By: Shruti Vairagkar (LT Howden)
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, the latest fine dining restaurant to have opened its doors to Delhi has created quite the buzz! The flagship was started in Mumbai in 2013 has been brought to Delhi by Zorawar Kalra, son of Jiggs Kalra who is famously known as ‘Czar of Indian Cuisine.’
The building which housed the Ferrari showroom on Janpath now houses this restaurant. The interior and exterior of the restaurant is clean-cut, minimalistic, elegant, and needless to say classy. Well manicured lawns and pots of herbs greet you as you hand over your car keys for valet parking. On entering, you are greeted in the foyer which shares its space with back of the bar. An imposing structure done in rose gold, it acts as shield against the outside filtering the light. The interiors are done up in shades of grey, rose gold, and bone white. The sparsely decorated, no fuss décor allows the food to speak for itself.
The menu has a healthy mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, although the number of dishes listed in each may disappoint some. But then again, that’s the thing about fine dining. The range may be low but the food is otherwise impeccable.
Mr Kalra and his team have certainly researched the length and breadth of India for the unique tastes and flavours it combining with modern methods of preparing food. It is one of the few restaurants which boasts of molecular gastronomy being inculcated in its preparation.
Being vegetarian, we had a few starters before moving on to the main course. One of the starters was made of sweet potato with a core of goat’s cheese. The flavors of sweet and savoury were delicately balanced with neither overwhelming the other.
The kebabs had a delicate outer crust which crumbled at the slightest touch of the knife and melted in the mouth. We had a similar experience with the main course and desserts.
Local flavours have been integrated such that they provide a lovely blend of old with the new. The kulfi was prepared with candied nuts and ash of the banana leaf and was grey in colour – seems unpleasant but it was creamy and delicious!
The highlight of the meal was a little act by one of chefs involving magnets, semi-conductors, and liquid nitrogen! Some physics was at play while achieving what is best captured by the photo below. (The ball on the top is a white chocolate casing filled with some lime.)
The servers at Masala Library are ever attentive, open to feedback (we expressed our disappointment with one of the dishes and we were served with another one from the menu which matched our expectations!), and knowledgeable about the menu. It is suggested that one share with their server what kind of food you like in terms of which taste you are partial to, food allergies and preferences. This will help them in suggesting what can be ordered and optimize your experience.
Overall, the restaurant is one of those places which can be reserved for occasions which call for a celebration. It is, of course a little pricey with a meal for two averaging at Rs.4000/-. And as suggested one the first page of the menu, the Chef’s Tasting Menu may be the best way to enjoy the offerings of Masala Library.