As I seat myself in the cool comforts of Eden Pavillion inside ITC Sonar, a glass of Tomato Mattha is placed before me. If the chef did not tell me it had tomatoes in it, I wouldn’t have known, such was the level of subtlety in the drink, with a little bit of roasted cumin, fennel, chillies and coriander, pounded and added to the cooled yoghurt. Its refreshing in the summer, and cools down the body, and that is precisely the aim of this particular menu.
|Chef Gunjan Goela|
Chef Gunjan Goela is intent on cooking a huge array of food which would not only be good to taste, but also good for you. Her recipes are influenced by texts like the Charaka Sanhita, and she creates spice mixes which are approved of by the ancient masters, combining satvik and rajasik flavors together seamlessly. The idea is to bring in elements of ayurveda into the food, to make it tasty and healthy, especially in this summer heat.
We are served an assortment of appetizers, and well, my favorite things are on the menu. A small bowl of ghugni is placed in front of me. I notice that it has the same smoky flavor from the roasted masalas added to my drink. In fact, all the appetizers have it, because cumin adds to digestion, explains the chef.
The sweet potato chaat was a beautiful pairing of perfectly cooked sweet potatoes mixed with a hot and sour chutney and spice mix, topped with some chopped coriander. It was simple, and the sweetness of the potatoes worked with the tangy concoction.
I was not that happy with the dahi bhalla though. Although the yoghurt was creamy and the mango and fennel seed chutney was a beautiful thing on its own, the thinness of the dahi bhalla made it chewy and that’s a big turn-off in my books.
I sneakily made a move towards the gol gappas, served with the same mango and fennel seed chutney and some tangy tamarind and mint water. The texture of the gol gappa shells is interesting – quite different from the local favorite – phuchka. I was about to fill up on them when the main courses were placed in front of us.
To be fair, I lost count of the number of dishes served to us, but I started with this very interesting ripe mango curry, which I wasn’t a big fan of. It fell short of becoming a chutney and was too sweet for me to like it as a curry. Plus, the ripe mango overwhelmed the dish somehow. I did like the namak ke parathe that I consumed with it though.
In fact, for me, a better accompaniment was the Ghwar Phalli, also known as the cluster beans, stir-fried and served. We also were served beetroot puris which I conveniently forgot to photograph.
But the beetroot puris were paired superbly with the palak mangori ki kadhi, which was redolent with a mildly tangy base and the vegetable balls were supremely soft and melt-in-your-mouth.
But the beauty was also probably in the perfectly cooked rice, with peas and raisins in it. We enjoyed this with the gatte paneer, little koftas of paneer floating in a tomato-based curry, which accompanied it perfectly. A plate of Bajre ki Khichri waited for us, and although its super soothing this summer, it was too bland for me to like it.
The idea of the meal is to eat but without feeling heavy. At this point, I realized that I was feeling quite heavy indeed, but then, we were faced with the infamous Delhi bedmi puri and aloo ki sabzi. Now here is the thing – I went to Delhi and at an infamous place to eat this particular combination. I have been craving it for a considerable period of time, and I am glad someone makes it well!
The Bedmi Puri is essentially puris stuffed with a masala-laden urad daal mixture which makes the puri super tasty. Here, they came piping hot to our table, and I picked a couple of them up, and added a generous bowl of the potato curry it came with.
The Potato Curry served with the Bedmi Puri is a symphony of perfection, with whole spices, the tang from tomato and amchur, and a thin gravy which is perfect for dipping the puri pieces in. After consuming two bowls, I was sure I could not move again, or eat another bite, but the Chef proved me wrong once again. A platter of desserts was placed in front – containing a lovely rabdi with falooda and sabza seeds on top. There was a bowl of kheer, and a simple gujiya, which took me back to my childhood.
The Uttam Bhoj menu is part of the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet at Eden Pavillion, ITC Sonar. The breakfast buffet is from 7 am to 10:45 am, the lunch buffet is from 12:30 pm to 2.45 pm, and the dinner buffet is from 7 pm to 11.30 pm, and is available till the 7th of June, 2015. The dinner buffet is priced at 2250/- plus tax per person.