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Fresh, frosty and snowy

Chef Sumit Batra plays around with this distinct taste -- Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Chef Sumit Batra plays around with this distinct taste -- Photo: Murali Kumar K.  

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Sumit Batra yokes together simple ingredients with new-age techniques to bring out curious tastes

The soothing green liquid in a tiny white tasting cup is brimming with promise – of the goodness of vegetables, ridding the guilt of all the unhealthy eating we tend to do, and of the simplicity of taste. Even then, the avocado gazpacho with cucumber is a far more flavoursome surprise than expected. After all you don’t expect cold soups to do much for your soul.

But this one, laced with a hint of spring onions, hits that comfort spot your tastebuds have been seeking. Senior sous chef at The Oberoi, Sumit Batra has made his subtle entry on Bengaluru’s gastronomic scene launching his food philosophy with “A Sum-mit of Good Food’, his signature tasting menu. It’s good, all that he’s talking of – using fresh local produce, changing the menu with the season, balancing simplicity of ingredients with complex and new age culinary technique and treatment.

“I went out into the market and found some lovely carrots. So I decided to make this carrot tartare,” says Sumit, presenting a little orange roundel, held together with carrot mayonnaise, and peppered with crunchy bits of green apple and onion – the vegetarian answer to the traditional beef tartare. Vegans will surely be tucking away a mental note to make carrot mayonnaise some time in the future, when you nibble your way through barely cooked carrots. I’m not a fan of cooked carrots so this texture is appealing, as is the taste, offset by crunchy sunflower and caraway seeds.

In between courses, Sumit recalls a part of his life in the Mecca of experimental food – New York City. He joined the Michelin star winning restaurant Nomad, working with acclaimed chefs James J. Kent and Daniel Humm. The best things he learnt there? “I learnt about knives and sharpening them. I’ve spent most of my savings on them and every month added tools to my kit. I have five sharpening stones for my knives,” he says as we listen in rapt attention. He speaks of how a Michelin experience simply changes your perspective of food, beginning with something as simple as how you cut your vegetables.

Next comes the tomato with greens, burrata and rye, served with tomato frost – there’s the molecular gastronomy technique and new age textures we were talking about – that squeezes out the essence of the tomato and plays it on your tongue anew. It’s all yoked together with a drizzle of chiveil. Nothing, absolutely nothing can go wrong when you put together cherry tomatoes with soft creamy cheese. And it is here that Sumit Batra takes off on how he’s trying to play with the umami taste – the fifth of the tastes we perceive. It’s the savoury melting thread that binds together this whole presentation of his, whether it’s lamb with squash, quinoa and carrot miso puree, oysters, or sea bass with nori mushroom puree, green peas and basil nage or cauliflower with raisin vinaigrette.

It plays around with the feel the umami taste leaves on your tongue. “Oyster is always served in an acidic dressing. So we made a dressing with champagne vinegar and liquid nitrogen so it feels like snow!” Any use of acid gives a fresh-mouth feel, he points out.

The heady champagne sorbet comes as a welcome palate cleanser before the next course -- zucchini grilled with caponata, served with fritters and garlic yoghurt. The bitter-sweet aubergine caponata with plumpy juicy raisins thrown in sits nestled in a little boat of grilled zucchini. But it’s the tempura-bound grated zucchini fritters that are the show stealers. Topped off with garlic yoghurt, the chewy goodness of fried vegetable warm the cockles of your heart.

And what better way to round off a meal than with an Espresso affogato – the perfect coming together of coffee, vanilla bean ice cream with the crunch of honey crisps.

The promotion, with a separate veg and non-veg menu is on at The Oberoi’s Le Jardin for dinner till June 24 and is priced Rs. 1,975 (plus taxes). Call 25585858.



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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 4:01:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Fresh-frosty-and-snowy/article14425924.ece

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