Following Kutir’s success in Chelsea, Manthan is a brand new restaurant from chef Rohit Ghai and his business partner Abhishake Sangwan. After working in kitchens such as Gymkhana and Jamavar, Rohit Ghai’s return to Mayfair focuses on contemporary Indian dinner plates. Meaning ‘churn and think,’ Manthan places particular emphasis on food from Madyha Pradesh, where the chef grew up, although the menu includes a wide range of dishes from all over India.
At the opening of Manthan, Head Chef Rohit Ghai said: âI’ve never cooked this way before in London – dishes that really speak of my past, as well as my present. Manthan is the culmination of many years of hard work and I hope Londoners are representative of the comfort food I love at home as well as the food I have cooked here.
Taking over the old Lucknow 49 site, the new restaurant space has been redesigned with dark wood interiors, marble finishes, and seating around a central bar. On a recent lunch visit, the atmosphere was relaxed and although the restaurant reception was clearly understaffed, thanks to a staff shortage that is currently devastating the hospitality industry, everything went smoothly, with polite but warm and friendly service.
As for food, the menu represents Rohit Ghai’s appreciation for home cooking and expert techniques, continuing to serve the fine cuisine for which his restaurants have become so renowned. It should also be noted that about half of the dishes served at Manthan are vegetarian. Meanwhile, chicken, lamb and guinea fowl dishes can all be prepared Halal.
One of those vegetarian dishes, the pyaaz kachori was a graceful and beautifully presented version of a classic snack, comprising a sort of fried dumpling with a delicately spicy filling centered around the Roscoff onion, accompanied by a sweet tamarind sauce, mint, pomegranate seeds and sprouts, all bringing freshness to the fried dish. Likewise, Manthan’s dahi kebabs were fat-free and remarkably tasty with their toppings of curd, yogurt and Kashmiri chili, accompanied by a wonderful wild berry sauce.
When it comes to meat dishes, the Buttermilk Chicken came highly recommended, with more gourmet bites of fried chicken finished with just a touch of makhani (butter chicken sauce) and fried curry leaves. The shami kebab, meanwhile, was a soft ball of rich goat meat in a pool of incredibly decadent bone marrow sauce with a deep flavor depth, demanding to be cleaned up with the conveying roast.
This same sauce was recommended to accompany soy chops. An unusual combination, but the richness of the bone marrow sauce has teamed up with the smoke of the chops to give soybeans a particularly meaty taste – proof that meat substitutes shouldn’t be just for vegetarians.
Another meatless highlight on the Manthan menu, the Anda curry featured two Burford Brown hard-boiled eggs in a fenugreek leaf sauce and a remarkable balance of spiciness, salty, and decadence to complement the eggs.
The simply titled âosso buccoâ also had a remarkably opulent sauce. Named after the classic Italian dish, Manthan’s version used a similar cut of meat, but favored lamb over traditional veal. Heady with Jaffna spices, the dish is further enriched with the fat of the lamb and the marrow bone which soak up the sauce during slow cooking. A bread side is an absolute must-have for any sauce.
To finish, the classic trio presented a hybrid concoction of traditional Indian sweets, including laddoo, srikhand and gulab jamun, again presenting an exceptional balance: sweet but not too dominant, defending expert techniques. The garlic kheer, on the other hand, had a base of sweet rabri made from jaggery and condensed milk, topped with a hint of garlic that went surprisingly well with the dish, served in a basket of brandy. with a pinch of crushed pistachio. Like everything else served at Manthan, this is a true celebration of elegant and often exceptional contemporary cuisine. Proof that Indian cuisine is easily among the most sophisticated and refined in the world.
Manthan can be found at 49 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PQ.
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