On the world map, South Africa means Tribals, Nature Walks, Safaris, Wild life and Raw Scenic Beauty…..but did you know that South African Cuisine is now catching up on the gastronomic map of the world.
The ‘Rainbow cuisine’ as it is called, has conspicuous overtones of European food. With its history of invasions back in the seventeenth century and settlers from Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, the colonial flavours of fusion cuisine define the South African fare.
On the other hand the Afrikaners have their native potjiekos, tamatiebredie (tomato bredie), or stews of lamb and mutton with tomato and onion sauce, with or without rice. There are many European contributions like Dutch fried crueler or koeksister, Malva Pudding and Melktert (milk tart). French Hugenots brought wines as well as their traditional recipes. Hence the Rainbow Cuisine.
So for the bold and experimental and the well travelled foodie, the affluent GK2 M Block Market of Delhi is now home to Uzuri Deck-n-Dining.
Uzuri is a perfect blend of European Cuisine with the scrumptious hues of the beautifully majestic Africa.
The restaurant is spread over two levels. Level 1 offers an intimate dining space that boasts of chic décor with more than obvious tones of the wild. Bold colours and prints combined with wall masks used very aesthetically. Interesting I’d say.
The Bar and Deck on Level 2 has an equally complimenting décor with well-appointed indoor and outdoor spaces. We sat on the deck….(don’t we all crave for outdoor restaurants especially at this time of the year in Delhi !!) The lighting is excellent to set your mood right. The ambience is warm and welcoming. There is an eye for detail, small things that add up to the whole experience. From the music to the decor to the way food is served.
The restaurant is led by two young talented chefs – Rishim Sachdeva and Guy Clarke.
Rishim, an Oxford Brookes University, London graduate is a globetrotter at a young age, having gained tremendous technical skills and work experience in Europe with some renowned and celebrated names in the food industry and Michelin Star Chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Chef Matthias Taubert.
Guy Clarke joins the team from South Africa and is a celebrated name as a Master Chef South Africa, season one winner.
I had a chance to meet the modest Rishim Sachdeva, with a million dollar smile who romanticises food as he talks about it.
While there was no specific tasting menu, we went ahead with the Chef’s choice and were served four dishes from the entrees… 48 Hours Cooked Mustard Lamb Shoulder served with Wild Spinach and Hazelnut Salsa Verde. The beautifully cooked lamb compliments the delicate balance of hazelnuts and mustard. A unique combination indeed.
Spicy Chicken, Roast Carrots, Pickled Onions with Chilli Creme Fraiche Dressing, Trio of Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese Mousse served with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Warm Bread where the beetroot was cooked three ways – salted, pickled, braised – served with the classic combination of goat cheese. You can never go wrong with that one; but the hands down winner for me was the delicately flavoured Cape Malay Fish Cakes served with Saffron Mayo and Nutty Capers.
A very interesting concept which I must say I’ve never experienced before was Palette Cleansers. These are essentially quick small bites of neutralisers like cucumber served in-between courses to cleanse your palette of the strong flavours so you could enjoy your next dish and experience the finer nuances.
Along with these absolutely delicious entrees, we ordered some drinks (err only Mocktails….the liquor license is still awaited and likely to come through any day), but again the mocktails are an absolute winner. The Kaffir Lime Mojito and the signature cocktail – Uzuri Fresh.
The Kaffir Lime in the Mojito gives it a new dimension of flavour.
Since KJ was with us for dinner so there was no way we could get away without ordering cold coffees if we saw them on the menu and I’m so glad we did. The coffee lover in me couldn’t be more ecstatic. They offer three types of iced coffees on their menu and we ordered them all….Mandarin, Coconut Chocolate and my new favourite Cinnamon Ginger….I fell in love with the sound of that combination.
So moving to the main course we were served Pressed Pork Belly, with Apple Cider Mash and Warm Fennel-n-Star Anise Jus, Coffee-n-Paprika Crusted Tenderloin, served with Truffle Compound Butter, Marrow Roast Potatoes and seasonal vegetables and African Spiced Leg of Lamb served with Braised Radishes, Min Crusted Potatoes and 48 hours Caramelised Onions with Confit Garlic and Caper Jus.
The Pork Belly was beautifully cooked with a lovely crackle to the crust.
The Tenderloin I believe was also delicious, cooked to a perfect rare medium. (I’m not the right person talking about this dish since I inherently do not like Tenderloin) However KJ loved it !!
The African Spiced Lamb was well cooked with a delicate balance of acidity and the sweetness of the caramelised onions.
On the side we’d also ordered Cocoon Prawns and Feta Cheese with Parma Ham and Melon Vodka Dressing Salad which was very refreshing and Herb Quinoa Salad with Bush Style Smoked Vegetables and Truffle Scented Pesto.
Last but not the least, for desserts we had Chocolate Soil Semi Frozen Truffles, Caramelised Nuts, Pickled Grapes & Butter Caramel Ice Cream and Vanilla Panacotta with Raspberry Coulis.
The desserts could have been nicer. I was not satiated as far as the desserts went.
The pricing is a little steep but surely worth the over all experience.
Chef Rishim Sachdeva was kind enough to share their signature mocktail recipe –
Uzuri Fresh and also Missimuko with us:
4 Chunks Mandrin
2 Spoon Demarara sugar
3 pcs Lemon Wedeges
7 to 8 Mint Leaves
10 ml Lime Juice
10ml Sugar Syrup
90ml Orange Juice
30ml Cranberry Juice
Garnish: Half Moon Mandrin slice and Mint Sprig
45 ml Tequila
10 ml Peach Snappes
4 pcs Plums
10 ml Plum Suce
10 ml Lime Juice
10 ml Sugar Syrup
Method: Blended Served Frozen
Garnish: Fresh Plum Rim of Salt
Uzuri meaning ‘Goodness’ in Swahili is truely true to its name.