Le Dupleix in Puducherry just rolled out a Creole menu that is so good, it would be shellfish not to share!
It’s been 15 whole years since Ross found his lobster, but I found mine only after a visit to Le Dupleix, the 18th century luxury heritage hotel that’s been a haven for the gourmet soul in Puducherry. Called ‘Lobster Le Dupleix’, the dish, a part of their brand new menu, is served with a luscious lemon parsley risotto on the side. Believe me when I tell you, the lobster meat gratinated with a Kashmiri saffron-infused bechamel is to die for!
If you’re a Puducherry regular, then there’s very little we need to tell you about Le Dupleix, but for the proverbial folks who came in late, here’s the 15-second-version: Set just off the Rue De La Caserne, this refurbished colonial resort used to be the French Mayor’s house and the wide columns and art deco touches set the perfect mood if you’re looking for some age-old indulgence.
Anyway, back to the lobster. “We use what is called the rock lobster, as sourcing them locally gets a bit difficult. Puducherry only has sand lobsters, so we source it from Chennai,” explains in-house Chef Prem Mohan. What goes into making this lip-smacking dish is quite intense as the chef, evidently excited, went on to tell us. “First, we clean the lobster and take out the meat, cut it into large chunks and then the shell is cleaned and boiled. During this process, the shell’s colour changes to a visibly dark orangish-red when the heat touches it. The chunks of lobster meat are then cooked in the saffron bechamel sauce and white wine is added to it,” he says. The risotto, with a tinge of lemon gives it the right amount of sourness to complement a warm summer afternoon by the beach. Cheese, sourced from Auroville, which is a signature for almost all the nine items on the new menu, steals the show.
Miso you long time
The lobster was followed by Miso Glazed fish — a Japanese style fresh fish fillet marinated in sweet miso paste, which was glazed and grilled to perfection. Then came the Creole Shrimps, which were the perfect blend of Indian spices with the otherwise French/Mediterranean cuisine — necessitating a history lesson of sorts. You see, almost 2,000 years ago, when the Romans were using Arikamedu (just outside Pondy) as a trading post, they discovered Indian spices. The spices that went from India mixed with French cuisine and gave birth to Creole cuisine, as it travelled around the world via the French colonies. This seasoned across-the-ages influence is was quite visible in Le Dupleix’s new menu — and I must say that I’m quite glad.
“We came up with the new dishes after taking several things into consideration — be it the cuisines, be it the organic and local ingredients, or the fresh meat. Dilip Kapur, who heads Hidesign Hotels, while travelling around the world has been to numerous restaurants, spoken to chefs and that has a significant influence on what we serve to our customers. Tourists visiting us from across the world often ask us, ‘What is the local Pondicherry specialty? We want to try something that is from here.’ That is why we have come up with this brand new menu consisting of organic, sustainable global cuisine with healthy, local ingredients at its core,” adds Chef Mohan.
If there’s one thing that unites most of the items on the new menu, it is cheese. Organic cheese that is locally sourced from Auroville. The in-house chef personally recommends the Butternut Squash and Parmesan pudding which is grated to perfection with fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Why Butternut squash? It lends a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin to the wholesome concoction. This specific recipe also includes French baguette bread, eggs, ground
nutmeg, pepper, and low fat milk.
What a crêpe!
It would be a veritable sin to not say anything about the desserts that came in the end. The classic Crêpes Suzette — a combination of French crêpes, honey, butter and homemade vanilla ice cream — melts in your mouth effortlessly. It is sweet and tangy at the same time as you discover a hit of orange in the dessert. Their version of the Tiramisu was also quite enjoyable, though the Auroville cheese in it — we‘ve always been told that you need to go to either Kodai or Philly to get it right — is sublime.With flavours like this, cook me some Creole love any day of the week!
Meal for two INR 2,600.