Kitschy and Super Cool

Everything Ritu does is delicious! Whether you’re a Diva fan from a decade ago or a Latitude newbie, the food she doles out is always exceptional. I’ve always been a fan, even before the celebrity-dom. There’s that something which differentiates the food by Chef Ritu Dalmia, and you know you could take anyone to any of her restaurants and they would love it. So going to her new venture, Diva Kitsch, was terribly exciting! Opened in collaboration with the Sachdev sisters’ lifestyle store, Kitsch, Diva Kitsch is the new kitchen in town and an awesome one at that. On the first floor of a fabulous location, the restaurant sits atop an exclusive, luxury store (for me the good news was that they stocked stuff from The Wishing Chair!) where you can buy the likes of YSL, D&G and plenty more! You can exhaust yourself shopping and then tuck in or start shopping on a full tummy, like we did. Diva Kitsch is pastel, white, fairy light adorned, and adorable. It’s airy and spacious with a smattering of quaint and kitschy accents. It’s the kind of place a bunch of girlfriends would meet over Cosmos and gossip. The staff is attentive and well acquainted with the menu which helps because so many dishes are terrifically new in terms of the marrying of flavours. In fact I was so inspired just by reading the menu, that I made a dinner of steamed fish with grilled watermelon! Ingredients like panko, water chestnuts, udon, taro and wasabi, scream Asia at you and then you see Pork Vindaloo and Schnitzel and it warms the cockles of the heart!

We started with a “small” plate of Very Fresh Beetroot and shredded coconut with Guacamole and toasted Hazelnut (390). I’m not a beetroot person but this salad got me going! I loved the subtle sweetness of the soft beet cubes with the tropical-ness of coconut and the hazelnuts were such a lovely texture over the creamy guacamole. This was a very new dish for me and I loved it. But what came next was so darned good, it blew me away. There was something so familiar yet so new about the Shredded Duck Salad with Banana blossoms, Lychees and Larb (560), that this is now going to be a bona fide comfort food! For me Larb means papaya salad, so this was such a fabulous contrast – the duck was superb and the lychees a divine inclusion! However, it was the third choice that really changed the game. The simple sounding Prawn and Pomelo Salad with Garlic Coconut Dressing (485) was all of a jumbo prawn, butterflied, grilled and served with grilled watermelon and the creamiest coconut dressing ever. I don’t mean to be dramatic but this is the dish to come here for, or at least start an epic meal with.

Then there were the Prawn and Japanese Ginger Crystal Dumplings (460) which were translucent, light and had the definitive sweetness of fresh prawns. By now I was so curious about the main course, my heart was flitting! I had zeroed in on the Vindaloo mainly because I was dying to see what Chef Dalmia had done with it! I ordered the Pork Vindaloo with ginger tossed Quinoa Pilaf and steamed Bao (680). It was so so good; hearty, red, fiery but not deathly pungent, lovely sweetness of well cooked pork and tartness of Goan vinegar, much more than I envisioned. Here’s another example of a chef converting me to quinoa! My other most favourite Asian flavour is Massaman, a Muslim/Thai dish, that’s like a tropical version of Indian curries. So we had the Lamb, Potatoes and Baby Onions stewed in Massaman curry with Wok Fried Greens (675) and it was lovely. Not like the usual Massaman curries, this was differentiated by the choice of meat and a certain lightness to the gravy. Truly good eating. The thing with Ritu’s kitchens is that there is always a special consideration to the vegetarian aspect of the menu which can be seen by the inclusion of lotus stem, jack fruit, tofu and pumpkin; some of which are so under utilized that it’s nice to see their reprisal in fine dining menus.

The afternoon ended on a spectacular note, I guess the dessert Gods have heard my grumbling. The desserts at Diva Kitsch were sensational. By this time I was tweeting my elation because everyone should eat here at least once! We had the Jaggery Creme Brulee (290), another one of those crazy sensations of something you remember from your grandma’s kitchen combined with something you had in Europe! But the true stars were the Banana Spring Rolls with burnt Palm Sugar sauce and Ginger ice cream (290). What a fantastically thought out platter, everything married so well. The spring rolls were crispy on top and soft as you reached the banana, the tart palm sugar sauce was something you taste as it touches your tongue and don’t even get me started on the ginger ice cream! I don’t think I will ever go back to regular flavours again; there was a coconut ice cream I had at another Asian restaurant and then there was this one! Diva Kitsch is a must do, you may even run into Ritu, whose suggestion ares the best, so hope you do!

Parul Pratap Shirazi

Parul is a trained Chef, professional food stylist, cook, food blogger and social media strategist. She loves grapes in her salad.