Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fresh, Seasonal and Natural Menu at Fire, The Park

I remember reviewing Fire, the contemporary Indian restaurant at The Park 13 years ago when it first opened. That was a time when ‘contemporary Indian’ cuisine hadn’t reached the masses as it has today. So when it was decided to reinvent the menu at Fire, the team under the very able leadership of executive chef Abhishek Basu, decided to stick to what they knew best. Contemporary Indian remains the central focus, but with the addition of organic ingredients, using fresh and seasonal produce and offering a pan-Indian choice.

Know Thy Food
“The eating habits of Indians are changing,” says Chef Basu. “They prefer lighter meals and increasingly want to know exactly what they’re eating.” Talking about the arduous task of choosing the best of Indian ingredients from suppliers and artisans who practice sustainable techniques to offer environmentally conscious foods, he adds that proudly mentioning their names on the menu is the hotel’s way of giving them recognition for their work. While all the lentils, long grain basmati rice and cow’s ghee come from Sanjeevani Organics, most of the free range chicken and duck are from Gayatri Organics. Father Michael’s cheese, peal barley and millets from The Altitude Store, pork from Roger Langbour’s French Farm and microgreens from Krishi Cress. And there are more suppliers: AK Farms, Ehsaas Organics, Navdania, Round Glass and Shudh GadwalThe hotel is also cultivating some fresh greens and veggies in the limited space that they have.

Left: Burrata, Arugula and Tomato salad.
Right: Yakhni Shorba with 
Beja Fry Pate on Toast.

Expect to Eat:
The menu takes you on a culinary journey through India with Yakhni Shorba (Rs 195) from Kashmir to Duck Mappas (Rs 545) from Kerala. The former is served with bheja fry pate on multigrain toast and the latter is best had with crisp and fluffy appam.

I start with a refreshing salad of Burrata from Father Michael in Bangalore, organic Arugula and cherry tomatoes that is tied up beautifully with a dressing of crisp curry leaves and tempered mustard seeds (Rs 295). Having had burrata the Italian way so far, this is a lovely Indian take on the creamy cheese. Starters include a spicy Broccoli Fennel Tikki (Rs 295); Bhut Jolokia Prawn (Rs 695) that melts in the mouth and the heat of the ghost pepper is controlled by infusing it in oil; podi tossed steamed Idlis (Rs 245) that have a kick of gun powder and inji chutney and Murgh Methi Malai Tikka (Rs 445) is as succulent as the name suggests.

Clockwise from Top Left: Broccoli Fennel Tikki; Bhut Jolokia Prawn;
Podi tossed steamed Idlis; Murgh Methi Malai Tikka. 

In the mains, while the curries and meats are finger licking good, I absolutely love the accompanying specialty breads. The Black Millet Dosa (Rs 195) that is paired with Coorgi Pandi Curry (Rs 545) is crisp and flavourful. The ragi rotis are wholesome and go beautifully with the Tawa Paneer Khatta Pyaz (Rs 295) that has a hint of sweet and sour. {Chef Basu has graciously shared these recipes for you!}

Clockwise from Top Left: Coorgi Pandi Curry with Millet Dosa; Tawa
Paneer Khatta Pyaz with Ragi Roti; Achari Risotto; Duck Mappas
with Appam.

After this delicious meal the desserts are unfortunately not exciting enough. The Thandai Panacotta with Kali Mirch Truffle imparts a real thandai flavour but it is not something that I would really go back again for. The house made truffle with pepper is very good though. And even the Mysore Cacao Chocolate Mousse with Chilli Mascarpone lacks a wow factor.

Top: Thandai Panacotta with Kali Mirch Truffle.
Bottom: Mysore Cacao Chocolate Mousse with Chilli Mascarpone.

In a Nutshell: Whenever you’re in the mood for Indian, do head to Fire. Besides a la carte they even offer thalis (Rs 895 for vegetarian and Rs 1095 for non-vegetarian) and tasting menus. Either way the choice is extensive and literally represents modern India on a platter.

Fire, The Park, 15, Parliament Street, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
Timings: Lunch 11am-3pm; Dinner 7.30pm-12.30am.
Phone: 011 33106437.
Tasting menu available for Dinner: Vegetarian Rs 1,600; Non-vegetarian Rs 1,900. Wine paired Tasting Menu starting at Rs 3,300.

Paneer Khatta Pyaaz

200gms paneer, cut into cubes
200gms tomatoes (whole)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chili  (deghi mirch)
1 tbsp salted butter
1 pinch fenugreek powder
2 tbsp cream
50gms vinegar soaked shallots along with beetroot
Salt to taste
Honey, as required

Boil the tomatoes for 10-12 minutes. Once cooled, make a smooth puree of the boiled tomatoes and keep aside.Take a pan and add butter. Let it melt on a slow flame. Add red chili to the melted butter followed by the tomato puree. Bring it to boil. Now, add the salt, honey, vinegar soaked shallots and paneer cubes to the gravy. Let it simmer for a while. Add fenugreek powder and cream with a dash of cow ghee. Serve hot with rice or roti.

Coorgi Pandi Curry

500gm pork, cut into cubes without fat
200gm onions, finely sliced
200gm tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
2 tbsp Coorgi masala (spice mix)
50 ml Kachampuli vinegar

For the Coorgi masala (to be dry roasted one by one and powdered)
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
5-6 cloves
10-15 peppercorns
1-1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
10-12 methi/fenugreek seeds (don't add too much or it will lend a bitter taste)
10-15 curry leaves (optional but recommended)

Take a non-stick pan and heat the oil on slow flame. In a mixer take the onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and red chili and blend well. Add the mix in the oil and allow it to cook for about 20 minutes on slow fire. Add the cubed pork in the above mixture and cook on slow flame for 10-12 minutes along with salt as per taste. Transfer the pork in a pressure cooker. Add salt, Coorgi masala , kachampuli vinegar and one cup of water. Cook for 4 whistles. Switch off the flame and allow the pork curry to rest in it for about 30 minutes. Open the pressure cook and check the pork. It should be fork tender. Serve hot with rice, dosa or parotta.

Ragi Roti

500gms ragi flour
100gms wholewheat flour (atta)
Salt to taste
Water, as required

Sieve the ragi flour and wholewheat flour. Add salt and knead it in smooth dough with water. Take a small portion and roll into a chapatti. Place it on a hot tawa or griddle and cook until you see the colour change into a darker shade. Turn and cook the other side as well. Now hold the roti with a tong and keep the first side that was cooked, directly on fire. The roti will start to puff. Serve it hot with vegetable of your choice.