The truffle season is here. Mostly harvested in Europe between the months of June and November, truffles are known for their strong flavour and exorbitant rates. With the Indian palate fast developing a taste for world cuisine, chefs here are set to serve this gourmet delicacy, no matter the price.
“I import white truffles during season time, which is usually between September-end and December,” says restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, who makes it a point to serve the tubers at her Delhi dine-in, Diva in Greater Kailash-II. Apart from the popular risotto with truffles, the restaurant will also serve other truffle specials this month. Expect your bill to reflect the luxury of sampling what gastronomes call “the diamond of the kitchen”—10g of truffles over pasta would cost around Rs3,500.
Potato salad with truffles. Photo courtesy: Caperberry
“Winter truffles cost a good Rs35,000 upwards for 100g and have a very robust flavour,” says senior sous-chef Mayank Tewari of the Smoke House Deli and Grill, Delhi. The different varieties of truffles are determined by their harvest time. “Summer truffles are more subtle in taste but it’s the stronger flavoured winter ones which are people’s choice,” he adds.
Tiwari’s restaurant serves a risotto with truffle paste that costs around Rs575. He, too, makes it a point to procure fresh truffles during season. For those who have developed this expensive taste, he’ll add shavings of truffles to enhance its flavour.
The Sevilla restaurant at The Claridges, New Delhi, serves a porcini veloute soup with black truffles at Rs 450 per portion, all year round. But the tubers are in “meagre quantity”, says executive chef Ravi Saxena. The imported tubers can cost a fortune. “We use a lot of truffle oil and preserved black truffle, which is available throughout the year, since it’s the aroma that’s important,” he adds.
Vanilla bean panacotta with truffles. Photo courtesy: Caperberry
Executive chef Abhijit Saha of Caperberry restaurant in Bangalore says, “This vegetable is best served fresh. If they are not in season then we, too, prefer using truffle oil.” He uses a truffle-like hybrid Indian mushroom grown in Karnataka and truffle oil to replicate truffle-based dishes such as baked cherry tomato raisins and truffle, pan-seared foie gras with saffron poached pears and truffle, truffle risotto, tagliolini with truffles, duck confit with green apple salad and truffle sauce, and vanilla bean pana cotta with truffle. These are on offer between July and August only. However, for purists, there’s no comparison between the taste of this “puff ball” mushroom and the real deal.
Truffles are bound to refine your taste, so go ahead, splurge.