I was happy and excited to have received an invite to meet the celebrity Chef, Kunal Kapoor. It was not only an opportunity to meet a Masterchef but also to savour the dishes he had churned out especially for us.
Diya, is a fine dine Indian cuisine restaurant at Leela Kimpinski and offers a soul soothing ambience. The décor was stylish in an understated tone. Natural lights from wall-to-wall high windows complimented the lights from beautiful hanging lamps. The relaxing sound of water from fountain at the center of restaurant had a calming effect.
As we settled, Chef Kunal along with Executive Chef Thomas Figovc gave us a warm welcome and shared their experiences. Kunal was at his charming best and quoted anecdotes from Masterchef Season-1 and how he chose cooking as his profession. Prawn curry in south Indian style cooked in front of us by Chef Kunal, got two thumbs up for it’s authentic taste.
We also met First runner up of Masterchef India season One – Jayanandan Bhaskar, who is now a proud chef at The Leela.
For starters, we hadBaba Ghanoush which was amazingly soft, tender, juicy and exploded with multiple flavours in the mouth.
Then came ‘Punjabi’ style Bruschetta which is minced mutton cooked over the Indian tawa with diced liver and kidney. It went extremely well with crunchy bread as a base.
Soon after we were offered Kebab-e-Barq and Galauti Kebab. Both were incredulously delicious. The Galauti was among the best I have had. It didn’t need any reason to melt in the mouth. The chicken kebab was soft and tender and rightly spiced with the grilled onions enhancing it’s taste further.
|Kebab-e-Barq & Galauti Kebab|
|From left – Mushroom tikka, Veg Kebab, Fish Tikka, Lotus Stem Fries,Mutton ke Lachhe and Boti Kebab at center|
With so many flavors dancing in front of a foodie, It was heaven on earth. Every piece was unique in it’s taste and aroma.
In the main course, we were served Chicken curry which had Tandoori cooked chicken tossed with ground onion and tomato masala. Mutton curry which was Mutton shanks cooked in browned garlic and cashew, flavoured with ‘pathar ke phool’. The gravy in both the non-veg dishes was delicious and the meat was tender. Among the vegetarian fare, Spinach tossed with garlic & onion and subzi of Cauliflower and Potato was tangy and Black lentil cooked overnight with tomato, butter and cream was a bit heavy but a delight to eat.
Masterchef Kunal also cooked ‘Lucknawi’ Murg Dum Biryani for us. I am a Biryani fan and can tell from a good Biryani from an average one. But this one was one of the outstanding ones I ever had. Not only it looked beautiful, the aroma was exquisite and the long grain rice tasted excellent with of all the flavours that are suppose to be there in a good Biryani. The meat was tender, and raita was served and smooth in texture. The whole dish was soul satisfying.
Chef Kunal shared that he prepared all the above cuisines using Canola Oil, which is one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world… even healthier than well accepted Olive oil! For more information on Canola Oil, refer to the link Canolainfo.org
Finally, it was time for dessert. And Masterchef Kunal introduced a fusion twist to his desserts. We had a Green apple and cinnamon flavoured Srikhand, a Malpua, Coffee liquor flavoured Chenna Payesh and finally Mandarin zest scented Phirni. Each dessert superseded another in taste. The combination of using an Orange in Phirni blew my mind and surprisingly it tasted nice. However, for me the Chenna Payesh stood out for it was soft, rightly sweet and aptly liquored to deliver the winning punch for itself.
The whole lunch was an experience extraordinaire. I am sure that with his natural charm, skills and knowledge, Masterchef Kunal is sure to make Diya another feather in his cap and we will have another successful season of Masterchef India season-2.