• Wed. May 25th, 2022

Mumbai: Head to the new ingredient-focused restaurant Ekaa to sample 3 unique menus and some of the best cocktails in town

ByRandall B. Phelps

Dec 16, 2021

Five sea urchin shells set on ceramic glasses sit on a shelf at Ekaa, the new gourmet restaurant in South Mumbai. Before they became part of the decor – with bouquets of forage grasses, giant glass jars in which roots and fruit ferment, and a particularly sculptural pumpkin or two – these sea-bristling hedgehogs made the show. subject of intense R&D in Ekaa’s kitchen.

The uni or eggs, as the edible part of the sea urchin is called, is a very popular delicacy in today’s gastronomic world. For its buttery, smooth, and creamy texture – and high price tag – it’s even called ocean foie gras and a favorite ingredient of the world’s most prominent chefs.

But for Niyati Rao, chef and co-founder of Ekaa (with serial restaurateur Sagar Neve), the ‘I have to add it to my menu’ moment was when she realized it was harvested from the southern India.

The private dining room at Ekaa Mumbai

“Long before the arrival of Ekaa or noma,” says Rao, who spent four and a half months at René Redzepi’s 3-star Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen before the pandemic struck, “I was traveling in Tamil Nadu. came across this little village near Chennai where I saw sea urchin shells being used as a lampshade in someone’s house. I was amazed to find that they actually fish it here. Took a year to communicate with them – how to pack, how to transport with dry ice etc – but we actually brought them to Mumbai!

In Ekaa Mumbai, spotlight on local ingredients in 3 Acts

Much of the food you eat and the things you drink in Ekaa are accompanied by similar, often adventurous stories all rooted in memory, the spirit of discovery, and a commitment to experimentation. Take, for example, the Indian Mirage Gin Cocktail which, along with the homemade grog, stone flower liqueur, and jasmine flower extract, contains the Dahasamani ayurveda herbal blend – something that Jishnu, the chief mixologist, brought back from his memories of Kerala. It’s accompanied by a slice of half-moon coconut sprout perched on top, a revelation for its “wonderful texture, light and sweet,” as Rao succinctly puts it.