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Vive la France!

Forty-eight restaurants in India were a part of the celebration in the French foreign ministry’s Good France initiative

(Above: All the participating chefs of the Good France Project gather for a group photograph before the event kicked off)

In order to introduce and celebrate the nuances of French cuisine, Laurent Fabius, French minister for foreign affairs and international development, and world-renowned three-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse launched the Goût de France (Good France) project in January 2015. This special initiative was to generate interest in French gastronomy worldwide. A committee of international chefs, led by Ducasse, selected the final list of participating restaurants (based on the menu curated) and among the finalists, 48 restaurants were located in India. India ranks 4th on this list, after Italy (96), Japan (61) and Brazil (55), and is just ahead of the United States (46). While you might not be able to eat at all 48, we’ve picked our favourite menus from some of the participating restaurants. Warning: foodgasm ahead.

This beautiful eatery at the Sofitel Hotel, Mumbai, had put together an eclectic spread featuring traditional French offerings such as chicken liver parfait, beetroot glazed lamb loins and pulled lamb croquettes, along with fusion innovations.

Our picks:
– Gastrique of pomelo fish (or lobster)
– Smoked catfish curd rice with lobster and cottage cheese crisp, turmeric crayfish jelly, crumble of seaweed and sea foam
– Chocolate cremeux, masala tea brûlée with rose sable and apricots

At Qube
At Qube created a perfect marriage of French basics and Italian influences.

Our picks:
– Cold lobster consommé with black truffles, artichokes, mousseline lime and spring vegetables
– Roasted veal in an orange reduction with carrots, mustard seed and parsley
– Wolf pave meuniere and crispy Breton pancakes with roasted porcini mushrooms, bell onions and asparagus

This reputed restaurant at the Trident, Gurgaon, stressed on local Indian produce such as Himachali pears and Shimla plums to infuse an Indian twist to the French delicacies.

Our picks:
– Pavé of watermelon, marinated with sundried heirloom tomato vinaigrette with wild rucola and feta
– Pan seared John Dory with a truffled lentil salad, baby carrots and Ooty artichokes
– Aged brie with Shimla plum confiture, served with wholewheat baguettes and Kashmir walnuts

A well-loved eatery based at the Trident, Mumbai, Frangipani stressed on traditional French flavours and brought back clean and pristinely presented classics.

Our picks:
– Salad of soused red beet with a chevrécentre
– Pan-fried scallops and crispy skin sea bass
– Open range lamb cutlets

The Chambers Dining Room
This Kolkata-based restaurant used traditional Bengali ingredients to add interesting regional flavours to their French fare.

Our picks:
– Red spinach fritters with dried apples and spiced labneh
– Bay of Bengal prawns cooked French-style, with herb and panko-crumbed chicken
– Valrhona chocolate marquise

The Olive Bar & Kitchen
A Mumbai favourite, this restaurant put together a fantastic spread with ingredients such as portobello mushrooms, bourride reductions and halibut to create quite a Christmas-y affair.

Our picks:
– Roasted chicken with mustard-tossed potatoes and a cranberry, pistachio and endive salad
– Comte gougère with beer and winter fruit jelly
– Wildberryflaugnarde with a chocolate almond tuille and vanilla-caramel sand

This Hyderabad restaurant created a sumptuous menu with a variety of interesting ingredients

Our picks:
– Chicken liver pâté served with rosemary brioche and truffle honey
– Herb-crusted oysters in a champagne sauce with shallots and fresh cream
– Slow-cooked pork belly with a pearl barley and port wine reduction, beetroot and spinach puree

Threesixtyone Degrees
One of the best (and funnily named) restaurants at the Oberoi, Gurgaon, Threesixtyone Degrees created an elaborate menu with scallops, red snappers and Australian lamb racks.

Our picks:
– Char grilled red snapper, wrapped in banana leaf and marinated with Bengal mustard, fresh coconut cream and lime leaves
– Sous vide Australian lamb rack with a butternut squash puree, confit of Jicama, charred baby carrots and mint jelly
– Baked camembert soufflé, carom seed biscuits and cinnamon-stewed apricots

This true-blue Italian restaurant at the Oberoi, Mumbai, curated an Italy-inspired French menu.

Our picks:
– Carpaccio of scallops with tuna tartare, avocado relish and salmon roe in passion fruit vinaigrette
– Chilean sea bass with citrus beurre blanc, smoked potatoes and garlic cream
– Herb-crusted lamb chops with baked onions, aubergines and ricotta in a raisin jus