While Asian cuisines like Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Thai and Chinese have been hotbeds of innovation over the last few years, in the absence of Tabla (and with the exception of Junoon), Indian fare has remained largely relegated to Murray (Curry) Hill. But in just the last year, Indian cooking has begun to muscle its way into the spotlight, with the appearance of two Chipotle-style canteens (Indikitch and Inday) and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s the unusual introduction of Calcutta’s Jewish-inspired dishes at Haldi, the critically-acclaimed debut of Babu Ji, the impending opening of Pondicheri, from a Houston-based, James Beard Award-nominated chef, and most notably, the splashy unveiling of Indian Accent, an outpost of New Delhi’s most renowned, high-end restaurant.
Located in the Le Parker Meridien hotel, the Director of Operations is Eleven Madison Park alum, Paul Downie, and the kitchen’s helmed by celebrated chef Manish Mehrotra, who also runs the flagship. Known for marrying global ingredients and refined techniques with authentic Indian flavors, Mehotra’s trademark dishes include Kulchas (a type of leavened bread) stuffed with classic stews like saag paneer and butter chicken, as well as Sweet Pickle Ribs with sundried mango, Baby Squid with crispy rice and everything chutney, Pepper Roast Dosa with black truffles, wild mushrooms and water chestnuts, and Silken Tofu Kofta (meatballs) in a bottle gourd curry poured over quinoa pulao (pilaf); any of which can be enjoyed a la carte, or as part of a set tasting menu comprising seven courses.
While New York’s existing Indian restaurants are hardly known for desserts, that’s definitely not the case at the luxurious Midtown newcomer, which offers striking compositions such as Makhan Malai, an intensely creamy pudding made with saffron milk and crowned with rose petal jaggery brittle, and Punjabi Milk Fudge Treacle Tart, paired with vanilla bean ice cream. And while Curry Hill institutions tend to draw the line at Spiked Lassis and Mango Martinis, Indian Accent’s beverage program more than holds its own with New York’s other fine dining eateries, with a 300-bottle wine list that spans the globe, and cocktails made with infusions from local Indian spice shops.
So forget your standard to-go order of Garlic Naan and Chicken Tikka, because thanks to elevated, artful spots like Indian Accent, the cuisine is undergoing a full-on gastronomic revolution.