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Tasting the monsoon in a 10-course menu

The menu, Forgotten, Foraged & Fermented, at Noon in Mumbai brings the joy of discovering unknown ingredients and unlocks the possibilities of preservation

(Left) The new monsoon menu at NOON; black buckwheat tartlets with Jerusalem artichoke, chioggia beets, goat cream, sichuan pepper, black garlic and seaweed salt.
(Left) The new monsoon menu at NOON; black buckwheat tartlets with Jerusalem artichoke, chioggia beets, goat cream, sichuan pepper, black garlic and seaweed salt.

What happens to lamb after it has fermented for a week? The meat becomes fall-of-the-bone tender and melts in the mouth. Spice it up with foraged garlic chives from Ladakh, and serve it with fiddlehead fern achaar made by the chef’s Kashmiri mother, and what you get is an unforgettable dish. The new monsoon menu, Forgotten, Foraged & Fermented, at NOON in Mumbai is a celebration of ingredients, communities and cooking traditions of Indian cuisine.

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Chef and founder Vanika Choudhary debuted this 10-course experience at London’s culinary space, 180 Corner, last month. The lamb dish named, A trip to the mountains, was licked off the plates by a few guests there. After seven years of relentless experimenting—Choudhary began her professional food journey by launching the cafe Sequel in 2016—she has mastered the fine art of extracting complex tastes through fermentation and combining them with complementary elements in a dish. Fermentation enables her to preserve foraged produce like mahua and spices from Ladakh; turn everyday ingredients (think, chana dal and millets) into miso; and reimagine simple recipes, such as making chutneys with fermented tamarind.

The chana dal miso adds a depth of flavour to a course named, A recreation of a humble farmer’s meal. It has a warm, soft bhakri (Maharashtrian-style roti) made with sprouted ragi (foxtail millets), and is paired with juicy charcoal-cooked tiger prawns coated with Malvani masala and the wondrous chana dal miso.

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The fermented tamarind chutney accompanies bhavnagiri chilli vadas in the first course. The millet miso uplifts Gucchi mushrooms sourced from Kishtwar in Jammu & Kashmir in the fourth course. And, a chickpea and soybean miso goes into a creamy kulfi in the ninth course.

Fermentation is part of the chef's DNA. Across her restaurant Noon and the adjoining cafe Sequel, there are shelves filled with about 150 jars of varying sizes that store fermented ingredients. Each is neatly labelled with names, date and age.

Another imprint of the chef’s identity in the menu is her commitment to foraged ingredients, especially from the hills; be it the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, sub-regions of Ladakh and the wilderness of Uttarakhand and Kashmir. Ladakh’s black buckwheat is a permanent feature in her delish savoury tarts which are part of the third course. Foraged sea lettuce from Maharashtra's Palghar is part of an ingenious ice cream. And, moreish pisyoon loon (flavoured salt) from Uttarakhand goes into the amaranth pani puri in the fourth course.

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Finally, the forgotten aspect of the menu pays homage to fairly unknown ingredients in India. Apart from the spices and grains from the hills, sprouted ragi flour from Tamil Nadu is an essential part of the multi-course experience. Then there’s seaweed and oysters sourced from western coast that never make it to mainstream restaurants.

It is this interplay of flavours, passion to introduce unfamiliar ingredients and dedication to preserving them that unlocks the possibilities of each dish, and redefines what a tasting menu can be for the modern Indian diner.

The menu is priced at 4000 plus taxes (vegetarian and non vegetarian). It's available till the end of September. For reservations, visit, or call on 075066 77720.

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