Originally from a farming family in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, life has come a full circle for Chef Shyam Dhar Rai. The first from his kin to step out of his birth state, Rai spent half a decade working in the US before returning to his home country where he now heads a restaurant that traces its food back to the farm.
Known for its farm-to-fork cuisine, Pluck at the Pullman New Delhi gets its name from their tradition of 'plucking' the freshest ingredients from an in-house 5,000-square feet kitchen garden. Lettuce, spinach, red pepper, brinjal, lady’s finger and herbs like mint, cilantro, thyme, carrom seeds, basil, oregano, lemongrass, chillies, parsley—are all grown in this chemical-free haven located in the heart of the hotel. Fruit trees line the kitchen garden and lend shade to the smaller plants.
“In winter we grow a variety of edible flowers that we use on all our dishes as well as desserts,” says Chef Ajay Anand, Director of Cuisine, Pullman and Novotel New Delhi. While both kitchens reflect Anand's inimitable stamp, Rai has lent his touch by introducing a range of modern Indian and modern European menus at the all-day dining restaurant, Pluck. Regulars will be happy to know that there are 28 new dishes on the menu.
A demo tour of the kitchen garden was followed by a four-course meal that comprised of lobster bisque, amaranth salad, lamb shank with barley pulao, concluded by a chocolate and orange dessert.
The lobster bisque is a luscious and flavourful broth, a light start to the meal followed by the amaranth salad which showcases three preparations of the indigenous plant—boiled, fried and crisp. However, the mains stole the show. The lamb shank is dusted with podi masala and served on a comforting, khichdi-like bed of barley pulao topped with a dal makhani crisp. Although the presentation is ultra-modern, the flavours are reminiscent of an Indian home-cooked meal. Similarly, the sepu vadi (a dish that you’re unlikely to find in any other five-star hotel) is served with drumstick salsa and couscous upma. “I got this recipe from a Kumaoni kitchen executive’s mother,” recalls Rai proudly. While Rai has tweaked the borrowed recipe by giving it a progressive look, the dish successfully captures the essence of the food at Pluck.
Pluck, Pullman New Delhi, Aerocity
6:30 am to 11:30 pm
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