The ‘New Indian Diners’, as I had argued in my last column, are typically below 35, so their idea of India was shaped as they grew out of their diapers in the tumultuous years that followed the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, and are recent migrants from small-town India with the burning urge to end the hegemony of the entitled class of public school/convent-educated young men and women — the ‘Khan Market Gang’.
The new Indians are proud to converse in Hindi (the stronger the Bhojpuri accent, the better) and observe karva chauth (and other such arcane rituals), even as they expend their growing disposable income on foreign travel, branded luxuries, gin cocktails and dining out — not in stuffy ‘European’ restaurants, but at hangouts where they can just be themselves and indulge their senses without getting intimidated by either the food or the setting.
The re-invented La Roca — has understood this generation’s pulse and is not holding back its aces in its bid to establish its pole position in the increasingly crowded New Delhi Aerocity, where its Worldmark 1 neighbours include Daryaganj; Kampai; Tappa from Punjab Grill; and Dragonfly.
La Roca has understood the changed diner demographics. (Photo: Facebook/La Roca)
And as if this pressure cooker weren’t enough, there’s a food court right opposite La Roca serving low-cost popular dishes and playing Sanjeev Kapoor’s Food Food channel on a giant screen. As the head chef of La Roca, and one of the city’s hidden gems, Arvind Singhal, jokes, he keeps getting ideas from the recipes aired on the food channel.
La Roca, despite the hothouse in which it operates, has all the elements of a winner: Global comfort food, intelligently collated music, and a mood that keeps changing with the progress of the day — so, you could be having a business lunch or kitty party during the day, a sundowner with friends over a new generation of cocktails that delves deep into the science of ingredients coming together, or a high-octane after-party in an ambience transformed by visual mapping on the ceiling. The food, especially, has evolved since Singhal took charge.
It is truly global comfort food, where the creative boundaries are stretched not for the sake of being inventive, but to explore the unknown frontiers of taste. In the Tuna Tartare, for instance, the yellowfin morsels are marinated in tangy mustard; the tacos come stuffed with either lamb khurchan, or chicken smothered in Japanese barbecue sauce (tonkatsu); pizzas have made way for the Turkish pide (pee-day) and I love the one that is topped up with juicy chicken morsels and jalapeno peppers.
The innovative menu fuses the best of East and West. (Photo: Facebook/La Roca)
The other winners are the Calamari Bhel (squid rings have never tasted better!), Salmon on Skewers marinated with kasundi (Bengali mustard) and chillies, and Paneer Shashlik, where the paneer cubes are dusted with crumbled nachos for an interplay of textures, served with a Chipotle-infused garlic olive aioli and chopped apple and celery in salad dressing. The competing flavours sit well with each other.
Among the ‘large’ and ‘sharing plates’, which have been designed for shared dining, my favourites are the Himalayan Pepper-Garlic Chicken (butter chicken ‘re-imagined’ with timur and garlic), biryani cooked with the shawarma spice mix, and the whole-roasted chicken marinated with kaffir lime and lemongrass.
Yes, vegetarians may find that they are left with limited choice, but if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll bless La Roca for its Tres Leches, Mille-Feuille, and scrumptious peanut butter ice-cream served with berry jam.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)