Experience Fine Wines With Exquisite Indian Fare At Desi Deli, Andheri, Mumbai
Allow me to start with a caveat. I’m no wine expert. But I do love drinking it (in generous amounts) and eating (in generous amounts), and if I’m told that the food and wine go together, then all the better.
So, when I was approached by a friend with an invitation to attend an event that was attempting to break the myth that wine doesn’t ‘go’ with Indian food, I said yes, in the interest of research and further understanding on the subject.
Wine itself is fascinating, and coupled with the idea of food-pairing, it becomes almost irresistible. Also because my friend (being my friend) knew to cleverly leave out the part that it was on a weekend, and it was in Andheri (in Mumbai). But boy, am I glad I went.
Let me get the pleasantries out of the way by introducing the key players that made it possible for my preconceived notions to be shattered.
The gracious hosts, Lolita Sarkar and Amitabh Sinha of Desi Deli; the sommelier, Gargi Kothari, who is a self-professed wine geek and founder of Magic Cellars; and the bringers of all the wine for the evening, Good Drop Wine, who produce Casablanca sparkling wines as well as wine spritzers called RiO, and premium whites and reds under the name Good Earth Wine.
Divided into 4 courses, with options for both vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians, the meal began with a welcome pour of Frizzano Sparkling wine, extra dry — bubbly and refreshing enough to get you amped up for the meal ahead.
The first course was a pork chorizo samosa (NV) or a jackfruit samosa (V) that came out HOT (there was also a tuna on a crisp option, but it didn’t compare).
Do you know how amazing that is? To bite into a samosa and have steam escape from the inside? You’re missing out, if you haven’t had this experience firsthand.
Both kinds were evenly spiced, with the vindaloo (vindalho, if you want to be correct, but I’m just touchy about it) flavouring on point and the jackfruit playing its mock-meat part like a pro.
To complement these hot and spicy bites, Kothari served up some Casablanca Vino Spumante. The bubbles were comparatively lesser in this one, with crisp apple and other fruity notes. I mention the crispness because that’s exactly what played against the otherwise strong spice of the Goan pork filling.
Like a choreographed dance, Sarkar and Kothari came in back and forth to explain the food and wine pairings, and the second time around it was chhota dogs — a Desi Deli favourite.
Again in chicken and veg options, these specially made sausages came topped with a kasundi mayonnaise, nestled in soft buns that made for very satisfying bites.
The Casablanca Rose Spumante that was paired with this was nice, but the marriage was lost on me, if I’m being completely honest.
Now because I was technically alone, I had to not be shy and talk to people, which turned out to be a great thing. I met Kothari’s parents, who were beaming with pride watching their daughter eloquently explain each wine to a interested crowd.
And in between hearing a classic #DadJoke about my name (Alisha Chinai, remember her?) and finding out her mum was a clinical psychologist who worked with children with autism and special needs, I didn’t even realise my third course was in front of me.
Now, this one…this one was special. A slow cooked mutton champ, cooked in an earthen pot for added flavour, on a bed of red rice, topped off with fried onions and annar, with a glass of Good Earth Brio shiraz red, made for the perfect picture. But more than that, EVERYTHING about this course complemented each other.
It was like everything people tell you about pairing that you don’t get and yet silently nod along, you suddenly were like “Oh, THAT’S what they were talking about!”
The peppery spices in the tender meat played off the pepper notes in the wine. What a party! The vegetarian option was a street mutter with fried onions and red rice, inspired by what Sarkar used to eat growing up in Kolkata.
And finally, the last course was inspired strongly by her years in the City of Joy, where families would make a traditional roast and eat it with pretty much anything (similar to Catholic communities in Goa and Bombay too, I would say).
This dish was served with roasted sweet potatoes, bacon bits, and a green salad with sweet lime segments. Kothari, for her part, paired it with a Good Earth Basso, a Cabernet-Sauvignon, but I was still reeling from the previous pairing to form an opinion.
Like all parties, this one ended with something sweet. A brownie nibble with a specially concocted ‘cocktail’ of wine, coffee, and vanilla, served in a cutting chai glass. So good, I decided to heck with politeness and went in for seconds.
So, are you up for pairing that samosa with some fancy red wine? Bet, you’re already thinking.