Pikkle, Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi: Modern Indian-Asian Bistro

Pikkle methinks…tickles me pink

( how great food brings out the bad poet in me!)

It was slightly more than two years ago when I landed up in Lantern Kitchen & Bar which I had never heard of before and was simply blown away by the awesome food there – truly a hidden paradise run by two brothers Suneet and Jasneet Sahni as I had eulogised (https://www.indianfoodfreak.com/2016/05/02/lantern-kitchen-and-bar-delhi/). Therefore, when I received an invite to their soon to be launched PIKKLE restaurant, I was more than glad to accept!

When my friend and I reached the busy Pusa road and were wondering where to park the car, we were told by the Pikkle staff that they have valet parking. The covered porch on the approach to the restaurant, which is on the first floor, is through a beautiful green canopy of creepers growing on the ceiling. The staff received us and escorted us to the lift leading to the restaurant. On entering the restaurant, we see this larger than life Panda welcoming us with open arms which looked more like Shahrukh Khan’s signature step with open arms. I suspect this will become a selfie spot and a hangout place for kids visiting with family.

The name Pikkle was chosen for this pan Asian cum modern Indian restaurant as pickles form the soul of all the food made there. Pickles made in-house are being used extensively in almost all their dishes – Asian as well as Indian. They are making around 10-12 in-house pickles which are not only being canned but also sealed in tubes there itself. The best part is that some of their pickles are also being retailed there.

The décor of the place is both chic and quirky. The interiors are done up in vibrant green colour which symbolizes growth, harmony and freshness and are very pleasing to the eye. There are two huge trees of life (symbols of a fresh start in life, positive energy, good health and a bright future) on either end of the huge 250 seater restaurant. The lighting is so done on the tree that it appears that it is throbbing like a heart. The seating is plush with velvet used extensively, hence very comfortable. The place is huge and spacious with small individual seating areas. While a bar adorns one breadth of the restaurant, there is also a DJ console, a live entertainment stage with a curtain, a live sushi bar and some limited outside seating (also the smoking area).

I had gone there with high expectations (being a fan of their food in Lantern) and they not only met them but exceeded them. Now I’m going to try and take you through my memorable lunch which may make it difficult for someone to decide as to which cuisine (Asian or Indian) Pikkle is doing better.

Amuse bouche was a trio of in house jams which came canned in mini jars. They were black garlic jam, cucumber jam and pumpkin jam served with fresh lavaash. It was difficult to get enough of the jams though my favourite was black garlic jam made from actual black garlic (an expensive ingredient not easily available off the shelf). My palate was given a peep into the treat it was going to further receive.

Pikkle Signature Salad – raw mango, carrots, kiwi, lettuce, cucumber, pickled vegetables, truffle cream, sesame, nuts and babuar are all dressed beautifully in a plum pickle. A vegetarian salad with crunch, tartness and sweetness from the plum jam was all one could ask for in a salad.

Mame Nori Roll – this sushi is for all those vegetarians who have a misconception about Nori sheets (they are actually edible seaweed and very vegetarian). Pikkle at  is using soya sheets especially imported from Japan, black rice from north-east India, Philladelphia cheese, steamed asparagus, tanuki crisp, tempura flakes, basil mayo and plum sauce to put together this very healthy sushi that packs a flavour bomb. There are contrasting textures – cheese, mayo and plum sauce all at play together to make it awesome.

Combination Sushi – while tuna fish came rolled with white rice, crabstick, mayo and bonito, salmon came wrapped with black rice, crabstick and mayo. Both of them were equally enjoyable California sushis with a welcome addition of salmon and tuna.

Smoked Corn Soup – this is an innovative take on the sweet corn soup and takes it to another level at Pikkle. Sriracha chili paste is brushed on the inside of the soup bowl, smoked corn and fresh popcorn served in the bowl and the creamy, sweet corn soup poured from top into the bowl. The sweetness of the corn, the hit from the sriracha, the smokiness from the smoked corn and the popcorn all take this comfort soup to a gourmet level.

Truffle Cream Edamame Dumpling – Edamame are young soya in a pod which are had boiled or steamed and have a nice bite to them. In these dumplings their paste is used which texturally did nothing for my taste buds.

Prawn Suimui – these green coloured crystal dumplings looked so pretty. They were so transparent that I could see the juice from the prawn filling it. On entering the mouth, they just exploded filling the mouth with the juices from the prawn. Definitely one of the best that I’ve had at Pikkle

Chicken Chili Oil Dumpling – the transparent covering could again not hide the juices from the chicken trapped inside the dim sum just waiting to be released in the mouth. It came embedded on coarsely ground chili oil. Another dumpling you could make a meal out of.

Homemade Papad Sampler – this dish is on the menu for all those people who love to nibble on papad with their drinks. They have – hold your horses ! – made Thai red curry, yellow curry, green curry and chili flake and garlic flavoured in-house papads. Then they have made two accompanying wasabi malai and tomato pickle cream, put in tubes and sealed them. I could easily have had these all through the meal.

Sous Vide Salmon Tikka with Smoked Yoghurt – another surprise here was that they are also making their own prawn crackers served as a textural contrast with the salmon tikka. What an absolute celebration of salmon this was. Melt in the mouth salmon enveloped by their pickle marinade and complimented so very beautifully with the smoked yoghurt. The gentle flavour of the salmon was still shining through. Full marks to the team for thinking out of the box.

Safed Haleem with Sago Fritters – the first flavour you get is of ghee, then the rich dalia and mutton haleem and those aromatic whole spices used in the preparation. Then this creamy delight is sitting on top of a crisp sago fritter and activated charcoal tulie. Totally heavenly indulgence if you ask me. Who would have thought of serving a main course meal as a starter.

Dum ki Pasliyan – mutton ribs are cooked on dum with whole spices and all its juices collected and finished with some grainy mustard and their jam. This jus was simply a class apart. I told them to start bottling the jus and I’d be their first customer. The meat could easily be fingered off the bone and was full of flavour but I was simply drinking the jus along. A not to be missed dish.

Achari Pork Ribs – they are doing pork in two different ways – Asian and Indian. They more than excelled on their Indian take on the pork. Achari masala is used to marinate these chunky ribs and it’s a riot of familiar flavours in your mouth along with the goodness of pork. I simply loved it and have to go back to try the Asian version of the pork belly.

Udon Vegetable Noodles and Thai Veg Red Curry – both these dishes were so beautifully executed. Hardly anyone can get them right. The Udon noodles were tossed just like the Pad Thai noodles and packed all the right balance of spicy, sweet and sour flavours. The red Thai curry was again so good but just a tad bit sweet for me. I loved them so much that only later I realized that both were vegetarian dishes.

Modern Egg Curry – at first look, I was so mesmerized with the delicate cylinders and could not guess what the dish was. Sous vide egg white cylindrical rolls and egg yellow done separately while the curry sauce is poured from a small jar on the serving dish. Maybe this dish has its origin from the famous omelette curry from Bengal. Enjoyed this with chili, garlic naan and fruit and nut naan.

Betel Nut Popsicle was served with pop rocks and a crunchy crumble to finish the meal on a sweet note. A paan chocobar dusted with popping grains was so much fun to eat.

The Sahni brothers’ enthusiasm about each dish is so very infectious and I could so connect with it. They have treated each dish as their baby, racking their brains over how to make each dish different without taking anything away from it and to add to the flavour of the dish. This is a huge challenge and speaks volumes for their creativity and hard work. There is no drama of smoke or bubbles coming out of the food but is simply excellent food plated artistically making the whole experience so very beautiful.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Food: 4.75 | Ambience: 4.5 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.5

Meal for Two: Rs 2000  | Wheel Chair Friendly: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes

Address: Pikkle 1st floor, 25 B, Pusa Road, Block 11, Old Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi 110005 | Phone: 08470054321

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