The way India eats is changing with more and more chefs returning back to the roots and promoting regional cuisine and the concept of farm to table. The audience is clearly warming up to these concepts and as mentioned in one of my previous articles, eating local will never go out of trend. At the end of the day it is about reinventing by going back to your own roots, to understand your own cuisine and put it on the pedestal it deserved to be on.
On a recent trip to Delhi, I had the opportunity to visit AnnaMaya – a restaurant that has been making waves in the NCR. Set in Andaz, Delhi, AnnaMaya pays homage and worships the grain. While Andaz itself is adding a new dimension of casual, chic demeanour to what once was austere, black-suited fine dining, AnnaMaya takes it a level further with its eclectic, colourful decor, its locally-sourced, artisanal, organic produce that you can buy to support local organic farmers, and a menu built around these ingredients that provide both the indulgences of rich, five-star dining, and a diet-conscious palate to suit healthy eating. Add to that its delightfully amiable staff and round-the-clock working hours, and AnnaMaya makes for one of the most interesting and unique dining experiences that you can have among fine-dining places in all of the National Capital Region. In keeping with the informal vibe, the crockery used is mismatched Khurja pottery ware in its characteristic vibrant colours and patterns.
AnnaMaya’s motto – “Eat Mindful. Shop Artisanal. Raise Awareness” is something that they live up to from the moment you step a foot in their restaurant. From the service staff to the chefs, everyone is thorough with their homework on this philosophy that they follow and live up to. The foodhall has specialties inspired by the flavours and diversity of India, made with native artisanal ingredients.
“AnnaMaya Delhi exists to help the indigenous neighbourhood through menus revolving around locally sourced organic artisanal products, for they must be made in India and empower people and places. Great food is just an added bonus. This is our way of breaking stereotypes that revolve around certain health foods – that healthy food is usually not tasty.”
I was handed over the menu to place my orders but instead, but I decided to leave it all to Chef Kapil Chauhan to entice me with his culinary creations. We started off with two salads – one lemony millet salad and one with sour dough croutons and roughly diced vegetables, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with himalayan rock salt. I have to say that I am not someone who is fond of salads, but these were delightful. You can also find the recipe for them here.
We moved on to appetisers, where Chef served us goat cheese paneer tikka, amaranth bun-tikki and charred beetroot with honey drizzle. While the bun-tikki was quite a revelation with it’s unique amaranth twist, it was the simple charred beetroot that really had me slipping into a “food heaven.” The way a simple vegetable was roasted and then only drizzled with honey and lime, and the natural flavours of it were allowed to take over, was just beautiful. I’d recommend this to everyone who goes to AnnaMaya.
We finished our meal with a warm bowl of millet khichdi and spicy mango curry and red rice. Once again, the mango curry with its coconut base was delightful and a must have. All the dishes had a lightness of touch, where the flavours of the natural ingredients were not overwhelmed with spices and seasonings.
In times when more and more people are opting for mindful eating, AnnaMaya comes as a breath of fresh air in luxury property, where the focus is on the audience who wishes to indulge, but consciously. Not only has the concept been adopted, it has been implemented fabulously. Adding to that is the overall jovial nature of the place, which makes you feel relaxed and light-hearted, instead of having any compulsion to keep up with any form of austerity. This is fine dining with a twist, bordering on being unorthodox, and yet not too different to retain familiarity.