With churma served on rocks from Dal Lake or delicious mango syrup in a form of egg yolk, Masala Library is a magic place for foodies. A review by Rashima Nagpal
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, an acclaimed food destination in Mumbai, is now attracting a lot of attention in Delhi with its latest outlet at Janpath. Even as we walked in during afternoon to check out the place, it was packed throughout. The restaurant is elegant and spacious. With this first impression, one gets an idea that the food would be sophisticated too. And so every plate was, and yet the one thing that seemed to underline the food experience was- the earthiness. Though the presentation of food items was exotic, it was a pleasant surprise to find flavours so warm and homely. The chef’s tasting menu is an amalgamation of cuisines within and around India. Available in both veg and non-veg versions, the nineteen-course menu presents traditional flavours with a modern twist.
In snacks you’d find, aamchi Mumbai’s bhajia made in edible charcoal (which was interestingly tasty), everybody’s favourite samosa; only deconstructed, bajre ki roti with home-made makkhan which they refer to as ‘farmer’s staple’, and many more comforting dishes.
Appetizers provide you choices of litti chokha, shrooms, pesto kebab, sweet potato kebab, kottu roti, roasted turai and for non-vegetarians they’d have chicken tikka, naga pork and braised mutton champ to choose from.
From veg mains, our personal favourite has been a plate of warm seasonal green saag with steamed gatte. However, they also have mushroom souffle, dhokla corn and dill curry, curry bread, and fermented pakodi dal as part of the main course choices. Mains in non-veg offer dishes like mizo stew black rice, tawa boti, pepper lamb, and radhuni sea bass and a few more.
Desserts menu includes bhappa doi, ashen kulfi, and a jalebi caviar- the signature dish at Masala Library.
Allow the pictures to do the talking:-
In egg-shaped ceramic containers, there’s a mango syrup and tender coconut emulsion inside which resemble egg yolk and egg white. The tiny shot is prepared through the method of reverse spherification. It’s refreshing.
Fritters made up of sorrel and onion served along with red pepper puree. The charcoal colour-which is the main element of the dish- is derived from the outer shell of coconut and is called edible activated charcoal. You’ll probably forget the usual bhajia after having this. Firstly, the concept almost blows your mind, and then the flavours will.
Presented on top of rocks specially brought in from the Dal Lake, the churma here is a chutney of walnut and radish in hung-curd, with crisp de-hydrated lotus-stem. Usual household elements brought together in yet another interesting way. The concept behind every dish actually made it all very special.
Delhi’s otherwise favourite samosas look no closer to these, but the flavour was only better. The outer shell has been baked and then spread with saunth and mint chutney. Mashed potatoes are topped with green almond, green peas and a butter cheese. After having one, you’ll feel like having more of these.
Madur is a place on the border of Mysore and Bangalore and that is where the vada got its name from. Petite vada made of lentils with a tiny bit of tomato chutney on the top, and tomato rasam flavoured with tamarind as the base. So you take the little vada in your mouth and then sip the rasam from the tube. And even in that tiny bite, you’ll find it utterly tasty and satisfying.
A bread made up of millet (bajra), onions and chilli served with home-made white butter. Burst of nostalgia in one bite.
An exotic combination of mushrooms tossed in cream and cheese with walnut and truffle dust on the side, chances are this won’t appeal you much after having an array of tangy Indian flavours.
We bet you’d have never had a litti chokha as interesting as this. One of the personal favourites, the litti is stuffed with mashed potatoes and a kasundi (mustard) curry on the side and an eggplant (baingan) carrier on the top. Their re-imagination of this Bihari dish is commendable in all ways.
For those who do not like turai/tori, you’d still like this. The plate comprises of a block of tori and green peas on a bed of saunth chutney and a crisp of dehydrated tori on the top.
A Sri Lankan delicacy in which a malabari flaky paratha is served with a vegetable korma on the base, and puffed rice on the top. This one would be rather unusual in taste, but not disappointing.
Served on a base of basil oil and crushed black-pepper and smoked tomato, it’s their version of the hara-bhara kebab with a parmesan crisp on top and some mint chutney. Mouth watering! As the flavours of parmesan cheese and the kebab and the chutney melt in your mouth, it is sure to satiate your soul.
Masala Library’s interpretation of tea: mushroom consommé in a kettle represents black tea, dehydrated mushrooms in a bowl represent tea leaves, another bowl of truffle oil crumbs represent tea and dairy. We thought it was a brilliant concept as you’ll actually sense an aroma of tea even when there’ll be no tea.
This cold delight will surely remind you of all your kala-khatta memories. Served as a palate cleanser, these are popsicles of Indian cranberry with rock-salt and chat masala. For me, this was the best kala-khatta ever.
A deconstructed corn lasagna with a corn and dill curry and sauted spinach on top.
Known as the star of Masala Library, this is jalebi in the form of a caviar on the bed of a pistachio rabri and a saffron air on the side. This is sure to rest all your sweet tooth cravings. This is food for the heart and soul basically.
The entire food experience at Masala Library ended with a show; a show of magic created by science and presented by Chef Valice. These cubes are very much hanging in the air, thanks to the technique called quantum levitation. Such a spellbound presentation of two little spheres of white chocolate is one of the restaurant’s ways to elevate a rather simple dish. Carefully crafted and designed, the chef’s tasting menu is a great experience. There’s more to it than just food.
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