A lot of us would have tried gulab jamun cheesecake. Once an experimental dish, it managed to settle well on the Indian palate. But now, it’s time for more experimentation. So how about a gulab jamun-based cocktail? Or a rasgulla-based one? As ludicrous as the idea might sound, these
cocktails do leave a pleasing flavour on your palate. Handcrafted by Italian mixologist Luca Cinalli for Novelé (the latest entrant in the cocktail bar scene in the national capital) at Hotel Shangri La, the drinks are drool-worthy.
But how does a gulab jamun cocktail make sense for consumers in India? Cinalli has it all figured out. “Indian consumers have an eye for drinks, but are served the usual stuff. Such cocktails are different because of the experimentation involved. Everything has been designed keeping in mind Indian tastebuds,” he says.
‘Khoisan’, the name given to the gulab jamun cocktail, is prepared on a base of Havana rum blended with some Assam tea. The aroma of the tea is coupled with a mild bitterness of the rum. Mild, because the gulab jamun neutralises the rum’s taste. Now, that’s some variation from your regular rum-and-coke. The drink did manage to allay my apprehensions regarding the combination, something Cinalli expected while preparing it. “I observed Indian consumers, their body language, behaviour and response to certain drinks. It helped me ascertain the taste that would fit just right,” he says.
The bar has some delectable food to match the drinks, be it the Truffle Lobster Rosquilla, with a distinct taste of lobsters in cream, or the Chuleta Pina Picante Abandanor, with succulent lamb portions served with gravy. Interestingly, the raw ingredients are all imported from their country of origin—the chillies are from Peru, the lamb from New Zealand and so on. Chef Akshay Nayyar also takes pride in the cooking methods used. “We sous vide a lot. This preserves the nutrition and cuts the use of oil, making it healthier,” he says. The fish I was served was the only meaty item that was slightly undercooked; others were cooked just right.