RESTAURANT REVIEW – Nueva by Chef Michael Swamy

restaurant review NuevaWith minimalist cooking, stirred by nature and garnished with love, the distance between dull and delicious can be measured in the molecular realm of flavors at Nueva – India’s first Latin American restaurant by celebrity Chef Michael Swamy.

Nueva seems to make a bold statement – embrace newness, and transform chaos to calm. Art comes alive in all forms as tall black, heavy double doors open into a chic, sophisticated space, that disconnects you with the outside world, and induces you with its finishes and alluring lighting.

We’ll tell you a little later why Nueva served us a lunch that was memorable, but first, let’s set the table. The cutlery is outlandish and the ambience makes you feel special. Appetite builds as tall glass panels transcend mystery into transparency, and you watch chefs work diligently in a state of the art kitchen.

The menu is inventive and is devoted to the pleasure of nature. It prefers the flavor spectrum with lots of fresh produce, herbs, vegetables, fruits and a general feeling of health. Staff is pleasant and their smile adds to the adventure at Nueva.

The meal begins with an assortment of indulging in-house breads and spreads. After fresh fruit drinks, we directly dive into our first main serving – the Tea Salad. Yes….tea in a salad. The eclectic mix of nutty, lemony, vegetal, earthy flavors is complex, exciting and inviting. The side of steamed green tea leaves, pounded into a paste with walnuts, adds wonderful texture, and compliments the crunchy ingredients and tea’s traditional bitter-sweet astringency. A legendary salad!

Chef Michael takes the storm outside the cup by keeping our taste buds on full alert with his house speciality, the Tea Smoked Chicken. Served on a bed of black quinoa, with a side of inlaid greens, the presentation is a bolt of surprise and pleasure combined. Tender, moist, herbal chicken is in the harmony of wonderful flavors, induced with the density of indigenous ingredients, smoky finish and a lingering aftertaste. Quinoa is a careful pairing as it cleanses the palate after every tannic bite and compliments the astringent, drying, puckering sensation and mouthfeel. You must order this!

After the shifting, swirling delectable flavors, the desserts have a meditative effect. While Yogurt Coconut Pannacotta is just as delectable as it sounds, with fresh in-house multigrain granola and blueberries. The Cinnamon Tiramisu is sleep-inducing and therapeutic, with delicious, spicy, creamy smoothness. A gastronomic afternoon of flawless take off and a smooth landing.

Some chefs cook. Others create. Chef Michael’s tea-infused menu is an enthralling sensory experience of tastes, smell and even sight. He loves tea and has steeped it in versatile starters, inspired main dishes and tempting beverages. Tea, in its many forms, is one of the oldest ingredients in the kitchen and we love how Chef Michael is bringing the latest global trend of cooking with tea, in India. A trend we adore and promote.

We believe that a good meal experience is like a cup of good tea. The amalgamation of unique flavors, awakens senses and begins a mindful journey –  faraway from our chaotic modern lives. And when it all comes right from the earth, the symphony is magical in the stillness of our minds.

As vivacious as samba, Nueva is colorful, flavorful, exotic, artistic and will make you curious about South American culture, and why it’s taking over the global culinary landscape. Nueva is Chef Michael’s voyage of love between his admiration for South American food movement and his culinary wisdom, which he celebrates with a stunning Tapas bar on the ground floor of his restaurant.

Thank you Nueva for your hospitality and a great lunch. Next time, we won’t hesitate to order your Tea Salad again and again.

Address: Sangam Courtyard, R.K Puram, New Delhi
Reservations: Recommended
Hours: Noon to Midnight

TEA Trip One – Rishikesh, The Yoga Capital Of The World!

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The increasing worldwide interest in yoga has made Rishikesh a hot destination for all yoga lovers from around the world. People, who love yoga, also consider tea as a spiritual medium to heal and connect with their inner self. To explore the emerging tea culture in Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world, ‘Love for Tea’ decided to hit the road and explore the city.

Rishikesh, a nature buff’s paradise, has a serene and calm ambience, that will completely absorb you. With both relaxed and reverent vibes- right on the bank of river ganga, with fresh mountain air, sunrise over the peaks, incessantly ringing temple bells and power packed yoga centers and devotees, the city is a must visit tea destination.

After checking into a beautiful room at Tapovan, on the hilltop, we started our day of adventure. We walked through the forest from our hotel and reached Swiss Garden Restaurant. It’s a beautiful bistro in the middle of forest- with huge variety of great tea, awesome food, calm ambience, trance music and yes, free wifi. This place is a magnet for tea lovers and I highly recommend it.

Some of the teas that I tried here over the next few days are Mint tea, Herbal tea, Ayurvedic tea, Honey ginger lemon and Nepali tea. Nepali chai, as called by the locals, is made with spices without any tea leaves. It’s delicious and a must have. I had to connect with the head chief and learnt the recipe first hand. The recipe for Nepali Chai lands on my blog pretty soon.

We spent our next three days hiking, trekking, visiting numerous temples and exploring tea at local restaurants & cafes. Most of them had interesting menus for all taste. Chilling by the shore of the Ganga and making new friends was our normal activity there.

One of the memorable places during my visit was the Third Eye Restaurant, where we spent an evening after a long day at the beach. Next to the Beatles café, ‘The Third Eye Restaurant’ is another beautiful place with a breath taking view. We spent crazy hours over many rounds of tea hereThe Tibetan Restaurant in Tapovan is another nice place to explore, with awesome variety of tea and multi-cultural cuisines. This place is packed with foreign travellers also because of a German bakery next door and Baba massage center right in front.

The organic and spiritual energy in Rishikesh reflects in the tea here, which besides being completely different in it’s presentation, is mostly made from fresh herbs, that offers a unique tea experience.

Best time to visit Rishikesh is during the winters. Tapovan is a must explore destination for all nature lovers. Thus we continued our Tea quest further towards the east of India, where the tea was already brewing for our arrival.