Waiter, There's lychee in my fish!

Jun 17, 2012, 10:54 IST | Bhairavi Jhaveri

The pre-monsoon showers bring with them sweet lychees that chefs are dabbling with

Chefs and novice cooks have always experimented with fruits in salsas, dips, hummus recipes and salads — as a sweetened dip that goes alongside something spicy, or a salad that’s very cooling on the palate. But when it comes to the main show, a fruit rarely makes it as the prime ingredient of the dish in restaurants in India.

Pineapple Carpaccio with Fondue and Stuffed lychees. Pics/Sameer Markande

So when we came across a three-course seasonal menu featuring lychees, created by chef Danish Ashraf, senior chef de cuisine, Lake View Café, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, we liked it from the word go. Chef Ashraf, who was working in London for seven years, has soaked in an out-of-the-box approach to the usual ingredients and loves tossing up a surprise every now and then.

First up, we were journeyed through a Pineapple Carpaccio with Cheese Fondue-stuffed Lychees. We were impressed with this stunner — stuffing lychees with cheese and chives, and making sure it tastes fabulous. Complemented with a pineapple and chives salsa, and a light basil olive oil drizzle, the dish was a magnificent collaboration of the sweet with the salty, with a slight lingering taste of chilli. “I looked at the lychees and they reminded me of scallops; stuffed scallops were the inspiration for my dish,” says chef Ashraf.

Very clever, we thought. You need’t be an experimental gourmet foodie; even a rookie would take to this dish as it was such a rare combination presented with such simplicity. Still recuperating from the intelligent concoction of the appetiser, we were presented with the main course dish —Lychee and Ginger-crusted Red Snapper with Lentils. We had no idea what to expect, but the surprise was worth it.

A tender, well-cooked Red Snapper had soaked in all the flavours of the contemporary ginger and lychee crust. The bed of cooked lentils with light seasoning was steeped in a lychee reduction and balsamic vinaigrette. The fish was cooked al dente, and the sweetness of the lychee was offset by the ginger and the lentils, both containing some amount of bitterness. None of the flavours were overpowering and presented a fine blend of flavours and more importantly, textures in this one.

The dessert, Lychee 3 Ways comprised lychee presented in three dessert forms — as a Frangipane Tart, chocolate-crusted lychee and Lychee cooked in Coconut Milk served in a shot glass. We dug into each decadent treat with gusto. 

The seasonal three-course lychee menu can be enjoyed at the Lake View Café, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel until the lychee season lasts.
For: Rs 1,500 plus taxes 
Order must be placed 48 hours in advance.
Call: 66927554

Lychee around town
OPA has launched a Lychee Sorbet with bitter Chocolate Carpaccio dessert
For: Rs 350
At: Juhu Tara Road, Juhu

Yogurt Bay has introduced a seasonal lychee-flavoured yoghurt with a lychee topping.
For: Rs 100 for a small serving (with topping)
At: All Yogurt Bay outlets in the city

Silver Beach Café’s menu sees a Caramelised Lychee in Coconut Milk Custard with Praline
For: Rs 190
At: Gandhi Gram Road, Juhu

Le 15 Patisserie has a lychee and raspberry tart (R95) and a Lychee and Raspberry Cake (Rs 1,100/kg) on order.
At: Palladium Mall, High Street Phoenix

36 Oak and Barley has a Lychee Martini (R600) on its cocktail menu; Bonobo has a Watermelon and Lychee Martini (Rs 420) on its menu.
At: 36 Oak and Barley, Cumballa Hill; Bonobo, Bandra (W) 

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