It’s on a wonderfully breezy day, with a slight drizzle dabbing the face, that one enters The Wine Company, ensconced within DLF CyberHub. The bright lamps within suffuse the earthy interiors with a warm glow, offering a contrast to the grey skies outside. As one takes in the cellar-style wine shop at the restaurant and the newly-designed bar, Chef Sarah Todd walks in. She is getting set to host a special lunch for six young women chefs from the city. The guests include Megha Kohli from Lavaash by Saby, Radhika Khandelwal, the genius behind Fig & Maple, Anahita Dhondy of SodaBottleOpenerWala and Kainaz Contractor from the much-loved Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu. “All over the world, female chefs are few and far between. It’s important to create a community for them, so that they feel supported and are celebrated,” says Todd, who won the hearts of Indian viewers when she cooked aloo gobhi as a contestant on Master Chef Australia. Her sentiment is echoed by Bani Nanda of Miam Patisserie – one of the guests at the lunch, who feels that the camaraderie that can be seen among women within the food industry is exceptional. “Most of us are already friends and support each other. And this lunch stands as a testament to that This doesn’t happen so much in the other industries,” she says.
On offer are dishes from the all new menu designed by Todd to celebrate The Wine Company’s fourth anniversary. As seen at her other restaurants, Antares in Goa and The Wine Rack Mumbai, here too the chef brings together her love for global cuisine with regional Indian flavours. She takes hearty, comforting dishes such as risotto, pork ribs and saganaki and infuses them with local flavours. They don’t just tell a delicious culinary story, but also spin a narrative about local cultures and communities, as gleaned from her many travels. A stark example of this is the Goan Pork sausage and bhut jolokia risotto inspired by her sojourn through Assam for the show, Awesome Assam, for Fox Life. Or the Kalari cheese, an indigenous varietal from Kashmir, which she flambes with Old Monk in Saganaki-style “This cheese is fast becoming our top-selling dish,” she says. Also, interesting are some of her other signature dishes such as the soft-shell crab pakora Nahm Jim, with hints of spiciness that balance out the sweetness of the crab, the Kashmiri-style pork ribs and apple wine jam, Red Wine duck kulcha, iced nougat and Raan Kolhapuri with Avocado raita, and more. Another must-have is Todd’s savoury take on churros, made with goat cheese and served with truffle cream and chili dip, and also a robust Madras curried lamb tortellini with burnt butter and coconut sauce.
Explore Chef Sarah Todd's special dishes at The Wine Company
The new menu is also significant as it breaks the notion that Indian food doesn’t pair well with wine. She has paired old world and new world wines with the dishes. “Just like you balance a dish, similarly you need to balance flavours in the wine and food pairings,” she says. So, you have the goat cheese churros and Kalari paired with a P. Ferraud and Fils Chabilis from Burgundy, France and the red wine duck kulcha with a Fondo Valpolicella Ripasso Superior from Veneto, Italy. According to her, hearty meat dishes such as Raan Kolhapuri go well with full-bodied wines, while light seafood dishes, with hints of spiciness, would work well with wines, which have more acidity. “Indian food is so versatile. The flavours change from region to region. The same holds true for wine. There are just so many varieties. Also, the complex nature of Indian food and the complexity of wines – both Indian and international – go so well together,” says Dhondy, about the potential that this area holds for chefs and sommeliers alike.