Aug 24, 2013

An Experience at Michelin Star Atul Kochhar's Rang Mahal

The scene when you walk into this upscale Indian restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai is dark and mysterious and really sets the mood for the dinner to follow.  The red and black decor is appropriate as  it directly correlates to Rang Mahal, the Red Fort in Delhi after which the restaurant is named.  On this particular evening we were in for a treat as we prepared for the ultimate gastronomical adventure by none other than Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar, an event that was not to be missed!
We were whisked gracefully into the dining room, and conveniently sat with a clear view to the kitchen where we could watch all the chefs in action creating their culinary magic right before our eyes.  The waitstaff was eager and ready to share their passion with us as they gingerly described our menu choices.  Although they recommended the 9 course tasting menu, my guest and I saw a few items from the regular menu that caught our eye. We went ahead with the a la carte options, but requested a tasting portion so we could try the range of delicacies prepared at the hands of this skilled chef.

The seared scallop pictured below is a dish that I was mildly familiar with.  Featured at this past years Taste of Dubai festival, I remember trying out these little gems accompanied by the cauliflower puree and shaved cauliflower tendrils on top.  The pairing of these two items together is one of my favorite flavor combinations and one I have created a recipe for myself as well (Seared Scallops with Curried Cauliflower Puree).  Atul's version with the velvety smooth puree and perfectly seared scallop goes into the books as one of the loveliest executions of the modern Indian cuisine he has created.
My absolute favorite item of the evening was the deep-fried softshell crab known as "Karara Kekada" on the menu.  Coated with seasoned rice flour and paired with an apple and peanut salad along with a cilantro aioli, this dish personifies the art of Atul's genius in the kitchen.  A dish that is most simple in  presentation, but communicates so much character with its combination of ingredients as well as technique.  It's one of those items you would  specifically go back for and would never disappoint as the shining star for the evening (as crab always is).
From the mains I really enjoyed the sea bass "meen moilley", which is another one of Atul's signature items. The beautifully cooked seabass with crispy skin and all sits on top of mustard tempered potatoes swimming in a turmeric and coconut curry sauce.  Addicting to say the least, this gorgeous dish packs a punch of flavor and texture, you will be licking your plate clean with any morsel of naan or roti you can find.    
 For dessert, we went with the classic chocolate delice which came highly recommended by the staff, the rich chocolate ganache was smooth in texture, surprisingly sweet with slightly bitter undertones.  It was sprinkled with some light spices and and edible floral garnish to create a playful garden like display.  I actually rather enjoyed the chocolate paired with the fennel ice cream which was served with the chocolate peanut butter tube dessert, also a featured item at this restaurant as well as the Michelin star Benares in the UK.
Atul Kochhar's approach to Indian cuisine is innovative and inspiring.  I met him for the first time a couple years back, initially at a tasting held at the World Trade Center Tower, following that was an interview at Taste of Dubai 2012.  After meeting this charming and talented chef, I knew there was something special about him as well as his culinary delights.  His career accomplishments go on and on, but one thing's for sure, he has made a mark for himself and his modern Indian cuisine in Dubai as well as the UK. For more on my one on one with Atul check out the following Blog Post.....

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