I was recently invited to try Vegan Food at the Spice Route, Imperial Delhi. The Spice Route is the South East Asian Restaurant at the Imperial. This was my first visit to the Spice Route even though I have been to the Imperial before.
Being a vegetarian, vegan food is equally interesting for me. I didn’t expect the mock meat though. The mock meat is made of konjac (a vegetable from Korea) and Tapioca. I asked Chef Veena as to why should a vegan lunch be of mock meat when as a vegetarian I do not crave meat at all! She said a lot of people go vegan after being non-vegetarian and they would appreciate it. I decided to go for the lunch with an open mind. I quite liked the food. I also discovered that Chef Veena is Thai and we had a lot to talk about Thailand through our meal!
The first starter was Thai spring rolls with mock crab meat. I am not sure what crab meat tastes like but the mock one was delicate in taste. I quite liked the spring rolls.
I have tasted fish on a few occasions. I have tried hard to experiment with non-vegetarian food. I have not had much success though. The most I can eat is a bite of fish and that is where I stop. At least I know what fish tastes like! The dumplings were quite close to the original taste. It is amazing how the same texture can be achieved with vegan fillings!
Once again I have tasted a mouthful of prawns previously. I have to say I would prefer the vegan ones any given day! However, people who were non-vegetarian on our table, thought they preferred it exactly the other way round!
Silky beancurd was also a starter that I tried. We had a big debate about why tofu has been experimented with so much, but not so the paneer (cottage cheese).
The mock chicken and mock Malabar curry along with rice were the main course. I have to admit that the texture of the mock chicken and gravy were excellent. The Malabar curry was good too.
We polished it off with Tofu ice cream with coconut cream. If I didn’t know it was tofu, I would have guessed it, it tasted just like the milk ice cream!
The Spice Route offers both indoor and the outdoor seating. The opening picture of this post is from the indoor seating, that is the ambiance I enjoyed! I walked around the outdoor area as well.
The indoor seating reminded me of South India whereas the outdoor reminded me of Thailand. If the weather is nice, outdoor seating is equally pleasant!
The outdoor area of the restaurant has beautiful murals on the wall. Sitting there you cannot feel you are right in the heart of CP!
Even though I have been to Imperial a few times, I wonder how I didn’t notice the beautiful roof. Ruchi, the lovely lady from Imperial, mentioned that they hold weekend high tea in this area!
Overall, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Spice Route. I feel vegan food is a great idea and I am sure over the years the variety is going to increase! The outing also gave me the bonus of meeting Supriya Aggarwal of the Humming Notes.
PS. I was invited by the Imperial Delhi for the lunch.
My only previous experience of a vegan meal was way back in 2000 when I was flying Delhi-Dubai-Greece. By the time it came to Greece-Dubai-Delhi leg I had enough of vegan food. My next tryst with it came yesterday night at a dinner organized at The Oberoi in Delhi. The dinner was organized by The Farm at San Benito, Philippines.
The Farm is a leading wellness resort focusing on preventive wellenss. They serve desserts (you can see how important it is for me), main courses, soups and everything we are used to but it is vegan. And that means no meat and no dairy products. The Farm’s products are available in India at The Kirana Shop. The shop stocks many other organic products. I have tried their gooseberry mouth freshener and it is really good.
When I met Jennifer Hazen, the resident manager at The Farm I told her my flight story. She laughed and said tonight’s dinner would change my concept of vegan food and she was right. I asked her to say a few words to my blog readers and she agreed readily.
Jennifer Hazen of The Farm, San Benito, Philippines
While we were chatting they served me a coconut water with chili flakes. Now that was some start! In all my previous meetings with coconut water I never managed to catch it with chili flakes. The dinner was a sumptuous affair too.
Healthy Soups from The Farm
The soup I had for the evening was Corn, Ginger and Lemon Grass soup. I was right there ready to change my opinion of a vegan meal. Before it I had Roamine Wrap with Thai Tomato Vinaigrette along with Pomelo Salad with Cashew and Bird Eye Chili Dressing as starters. And even though it was not on The Farm’s menu The Oberoi had provided me with some excellent white wine for the evening.
I asked Jennifer who was her target market? She said the average age of visitors was around 35 and many were interested in prevention and well being. She said if one wanted to do a detox program a minimum four night stay was recommended. But she said some guests came just to visit and be at the resort without engaging in a treatment. She said as of now they had a guest who was staying for 60 nights as well.
The Raw- Book
Going back to food the main course was Green Curry with Raw Vegetables and Steamed Tofu with Spicy Pickled Plum Sauce, Miso Marinated Shitake Mushrooms with Karware Sprouts. It was all uncooked but it was so well done. If they didn’t tell me it was raw food I would never know. It was fascinating to taste so many vegan dishes that were this good.
But for me it is the dessert that makes or breaks a deal. And it was RAW! Chocolate Chili Marble Pie and Raspberry and Mango Soya Milk Panacotta with Pecan Nut Praline. And that was when i was truly convinced that if done well vegan food can be excellent.
I am anyway a vegetarian by choice. But because of my previous flight experience I used to think that food without milk product is a waste. After all in that flight I drooled so often when others were eating cakes and I was eating food. The experience of this dinner tells me otherwise. The Farm has a vegan recipe book called RAW. It is available from The Kirana Shop. I talked to the owner of the Kirana Shop, Ragini Mehra. She had been to The Farm and she was interested in presenting good organic ingredients to her customers. She said for her it was going back to the roots.
I still think that switching completely to vegan food would require huge lifestyle changes for us but I am for sure now going to torture my family with an occasional vegan recipe. It will be a torture because I would be making it!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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