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Stones & Malts @Oko, Lalit Ashok, Bangalore

Grilling meats on a block of Salt Stone is not just exotic, but uber-healthy. I experienced this for the first time courtesy the Stones and Malts Festival held @ Oko, Lalit Ashok Bangalore. Himalayan salt block is the stone of choice and is originally imported from Pakistan, which also happens to be the world’s largest supplier. It essentially adds all the beneficial minerals to the meat and is way tastier than other options to grill. This is an experience in itself, and when Sandhya Nair invited me for a super-exclusive tasting session, I was ecstatic to say the least. Oh, and did I forget to mention the pairing? The best Single Malts in the planet with the best meats cooked the healthiest way possible, enriched with essential minerals. Now that calls for a toast!

I will come to the pairing of the Single Malt a bit later. We started our evening by the open-air grill of Oko with a humble Amuse Bouche comprising of Compressed Melon soaked overnight with Pink Salt, Himalayan Honey and Lemon Juice. Chef Mayank explained to us in detail about the various modes of cooking options available- Himalayan Salt Brick, Lava Stone Grill or the Charcoal Grill. You can get to choose your preference from the special menu along with the right choice of Marinade and Sauce from an extensive list. The Amuse Bouche boar traces of the salt and was just perfect for our culinary voyage.

We started with Seafood as per the special menu and chose the Scallops marinated with Oko (Special) Spice. The right accompaniment was Talisker (10 Years) on the rocks. The woodiness of my scotch and the smoky flavour from the marinade complimented each other well.

Next up were the Tiger Prawns in Trio of Thai Spices consisting of Galangal, Basil and Lemongrass and the John Dory in Asian Greens. The latter was definitely an acquired taste keeping in mind the salty flavour of the fish. The Yellow Fin Tuna served up next definitely stole the show in the genre with its unique flavour accentuated with Oko Spice - a combination so unique that needs to be experienced. I was thoroughly sipping my Talisker throughout the above courses.

The meats were next in line, and we started with some good old Pork Belly Satay. Chef’s recommendation was to use the Honey, Ginger, Chilli and Soya which complimented the texture of the meat. We tasted the Tenderloin Skewers with Trio of Thai Spices again after trying out some Chicken Breast fingers in the same marinade used for the Pork Belly. The Emperor of the Evening- Lamb Chops in Sesame Garlic and Coriander paired with Glenlivet 12 Years on the rocks left me craving for more. The succulence of the Chops and the smoothness of the Malt was pure decadence. The final meat of the evening were tender duck breasts cooked in Oko spice. This was again an acquired taste and appreciated only by a select few.

The right Malt pairing is the key to this joyous and unique experience. Although on for just a few more days, August 7th to be precise, Oko intends to include the Stone Grill and Malt Pairing in their permanent A la Carte-something to look forward to very soon.

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