The Dish: Mustard Mango Chile Caramel Sundae
Where to Get It: Indique, 3512-14 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 244-6600, indique.com
What It Is: The mustard-seed gelato that serves as the base of this dessert isn’t the only strange thing on the plate. Chef K.N. Vinod also cooks up a sauce of caramelized sugar, butter, coconut milk, mango puree, and whole red chiles to complement the gelato. It’s accompanied on the plate by fresh mango, grated coconut mixed with jaggery (blocks of unrefined cane sugar found in India), and a translucent fried curry leaf on top of the gelato.
What It Tastes Like: You know how you’ve always thought mustard and ice cream would be a great combo? No? That’s too bad, because this is actually pretty damn tasty. The key to this dish is balance, with all of the elements—spicy, earthy, tropical fruity, and creamy—working in concert to create something better than the sum of its parts. It’s tough to pin down exactly what’s happening when it hits your mouth, but it does suggest a faint wasabi-like quality.
The Story: Indique recently underwent a dining room refresh and menu overhaul after 14 years in business. A cornerstone of that reinvention was to bring in bartender Carlie Steiner of Stir Bartending Co. to revamp the cocktail menu, which now includes a drink made with tequila blanco, lime, mint, and toasted mustard seed syrup. The restaurant was already collaborating on a dessert with Dolci Gelati owner Gianluigi Dellaccio, and a surplus of mustard syrup during the research and development phase of the new cocktail menu brought two and two together. Vinod says he was also looking to improve his bottom line after years of noticing that traditional Indian desserts generally weren’t appealing to American diners. “They always used to find Indian desserts very boring or too sweet,” he says. Now, people are taking notice of the interesting flavors.