In a line: A fine dining restaurant serving avant-garde culinary experience like none other.
Price for two: Rs. 5000(approx)
Location: 21 A, Near Le Meridian,Janpath, New Delhi
Timings: 7:00 pm- 1:00 am(Two batches for Chef’s tasting menu: 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm)
Must haves: Galauti kebab with sheermal, Naga Pork, charcoal bhajiya, mushroom chai, jalebi caviar, chocolate
Out of the box thinking is the mantra for success in order to ensure sustained interest of the public and this holds true for the food industry where what is served and how it is served also makes a huge impact to the success of the business. Taking this into purview, Jiggs Kalra’s son, Zarovar Kalra, brought to us, Masala Library. A place which has stamped the hearts of many in Mumbai, Masala Library is finally here in Delhi to offer its patrons, not just food, but an experience, which would be so vividly etched in a food connoisseurs heart, that a few visits might simply be inadequate.
Located on Janpath Road, right next to Le Meridien, Masala Library stands out with it’s plush white and gold exterior. Step in and you’ll be greeted by a glass wall that is studded with all the alcohol that you could ask or think of. The minimalistic interiors are marked by crisp white table runners and grey curtains, that lend a clean and fresh character to the space. The gigantic glass chandelier in the middle of the restaurant adds on to the grandeur of this restaurant.
With seating of 60 people and a kitchen that is being handled by 25 chefs, Masala Library is all set to take us across a one-of-a-kind gastronomical journey across the original geographical landscape of the country. Hence, the menu represents dishes from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives and India.The mark of progressive modern cooking is what lends authentic flavours combined with different techniques of cooking, like rotary evaporation and spherification et al.
Even though Masala Library offers a la carte menu, it is advisable to go in for the chef’s tasting menu that is fairly priced for the quality and class of food that it is serving(Rs. 2100 for vegetarian; Rs. 2300 for non-vegetarian; Rs. 2200 extra for 6 glasses of paired wine). The chef’s tasting menu comprises of 19 dishes, which are more or less bite sized, with each dish leaving you craving for more. Small as each dish may seem, in the end, you are guaranteed to feel full and not loaded. Be rest assured that the ride back home wouldn’t be a lethargic one.
Hence, without much deliberation, I acceded to dig into chef’s tasting menu and was rewarded for my choice in the form of 19 excellently conceptualised dishes, which were unique in their own decided decadence, paired with the best of wine possible to complement each one of them. The degustation began with the fake egg amuse bouche that had tender coconut as the egg white and mango pulp as the egg yolk, and progressed which an equally toothsome dish each time.
The deconstruction of samosa flew in as a thin baked oil-free cracker, that didn’t appear to be anywhere near to a samosa, but churned out to be exactly like one, the moment it bit into it. Nadir Churma, a lotus stem dish from kashmir, came atop a stone with radish and walnut chutney. The spiciness of the lotus stem was balanced with the yoghurt based chutney. Galauti kebab with sheermal came in as a pâté of galauti kebab over a fluffy sheermal and tasted much better than its authentic counterpart. Addition of a soup, in the form of mushroom consommé, or chai(as they put it), was an interesting culinary stop in this journey. The chai is made in front of you, using mushroom consommé as the base, dehydrated button mushrooms as the tea leaves and solidified truffle oil as the milk powder, and was the best that I’ve had so far.
Naga pork, though not prepared with the traditional ghost peppers, was a spicy and delicious affair with the melt-in-mouth meat coated with delicious spices and was topped with their home-grown micro greens. Radhuni sea bass with pui saag put me to seafood heaven with the morsel of flaky sea bass marinated in Bengali spices and topped with fried pui saag that gave it the crunch element. I found the jaipuri bhindi with hand pounded churma the most balanced dish of all, with the sweetness coming from churma, crunch coming from the bhindi and tanginess coming from the curry.
After finishing all the starters and mains, sweet surprises waited just around the culinary corner and came in the form of gorgeously decadent jalebi caviar with rabri and kesar foam. Unlike the original combination, this is a much lighter version and tasted much like the original, or even better. Asheen kulfi, made with ashes of banana stem, came in as a naturally grey coloured kulfi that was mildly sweet and had a beautiful smokey aftertaste. The levitating white chocolate balls are filled with raspberry coulis and have an explosion of the liquid fruit center.
The pièce de résistance came in as the customary chocolate dessert, named chocolate. There’s no mucking around with this dessert, its all about chocolate and is only for those who enjoy dark chocolate. Dark chocolate mousse, topped with glistening dark chocolate and 24 carat gold leaf, this dessert is what I would long to eat everyday, and this could be testified by the fact that I finished the whole plate all by myself.
Confession: Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra is an ideal place for a rendezvous over great food and drinks. With impeccable service, mellow background music, beautiful ambiance and delicious food, Masala Library checks all the right boxes when it comes to culinary wonders and is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.
Q. So is it worth the hype? Ans. Every bit of it.
Value for money: 4.5/5