Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Indian Accent x Naar: What's on the plate when chefs Manish Mehrotra and Prateek Sadhu join forces

The award-winning chefs are coming together for a buzzy pop-up, marking the mountain restaurant Naar's first urban outing, at Indian Accent outlets in Mumbai and Delhi

Pankti Mehta Kadakia
Published: Jun 21, 2024 12:41:37 PM IST
Updated: Jun 21, 2024 01:40:35 PM IST

(From left) Chef Prateek Sadhu, chef and founder at Naar in Himachal Pradesh and Chef Manish Mehrotra, Culinary director, Indian Accent(From left) Chef Prateek Sadhu, chef and founder at Naar in Himachal Pradesh and Chef Manish Mehrotra, Culinary director, Indian Accent
 
We’re on a Zoom call that spans heat-stricken Delhi, the hills of Kasauli and rainy Mumbai, with a conversation flitting from chaat to climate change, dissected with equal passion.

I’m speaking with two of the country’s most recognisable champions of Indian food: Chef Manish Mehrotra, culinary director, Indian Accent, known for its contemporary take on classic Indian fare; and chef Prateek Sadhu, chef and founder at Naar in Himachal Pradesh, with a mission to bring local and lesser-known Indian ingredients to world-class dining experiences.

The two chefs are breaking bread for a buzzy pop-up in Mumbai and Delhi, where they will collaborate for a one-time menu, at Indian Accent outlets in both cities. The pop-up travels to Mumbai on June 22 and 23, and to Delhi on June 26 and 27.

“It was a collaboration bound to happen,” says Mehrotra. “In this heat, what could be better than bringing the mountain-inspired restaurant Naar to come to Delhi and Mumbai. Indian Accent food is accessible in Delhi and Mumbai, but there’s a lot of curiosity around Naar, which so many people haven’t been able to experience just yet. People have tasted Prateek’s food—but not that of his new restaurant’s avatar.”

Sadhu adds: “For me, the idea is simple: It’s amazing to be back in Mumbai, number one, and number two, which is very important for me, to be cooking with chef Manish. Collaborations are a great way to showcase what you’re doing at your restaurants, but it’s also more about two teams coming together, and having fun.”

Sadhu, who formerly led the kitchen at Mumbai’s top fine-dine restaurant Masque, grew up in the mountains of Kashmir, and in 2023, opened a restaurant that would bring him back to the rolling hills—and with that, he hoped, bring discerning diners to explore the Himalayas and its rich produce as well. Naar opened doors to an intimate 16-seater cliff-side spot in October 2023, and has since been called ‘India’s most ambitious destination dining experience’. Sadhu’s food philosophy is heavily inspired by the Himalayan belt, which spans the north to north-east of India.

The award-winning Indian Accent, meanwhile, recently debuted on the World's Best Restaurants list. It has served diners its trademark blue cheese naan and airy, Chandni-Chowk inspired Daulat ki Chaat in Delhi, New York, London (now shuttered), and a year ago, also opened up in Mumbai.

So what’s on the plate when the mountains meet the big cities?

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“We wanted to do dishes that we have never done at Indian Accent ever, and something that complements Naar’s food from the mountains,” says Mehrotra.

Diners will be served a 10-course tasting menu, on which they will find Indian Accent’s Dilli Papdi Chaat, but along with that, experimental dishes such as ‘Tadgola, panna pakodi, melons’ and ‘lemon crab, byadgi chilli, dried shrimps’, by chef Mehrotra. These items will share space with chef Sadhu’s ‘dirty toast’, ‘pahadi pork, bakarkhani, acidic butter’, and ‘sunder-kala, eggplant, tomatoes and sinki broth’.

For dessert, there’s Indian Accent’s take on a Kashmiri ‘shufta’, presumably a nod to Sadhu’s heritage, and Naar’s version of a milk cake, made with burnt milk, ragi and pineapple.

The 10-course menu is priced at Rs 9,800 per person, and diners can choose between vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus.

“Both of us have very different styles of cooking. Prateek’s food philosophy is more deep rooted, while mine is more international, and I would say, audience-friendly, as I have to feed 150 diners a day at my restaurants. We really admire each other, and hope to learn a lot through this collaboration,” Mehrotra says.