Fresh food for the body politic at the 71-year-old Constitution Club
FFood gurus Ashay Dhopatkar and Neha Lakhani, aka the Troublesome Duo, aim to stir up a little tamasha at the 71-year-old Constitution Club— which has been serving the same pedestrian desi staple to ministers and other MPs for decades.
“When we came onboard as culinary directors in September last year, our brief was to modernise the entire operations and bring it on par with international standards,” says Dhopatkar, who has worked with Michelin-starred chefs Herbert Berger and Gordon Ramsay.
Set up shortly after Indepen-
dence in 1947, the Constitution Club “was opened with the idea to have a place outside the precincts of Parliament,” says MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who took up the task of revamping the club in 1999. With a gym, spa, badminton court and swimming pool, it’s a neutral ground for politicians to meet, Rudy says. But it’s also become a social spot for members and their families.
The menu at the club’s Coffee Break canteen currently features nostalgia favourites like desi pizzas with a topping of sautéed capsicum and onion mix tossed in garam masala, and pineapple pastries flavoured with artificial essence. But with three new restaurants planned, the Troublesome Duo aims to add a serious dose of sophistication.
“We want to change the way ministers eat,” says Dhopatkar. To do that, the consultants have fitted cooking stations with cast iron French cooktops, and added fire guns, siphons, and pipettes for molecular gastronomy to the kitchen arsenal.
Thin-crust pizzas topped with buffalo mozzarella and truffle, mustard, basa and even a BBQ-pulled chicken topping have replaced the Nirula’s-style pizza of yore. And the team has added fresh salads, paninis, sandwiches and pastas, along with conducting trials for a healthy detox menu which will include protein shakes and smoothies for the gym and spa.
In the bakery, too, old-school pastries have been ditched for cookies, muffins and French delicacies like Mille Feuille and Chocolate Eclairs.
“We have inherited a rich legacy and the pressure of modernising the dining experience of the political diaspora in the country is both inspiring and challenging,” says Lakhani, an MBA and Cordon Bleu graduate. “Initially, the club menu was very basic. The kind of menu that would keep your hunger at bay but won’t blow your socks off!”