Nimisserie's Wine Soiree with Sula Vineyards
It was almost exactly a year ago that Nimisserie opened its doors to the public. Along with a few other fellow food enthusiasts, I remember attending the opening day lunch on Christmas day. A year on, Chef Nimish Bhatia’s dream of changing the way Indian cuisine could be experienced continues to impress. What I like the most about Nimisserie is that every time I go there, it’s a new experience. With a reputation like his, Chef Nimish Bhatia could have chosen a more conventional path, but instead chooses to experiment, accept that things might not work out in terms of appeasing taste buds, learn from that and move on to crafting new dishes. It’s no wonder that Nimisserie received the 'Best Modern Indian Fine Dining' at the recent Times Food Awards. About a month ago, I was invited to the inaugural dinner of Nimisserie’s Wine Soiree, a seven-course dinner that has been specially designed to be paired with various wines from Sula. Taking his time to craft the menu, Chef Nimish delivered a completely new experience to pairing Indian food with wine.
Our evening began with a palate cleanser – a Potli Sack Pack of Feta Cheese and Burnt Garlic in a Melon Skin. The dish heroed the flavours of feta and made for a nice little change from the traditional watermelon and feta salad (that I thoroughly relish). Paired with the mildly sweet Sula Brut Tropicale, this was a good start to the evening. I’ll be upfront and state that I honestly can’t appreciate the nuances of a wine beyond ‘do I like this taste or not’, so please don’t expect me to be describing the same in great depth.
Keeping one of my favourite salads on the menu, we were served the Cherry Wood Smoked Salad with Prawn, Lavender, Marigold, Green Apple and Rocket Lettuce. This is the third time I’m having this salad but each time was with a small change to the ingredient. While in terms of texture, the prawn didn’t quite cut it for me (as opposed to the roasted chicken from the last time); the strength of this dish lies in the aroma and flavour. This was coupled with the Sula Sauvignon Blanc, whose slightly acerbic nature paired well with the salad. The wine is also supposed to pair perfectly with goat’s cheese.
Changing the confit around this time, we were served the Date and Duck Confit in a savoury cornetto shell. The contrasting flavours of sweet, salt and mild spice, hit all the right spots. However, the pairing with the Sula Chenin Blanc didn’t quite work for me. It was at this point I learnt a thing or two about why the Italian grapes would have worked in favour of India as opposed to the French grapes that were planted in vineyards here. It turns out that one of the reasons I didn’t quit enjoy the combination was that wines from French grapes don’t easily pair with spicy food. Hence, the mild spice in the dish offset the flavours of the wine. Something wine from Italian grapes would easily tackle. (PS – I used this bit of knowledge to have a rather intriguing conversation with a colleague from France the following week).
The next dish that was served was the big hit of the evening in my book. The Creamed Yellow Corn Soup with truffle foam and shaved dried mushrooms was an absolute riot of flavours. With strong aromas of truffle and corn hitting the nose, backed up by delicious earthy flavours, this dish was absolutely scrumptious. Unfortunately, the picture below doesn’t do justice.
The soup, which had everyone around me contemplating asking for another helping, was followed by the Chicken Phulka Taco. Presented in a manner that I’m still not able to make up mind on whether it was quirky or a bit over the top. The dish had two tiny phulkas with a filling of chicken kabab suspended from a clothes line using a clothes peg. It did take us a little time on how exactly we were going to eat this. While the phulka tacos themselves weren’t absolutely memorable in flavour, what augmented the flavour was the guava chutney. With a sweet and slightly spicy chutney to push the flavours of the chicken, the phulka tacos became quite enjoyable. Paired with the Sula Rose Zinfandel, a pleasing bright red fruity wine, the overall combination worked very well. The wine was definitely something I would probably buy at a store, and pair it with some nice tandoori food. Before we hit the main course, we had another palate cleanser – a rather strong Lemon Jasmine Chuski.
For the main course, I chose the Dum Nalli with Mughal Onion sauce with Roomali Roti. The dish looked rather elaborate with a broken teapot holding the dum nalli, the sauce presented in an adorable little Hawkins cooker and the roomali roti served in a marble box. While the combination was relatively simple and traditional, the presentation was different. The meat was cooked splendidly well and fell of the bone with almost no effort, making what could have been a rather messy dish a joy to eat. The onion sauce was the kind that made you want to eat more just on its own. I’ll admit that I didn’t pay too much attention to how the Sula Dindori Shiraz paired with the dish because the meat and the sauce were dominating all my taste buds
.Dessert was a Champagne Sapphire with Almond Soil and Lavender Phirni. While the lavender phirni was spot on in terms of aroma and flavours, the champagne sapphire didn’t do anything for the texture or the flavour of the dish. Something that Chef Nimish admitted was an experiment that needed reformulating. The wine that was paired, the Sula Late Harvest Chenin Blanc was a lovely combination as the flavours helped boost the overall experience of the dessert. We had a surprise dish served that evening, a mango ice cream with dry ice, something that was gobbled down almost as quickly as it was served.
The Wine Soiree with Nimisserie and Sula will happen on the last Friday of each month. Priced at INR 1950++, the seven course meal perfectly paired with wine is an experience worth investing on. Kudos to Chef Nimish for once again introducing everyone to something new and working with the team at Sula to consciously pair their array of wines with the flavours of each dish.