haven’t already guessed, on unique ingredients from the sub-continent. The 65% Pondicherry chocolate dessert is a testament to that. It is served with the class South Indian filter coffee aka “filter kaapi” (#iykyk) from Chickmaglur, hill station in Karnataka, Thoothukudi (formely Tuticorin) sea salt from Tamil Nadu and Malabari vanilla.  

Inddee’s wine programme, curated by sommelier Thanakorn “Jay” Bottorff, is a diary of sorts, featuring more than 60 wines by glass and more than 600 labels by bottle. The programme shines a spotlight on the producers and selected winemakers. Bottorff’s aim is to create a guest-friendly wine list that serves as an intriguing book of discovery rather than a mere catalogue of names and appellations. “All of our labels are focus on artisanal and natural wines. If we have a visiting winemaker in town or a new wine that is trending in the market, we mention their history and how their wine in made in the menu. Guests can also choose if they want 75ml or 125ml, so they can taste more wines that they are unfamiliar with,” explains Jay. 

The renowned sommelier hasn’t stopped there. To make wine-drinking a fun experience, he has a blind tasting game or a riddle, where winners receive either a glass or bottle of wine as a prize. Wines are categorised alphabetically by grape varieties for bottles and by intensity for wines by glass. Additionally, Inddee offers tasting portions of wine pairing in either nine glasses for B3,200++ or seven glasses for B2,500++. 

If you don’t drink wine, fear not. The cocktail programme, led by Heena Kewalramani shares a story of her liquid playground divided into three moods: eager for a pick-me-up, inquisitive and playful with signature aperitifs, martinis, and reinvented classics. “We built most of our drinks creatively simple, by taking a classic cocktail and reinventing it with our local flavours, whilst preserving its core essence.”, says Kewalramani. Take a Spritz with a robata charred pineapple or imagine a light mango lassi in Mango Lassi 2.0. 

Inddee is open for dinner from Monday to Sunday and the menu is priced at B3,200++ per person. Call 062-812-9696 or visit inddeebkk.com. 

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