Can you believe that the Indigo Deli turned 10 on June 30, 2015? For most Mumbai foodies, this one is an old faithful that you just keep going back to, despite so many exciting and enterprising newbies on the block.
Do you remember / When we fell in love / We were young and innocent then / Do you remember how it all began? The lyrics from Michael Jackson’s Remember the Time? may predate the Indigo Deli by more than a decade, but they’re just so right in encapsulating the feel of this foodie haven that took the city by surprise and had us falling in love with it.
Mumbai in 2005 did have a developed food scene but this was a time that had restaurants and cafes very clearly demarcated by fine dining or casual menu options. The Deli was cleverly designed to be the cool catchment area between the two extremes. Rahul and Malini Akerkar, who then spearheaded deGustibus Hospitality, the maverick company that had given shape to the iconic Indigo and re-written the rules of fine gastronomy in Mumbai, picked the perfect man for the job. Chef Jaydeep Mukherji (fondly known as Chef JD), with stints at the Taj’s Zodiac Grill and posh cruise liners, understood modern cuisine and the mindset of the much-travelled Mumbaikar. Together, they created a menu that comprised absolute comfort food which also had the bells and whistles that made it classy enough to be desirable for the city’s well-heeled clientele.
“Chef Jaydeep Mukherji (fondly known as Chef JD), with stints at the Taj’s Zodiac Grill and posh cruise liners, understood modern cuisine and the mindset of the much-travelled Mumbaikar.”
Around this time, a whole lot of Mumbai boys and girls were coming back home to roost from abroad as there were plum jobs to be had locally. With them, they brought in a fresh global vibe and a certain culture of cool, where shorts were the new black and coffee-shops the new hangouts. Cultivated casual was the new currency (and still is!) even before the hipsters exchanged their Crocs for mismatched flip-flops. In this atmosphere, it was but natural that a designer deli would do well. And one that specialised in eggs, salads, pizzas and decadent desserts? But, of course! Besides, it was a ‘restaurant with retail’, where you could enjoy a meal and buy some traditional New York-style delicatessen yummies to take home too (gourmet cheeses and meats, wines, coffees, teas, pastas, baked goods, take-away salads, marinated meats and patés and even kitchenware, tableware and cookbooks).
A decade on, not much has changed. The original Deli at Colaba has now spawned six clones in other parts of the city and there’s even one in Delhi! The menu has largely stayed the same, although they do experiment a lot with daily specials, which often become customer favourites that have to be specially replicated. According to the award-winning Executive Chef JD, 10 years are unbelievably short if you are in the thick of things that drive you crazy, keep you up nights and let you have so much fun doing things that you thoroughly enjoy it all. The fact that he isn’t the slightest bit jaded comes through in the very fun capsule menu we were invited to sample in the run up to June 30th.
Check out their really fab celebratory video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MLqvo9UwHM
WHAT WE ATE
We tried the Black Forest Iced Tea on a hot day with a drizzle and it was just the right mix of refreshing and decadent – combining the tartness of real oolong tea and cherry juice with the lushness of cocoa, cinnamon and whipped cream surprisingly well.
The soups, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, were thick and hearty with fresh ingredients. The Roasted Mushroom & Thyme Cappuccino with Porcini Dust had a depth of flavour and a gravelly texture that made one think of a Jazz singer in a smoky dive. The non-veg Minestrone – Loaded & Unplugged, was just as thrilling, if not more so. It was really uplifted by the herbs and the lavish sprinkling of bacon strips and sausage bits.
The Slow-braised Pork Belly Benny with Caramelised Onions and a Bearnaise Sauce isn’t a stranger to Deli regulars. Not surprisingly, it’s part of the Breakfast Like a Boss menu which kicks off the celebrations. As are staples such as Banana, Oats and Honey with Yoghurt, Banana Shake and Pan Crepes and the popular Butter-poached Lobster.
Our favourite from the Food Truck Kitchen were the hot Churros, crisp on the outside and satisfyingly chunky on the inside. Paired with sour cream and a ‘wicked’ secret sauce, you could imagine yourself quite easily polishing off a basket of these on a cool, rainy day. The Waffle Sandwich with Crispy Chicken & Chimmichurri, tasty and deep-fried, from the same Eat Street-like menu, would be the perfect choice for a hungry someone heading back from playing a rough game of football in the rain!
We loved the unique Duck Burger that will feature in the Burger Off menu. The Peking Duck inspiration was evident in the confit duck leg with the perfectly done meat falling apart just right; the plum sauce with more than a hint of star anise; the coriander salad and the fluffy steamed open bao. Just as filling and messy as a regular burger! Another one to watch out for on this menu is the Caramelized Beer Onion and Three Cheese Burger. It literally melts in your mouth and has such a whammy of flavour that you just can’t get enough. Vegetarians will love the juicy Seared Tofu and Spicy Chick Pea and Potato burgers.
The desserts we tried weren’t quite as wonderful as our old Deli fave Dulce de Leche, but the Cupcake Slam Dunk (which Chef JD was still tinkering with) was certainly super celebratory. A fried red velvet cupcake, halved, topped with toasted s’mores and whipped cream and chocolate sauce and rainbow sprinkles and candied pecans… you certainly know it’s a birthday blast when THAT’s on the menu!
First published in LuxuryLaunches.com here: http://luxurylaunches.com/mumbai/ten-days-of-decadence-as-indigo-deli-turns-10/