Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Avtar Walia

New York Has an Indian Accent


It’s divine, it’s delish and most importantly, it’s here!

Rohit Khattar, owner of Indian Accent in New Delhi, one of India’s most renowned restaurants, rounded up the country’s top culinary crew, including Master Chef Manish Mehrotra, and outsourced the fleet, fervor and flavor to create its namesake, an equally trendy counterpart, here in New York City.

Indian Accent, located adjacent to Le Parker Meridien Hotel New York, has made its way up the gastronomic guide in New York’s very vigorous restaurant rankings. Unveiled early this year, this restaurant has become the talk of the town even among non-Indians.

pathar beef kebab, garlic chips, bone marrow nihari

Pathar beef kebab, garlic chips, bone marrow nihari

Thanks to the doings of chefs like Hemant Mathur, former chef of Michelin star restaurant Tulsi and Devi and currently a chef for the group, Fine Indian Dining; Vikas Khanna of Junoon, Avtar Walia of Tamarind and now Rohit Khattar, Indian cuisine which was once tucked away within the periphery of Queens, one of New York’s five boroughs, has penetrated into the epicenter of fine dining in Manhattan, where the critics are fierier than the meal itself.

dal gosht, lamb, lentils, cumin sunchokes

Dal gosht, lamb, lentils, cumin sunchokes

The menu at Indian Accent fuses the diversity of India on a platter therefore making it an ambrosial and nostalgic affair for the Indian American diners. The extensive menu offers patrons a three course meal for $75, four courses for $90 and finally, the chef’s tasting – a hearty eight course dinner for $110.

Granted this may appear a little exorbitant for a non-Michelin star and nonnative restaurant, but the chef’s glowing references forms a backdrop for the coming meals: Indian Accent in Delhi has bagged several awards including securing ninth place in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. This is in addition to taking the number one position as Delhi’s best restaurant according to TripAdvisor. Furthermore, according to theworlds50best, Indian Accent (Delhi) has been ranked 77 in the world, which in New York City terms, translates to a grade higher than restaurants Daniel and Masa.

sweet potato shakarkandi, kohlrabi, crispy okra

Sweet potato shakarkandi, kohlrabi, crispy okra

Indian Accent in midtown Manhattan poses the same aptitude as its counterpart, chiefly because Chef Mehrotra merely embellished the wheel instead of reinventing it. The menu features the timeless classics including the paneers (soft cheese) and the vindaloos (Indian curry) but, now, it’s teamed with luxury contemporary items such as fois gras and quinoa, which is what makes it, cutting edge.  The angelic flow of dishes from start to finish captures the spices and tenderness from East to West, specifically from New Delhi to New York. Warranting this is the admission of New York’s favorite eats into the menu – pastrami and beef.

Although the combination of prix fixe, pricey and fine dining, points to pomposity, the restaurant insulates the lavishness to the plate-level. Food is dished out with utmost care where even the smallest details such as trimming and frills are given equal priority while the flavors capture the essence of the four corners of India thus tricking the eyes and treating the tongue.

Chef Mehrotra’s inspiration for preparing the dishes comes from the road-up. The chaat (North Indian savory snack) which was paired with a dry Madeira for example, is the first item to feature on the menu. This crunchy flavor packed snack which is usually sold by street vendors in India, has been overhauled and spun to make even a road-side snack look like an elegant work of art whist retaining the elemental crunchy tangy mini-fireworks characteristic.

paper roast dosa wild mushrooms, black truffles, water chestnuts

Paper roast dosa, wild mushrooms, black truffles, water chestnuts

The same applies to the paper roast dosa (fermented crepe). Dosas are one of the most popular items in the South Indian cuisine but despite the innumerous fillings people have experimented with, none would ever have imagined that water chestnuts would actually enliven the dated dish. The restaurant is famous for its kulchas (leavened bread), which comes in a variety of assortments namely; saag paneer, butter chicken, smoked bacon, pastrami and wild mushroom. Every item on the menu forked over modern scrumptious Indian eats but never tipped over the traditional intricacies of Indian cooking.

The common perception that wine paired with Indian cuisine equals disaster is finally and thankfully become a deception – the chef’s tasting pairings includes wines from Italy, Germany and Spain, which ultimately accents the Indian-ness.

makhan malai, saffron milk, rose petal jaggery brittle, almonds

Makhan malai, saffron milk, rose petal jaggery brittle, almonds

The dessert proved the chef’s mastery. The makhan malai saffron milk, rose petal jaggery brittle and almonds in particular, was an absolute hit. The texture of the frothy milk cream base with the crunchiness of the almonds and jaggery (sugarcane) and topped with bright pink flower petals is divinely delicious and an eye-opening experience – maybe this is where metaphors like “save the best for the last” originate.

The dynamic duo, restaurateur and chef, have successfully managed to encapsulate the tale of two cities on the dinner table. Truly, the crusade from farm to fork has never been so enthralling.

Photo credit: Christopher Villano

Indian Accent
123 West 56th Street