There is now another Masterchef finalist who is looking to delight the tastebuds of those in and around Manchester, with some of the dishes serving up a real Indian surprise.
Bobby Geetha reached the final of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2016 and since then has gone on to merge his native knowledge of South Indian cuisine from his home state of Kerala, with more ambitious techniques from his internship at Noma in Copenhagen as well as learning stints with Heston Blumental and Raymond Blanc.
Born in Kovalam, Kerala, Bobby grew up with access to fine South Indian ingredients and these play a big part in his dishes.
As a youngster he was snapped up for the management training scheme of the India’s prestigious Taj Hotel Group, which includes the stunning Taj Mahal Palace where we visited earlier this year.
Moving to Dubai, his dishes continued to develop, embracing Middle Eastern flavours to compliment those of his hometown. From Dubai he co-ordinated 21 Asha’s restaurants before going freelance and pursued his ‘Fine Dining Indian’ brand, publishing his own magazine and three cookbooks.
Now working as a consultive chef at Vermillion Manchester, Bobby has developed a 20 dish menu, to be unveiled on Thursday, October 22 as the aptly named project: Vermillion: Awakened.
Situated next to Sport City in Ancoats it is ideally located for the regeneration in New East Manchester and is just a 6 min taxi ride from Piccadilly Station.
Decorated in a lavish style that combines Asian design, it reminded me of a few restaurants from my time living in Goa.
A sneak peak of the new menu unveiled a combination of small and large plates, each clearly lending a nod to India, but with some added twists.
Appetiser of Crunchy Lotus, Kale, Pink Lady and Pomegranate – a delight to the taste buds that transported you to the Chaat Bombs of Delhi.
The first real surprise came as a samosa, disguised as black bomb cheese. When cutting into the edible charcoal pastry, it revealed a tasty filling of edamame beans, sweetcorn and Lancashire black bomb cheese.
This was the first nod to local ingredients being used throughout the menu, with Bobby intent on utilising fine ingredients that are from around the area, rather then just bringing in ones from India.
Next up was one of my favorite dishes of the night – Crispy Butter Chicken Tikka Kofta. A crispy panko coated bonbon filled with butter chicken and cheddar filling served on a tempered turmeric mayonnaise. Despite not sounding like it should, the dish once again reminded us of some of the dishes that we would experience in our favorite restaurants in India.
Hand Dived Scallops served with Merguez Sausage was loved by India (My other half not the country!)
Other small plates included a slow cooked and seared lamb rib-lets or a Cornish shrimp and duck egg Akuri Bao.
Already full, a few of the large plates made their way to our table to try.
Another nod to Lancashire came in a Cheshire goat curry and leak hot pot. Full flavoured curried mince goat was combined with leeks and topped with sliced potatoes and baked.
Sea Bass in a special Kerala coconut sauce pleased some, however was a little sweet for my taste.
And a pulled duck biryanis was topped with ducks eggs and cooked in a light coconut sauce.
Finishing up the tasting was a dessert of Masala Chai Kulfi served with Mancunian bee honey crumble and a side of Falooda. Whilst Falooda is not everyone’s cup of tea (One person described it like being strawberry sweet laces), the Chai Kulfi delighted – with its sweet spice and milky taste being reminiscent of the sweet chai served in small cups aboard trains in India – I could almost hear the yell of ‘Chai, Chai, Coffee, Chai’
The dishes we previewed is just half of those being unveiled and I’m excited to see what else the venue has to offer.
A range of wines have also been selected to complement the new dishes, unfortunately as I was driving, these had be missed on this occasion, however a peak into the wine room seemed to show some seriously fine wines would be available for matching.
For enquiries or to book to try out these new dishes for yourself, simply head over to the Vermilion website here.
Disclaimer – I was invited to the press preview of Vermillion: Awakened and as such was not asked to pay for the dishes consumed. As always the opinions are impartial and honest.