It is very rare to find a restaurant that expresses a true labour of love. Lavaash by Saby is a peek into Chef Sabyasachi Gorai’s childhood experiences. Growing up in the coal belt of Asansol, Chef Sabyasachi’s early childhood was spent under the influence of the Armenian culture. ‘Lavaash’ literally meaning bread gives life to these memories. The admixture of Armenian cooking in the Bengali cuisine will leave even a true blue bong astonished. There is a splattering of the famous Gondhoraj Lemon which still grows in my ancestral home along with the Bengali staple Kasundi (mustard sauce along with green mangoes and other spices). There are also some modern spinoffs as Chef Saby uses cheeses made from the region. The salted Bandel reminds you of the steamy, overcrowded Bandel Local on the main line while the Calimpong reminds you of the coolness of the hills.
It’s also the scenic beauty of the place that draws you towards it. Located in the scenic Mehrauli complex with a chic bohemian setup which takes you away from the busy life of the city. Lavaash has a calm serenity that soothes your frayed nerves. The food plays no small part in it. Chef Saby’s acolyte, Chef Megha Kohli has researched in depth of the Bengali cuisine. Her face lights up every time someone recognizes the Bengali ingredients, sauces or the dishes.
Start off with a Spiced Pide Pie (INR 250) as the soft bread explodes on your palate with the creaminess of the Kalimpong cheese, the nuttiness of the egg and the omnipresent Lavaash spice. There’s also a Crispy Lentil Sticks (INR 200) which is a spinoff on the traditional Dhoka (don’t mistaken that for betrayal, Bengali cuisine has a dish named Dhokar Dalna) with a chutney that might befuddle a lot of North Indians. Bengalis have a history of using coriander chutneys instead of mint chutney and Chef Saby uses his grandmother’s recipe to incite the memories of my childhood. The Jurassic Cheese Lavash Pizza (INR 500) is a thin crust pizza like never taste before. With all the three types of Bengali cheese making their presence felt, the arugula, pine nuts and onion seeds add a flavour profile which is quite unlike the other thin crust pizzas.
One of Armenia’s speciality is the Tolma, which basically incorporates stuffed vegetables. One of the best one’s on the menu is the Prawn Tolma (INR 500). Onion stuffed with coconut milk, ginger, chilli, prawn and kasundi. There is a beautiful interplay of the spicy, hot tangy flavours cooled down with the creaminess and sweetness of the coconut milk and the cooked onion. But it’s the section on My Childhood that draws us in. Ranging from the eye catching Kabiraji Cutlet (INR 400) to the royal Mutton Rezala (INR 550), Chef Gorai introduces Bengali street food in an avatar never seen before.
The Lamb Koobideh (INR 500) is a treat for sore eyes and hungry tummies. With contrasting colours of red, green and yellow on a white flatbread, the succulent meat sprinkled with a dash of Gondhoraj Lemon and the Kasundi are a meal in itself. The mains include a Chicken Kalagyosh (INR 500) which is a Armenian chickpea and chicken stew along with a Lavash Fish (INR 600) which is Betki wrapped and cooked in a Lavash bread along with spices.
We end our meal with a decadent Milk Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake (INR 350) and The Old Monk Mousse (INR 350). The most essential part of the desserts are that these aren’t overtly sweet by retaining the tartness of the cherries and the bitterness of the coffee.
Lavaash By Saby is a treat for anyone who enjoys food. Just food without the cacophony of noise. People who make love to their palates.
Meal for 2: INR 2000