I had never imagined that Indian food could look so good, until I saw this.
I grew up eating mom’s mouth-watering dal kachoris with raswale aloo, gulabjamuns with kulfi and matar paneer with aloo parathas. While Indian food is etched in my memory as the best food there is, I have always imagined it to be presented in a rustic fashion. There is a certain appeal in eating kachoris in patras (bowls made with dried leaves) or gulabjamun and kulfi in mitti kulhads (earthen bowls). Even so, it isn’t how I would ever imagine Indian food to be presented at a world-class restaurant to Diplomats, Princes or Rockstars.
It is a rare talent to preserve the essence of a cuisine, to allow the flavours in a plate to reflect its origin and yet, plate it like a piece of art. Chef Vineet Bhatia is an inventor and also, a researcher whose work has helped me, and several other young professionals look at Indian food in a new light. His association with the Oberoi Hotels and Ziya, in particular is very long. If you look at the Ziya menu over the years you will see the evolution of Indian cuisine in their plates.
As styles of presenting food evolve over time, you can see the reflection of popular global food trends in the way Ziya offers its menu. What I loved about the menu that was introduced recently by Chef Vineet at Ziya, was the echo of our roots in every plate. While he has always kept the integrity of the cuisine intact in his creations, he also manages to add Oomph! in his dishes. Whether it is serving curry leaf tempered prawns in an uneven coconut shell, or the theatrics of sprinkling burnt onion powder on a pumpkin seekh kebab entre or even his signature childhood memories sweets platter, his plates always manage to take your breath away.
The secret is his deep understanding of the local food and techniques that he has built by traveling and researching Indian food over the years from great cooks scattered in remote areas across the country. His culinary vision of Indian food has resulted in the growth and evolution of the cuisine. Many have taken inspiration, many have tried to ape him blindly, but each time he puts food on your table, you can’t help being in awe.
The rustic style of Ziya’s new menu appealed more to me because it brings that same sense of contentment as when I ate those patras of Kachori & Aloo or those Kulhads with hot gheewale gulabjamuns with ice cold malai kulfi. My favourites on Ziya’s new menu
Grilled Curry Leaf Prawn with fried idli & coconut chutney
[Vegetarian Fried Cauliflower]
Macadamia nuts crusted Aubergine with peas upma and kokum chutney
[Non Vegetarian Chilean Sea Bass]
Sesame crusted Chicken Tikka on a bed of Chowpatty Bhaji with fried Idiyappams and edible flowers
[Vegetarian Paneer Tikka]
Pumpkin Dill Seekh with edamame & red pepper Koshimbir and chickpea spring onion tava pulao sprinkled with Burnt Onion Powder
[Chilli Burnt Butter Lobster]
Achari Bharwan Lauki with raiwale aloo and vegetarian spinach Galouti kebab with saunf ki makhni
[Non Vegetarian Achari Tandoori Lamb]
Coffee Halwa with Gulabjamun
Sweet Platter with Chhena Rabdi, Banana Bread Donut, Orange & Chocolate Panacotta, Chocolate dipped Mysore Pak, Cashewnut Kulfi and Bitter Chocolate.