THE INDIAN discerning diner today desires ‘out of the box’ culinary experiences. Chefs may present a decent meal at their fine dining set ups yet the food aficionados find it boring. Therefore, there is a challenge here for chefs to get out of their comfort zone and experiment. In recent times, the experiment of ‘pop ups’ has worked well as a quick, short term alternative platform allowing chefs to showcase something ‘out of the ordinary’. The pop ups usually have been ingredient based, regional cuisine based or collaborations with visiting chefs from across the globe. One such successful pop up, concluded recently (and will come back soon on popular demand) was ‘Red Chillies Trail’ at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi.
The culinary brigade, led by Chef Sahil Arora, planned an array of delicacies honouring the star ingredient, ‘Red Hot Chilli’. The well curated dishes were spicy, savoury and sweet – inspired by chillies from around the world.
“The main concept of ‘The Red Hot Trail’ Fest was to give guests a culinary experience throughout our food and beverage restaurants based on one theme. We choose red chillies as an ingredient and planned our menu inspired by them from around the world including Friggitello peppers from Italy, Habanero from Mexico, Tien Tsin from China and Bhut Jholakia from India. There are more 400 varieties of chillies found across the world and India is theirlargest producer and exporter in the world. Deep-fried Friggitello peppers, Calabrian Chilli Sausages Tortellini with Italian Pepperoncino, Stir-fried Prawns with Fresh Chilli Pepper, Dragon Chicken with Tien Tsin peppers are the key highlights of the menu. Guests can enjoy unconventional indulgences like Chocolate Chilli Cheesecake, Chilli infused Chocolate Chilli Truffles, Chocolate and Chilli Macaroons at Mister Chai. The guests loved the experience as it gave a plethora of choices to choose from”, tells Chef Sahil Arora.
Shang Palace – Chic, Luxurious & Stylish
Kitchen maestros at Shang Palace curated Red Chillies Chinese feast with dishes like Wok-fried Tofu with Fresh Chillies, Yunnan-style Spicy Chicken Wings, Stir-fried Prawns with Fresh Chilli Pepper and many more.
Vegetarians feast had ‘Wok Fried Tofu with Fresh Chillies’ – the all-time favourite dish Wok Fried Tofu perked up with Fresh Red Chillies. Stir Fried Spicy Broccoli and Assorted Mushrooms – an excellent combination of stir fried spicy broccoli and assorted mushrooms flavoured with red chillies.
For non-vegetarians, what stole the show was ‘Sichuan Style Spicy Whole Seabass’ – Sichuan fresh peppercorns with Citrus spice flavour. ‘Dragon Chicken with Tien Tsin Peppers and vegetables’ – pronounced “tea-in sin”, they are also known as Chinese red peppers. These chilies are most popular when used in Asian cooking, especially in the Hunan or Sichuan styles. These upward pointing fruits start out green and mature to a bright red colour. Dragon Chicken with this pepper is a star dish of ‘The Red Hot Trail Promotion’.
Another signature dish was ‘Stir Fried Prawns with Fresh Chilli Peppers and Facing Heaven Chilli Peppers’ – Chao Tian Jiao, is one of the most famous chili peppers used in Sichuan cuisine. In Chinese cuisine, Chao Tian means facing heaven. Jiao means pepper. Facing heaven chili pepper get its name because the peppers are pointing to the sky in the plant. Mixing these chilli peppers with stir fried prawns gives the most authentic taste.
Decor – Everything’s in a name
The vision behind the ambience of Shang Palace was to build a new generation of Chinese restaurants, to present an elegant and refined experience that is ornate yet understated. Carrying forward the 47-year old legacy, taking inspiration from the name of the restaurant and the cultural influences behind it, the interior design of this restaurant showcases distinctive and characteristic motifs of bronze, which represent an important era in Chinese history. Sited right at the entrance is a wine cellar, displaying a large selection of wine, pairing perfectly with the specially curated menu at Shang Palace. This unique feature of the restaurant’s interior is perfect for large family gatherings or business meetings who choose to dine in a personal and quiet space.
Visually antiquated Chinese coins take centrestage on one of the intricately designed walls of the small private dining room, creating an atmosphere that exhibits the Chinese heritage. The seating display is made up of contrasting tabletops, bowls and plates and dark wood chopsticks with copper gold chopstick rests. The bespoke water glasses draw inspiration from the restaurant’s lattice patterns. An opulent and sophisticated atmosphere resonates within the ambience of the restaurant. An in-house tea display bar serving traditional Chinese tea merchandise is also present, where a variety of Chinese teas are served in style.
Chilli Desserts & Drinks
To take the Red Hot Chilli Trail forward guests were encouraged to have unconventional desserts like Chocolate Chilli Cheesecake, Chilli infused Chocolate Chilli Truffles, Chocolate and Chilli Macaroons at Mister Chai.
The mixologists at Grappa Bar were at their best, concocting offbeat drinks with a spicy twist. Latina Margarita, Marigold Gin and Tonic and Chilli Martini were the highlights of the bold and flavourful cocktails, perfect for the city winters.