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A Former Calcuttan Lures Shaun Kenworthy To Taste Edgy Modern Indian Cooking In Thailand

I think it’s been around a year since I first wrote about my old friend Gaggan, that Calcutta lad who went to El Bulli and turned up in Thailand to open his own restaurant named after himself. Modern Indian as he calls it, but much more modern than most post-modernists would agree! And since Gaggan opened its doors, around 19 months ago, there has been a barrage of Thai royalty, Indian glitterati and industrialists, to mention a few, to tread the newly-hallowed halls of which the restaurant has become in only the shortest of times.

Kulfi LN2

Gaggan was expecting me when I entered — he was running around like a ‘blue-arsed fly’ from table to table, explaining to each guest what they were about to put into their mouths, a puzzle for many, due to the menu descriptions and how things look when they arrive in front of you. Eventually, Gaggan came over and we got down to business. He’s always excited and excitable in that cheffy sort of way, ‘Mad Gaggs’ as he’s known to his friends. We clinked glasses and the theatrics began.

ACT 1: FUN!

That’s how it’s written on the menu too! First came a spherification of raita, looking like a small poached egg that bursts almost as soon as you put it into your mouth. Delicious. This was followed by Beetroot and Carrot Papad, made up of the dried puree of beetroot and carrot with a sprinkling of cumin. Crisp and intensely flavoured. I think my favourite was the Open Samosa, samosa aloo filling placed in a dried tamarind leather skin so that whilst eating, it really does taste as though you’re eating a samosa with tamarind chutney. And finally, as Act One comes to a close, Mojito-infused sugarcane sticks to chew and suck on!

Iberian Pork Vindaloo

ACT 2: GETTING STARTED

My pick was the Spaghetti Carbonara, a little spiral of well cooked spaghetti, coated with a lightly turmeric flavoured parmesan sauce and topped with a 62 °C, two-hour poached egg and freshly sliced Iberico ham. The accompanying cocktail was Mango Mania, a cocktail topped with actual Rum snow, lemony white rum snow in fact, liquid nitro frozen to -192°C snow that makes you breathe smoke like a dragon, because of the chill factor.

ACT 3: FOOD AT LAST!

This started with an adaptation of matar paneer. Cottage cheese-filled tortellini, sauteed in a curried pea puree, followed by a Gucchi Kebab, whole fresh gucchi or morel mushrooms, filled with a green pea gel, roasted in the tandoor, with a little fresh pineapple chutney on the side.

I loved the Sous Vide Austrian Kid Lamb, vacuum-packed and slow-cooked in a bath of 68°C water for around 12 hours. This will perfectly cook the lamb, pink and tender, and is eventually finished off in the tandoor and served with garlic and grape chutneys, sweet basil and rocket cress.

The next dish was titled The British National Dish, a rendition of the chicken tikka masala. Tender pieces of punchy chicken tikka, in an intense tomato reduction, finished with a little crème fraîche and accompanied by a small, incredibly light and crispy masala naan and finally the cocktail to accompany this section, a lightly jellied Litchi Martini, topped off with a lemon Espuma (foam).

ACT 4: ALMOST THERE

The desserts, of course. We started with an instant liquid nitro frozen Pista Kulfi, which came with a bright green Iranian pistachio soil and tiny edible flowers and shavings of fresh Thai peaches. The I Love Chocolate was three sorts of chocolate air, or like foam, really, dark, milk and white, served in a small bowl with some fine chocolate dust to cover, and the whole thing was so intensely flavoured with great quality chocolate but with the mousse, being nitrotised and as light as air, it was gone in two spoonfuls!

Well worth a trip to Bangkok, even if only for a trip to Gaggan, enjoy the experience, spend the whole evening getting surprised at each and every course and have a good bottle of wine or two to make it worth your while. You don’t treat yourself that often.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Bangkok? Tell t2@abp.in