Food review: Lavaash by Saby
Armenian food in Delhi? Who would have thunk? But Lavaash by Saby is here, helmed by Sabyasachi Gorai and Megha Kohli, and what a delightful little place it is. A cheerful Persian-Mediterranean, two-storey space with bright tiles and colourful walls, the decor is dominated by peacock motifs. It seats 22 inside, 18 out on the balcony and 40 on the terrace, which has a stunning view of the Qutub Minar.
The good stuff
To be honest, I wasn’t aware that India was once home to a large Armenian community or that their influence can still be seen in our food. My favourite surprise of the night was the Prawn Tolma (Rs.450), a baked prawn tucked into the heart of a slow-braised blossoming onion. The slightly caramelized sweet onion and coconut-flavoured prawn contrasted sharply with the kasundi (mustard sauce) smear on the plate. Absolutely exquisite.
The Egg Devil (Rs.250) was more Scotch egg and less devilled, but a treat nonetheless: A soft-boiled egg wrapped in a mince lightly spiced with cumin and garam masala.
The Pumpkin Manti (Rs.400), a dumpling, was stuffed with a mildly sweet pumpkin-cinnamon filling and baked with yogurt and ripe Kalimpong cheese. The dumpling was light, the sweet-and-salty flavours came together in a sophisticated balance. Also interesting was the clay cocotte it was served in.
We also had the Chicken Kalagyosh (Rs.400), an Armenian stew of chickpeas and chicken chunks. It felt familiar thanks to the black pepper (Saby’s touch), but the ras el hanout spice blend and the whole heads of braised sweet garlic were unmistakably Mediterranean. The Matnakash Claypot Bread (Rs.150), a soft rustic bread, is perfect for soaking up the stew.
The Dark Chocolate Mousse (Rs.300) came in a little mud pot too. The mud absorbs the extra water in the eggless mousse, leaving behind a dense dark mousse with an intense rum flavour.
Saby sources all his produce either from Delhi’s Bengali hub, Chittaranjan Park, or from Kolkata, where the Armenians first settled in the 17th century. The Bengali-Armenian blend at Lavaash, in one word, is masterful.
The Asparagus and Labneh (Rs.350) simply comprised two tiny balls of labneh on three sad stalks of asparagus. I was anticipating something more creative and complex in taste. The Ponchiki (Rs.170), with a pastry cream filling, was reminiscent of beignets, but the dough was chewy. When we went, they only had wine on the menu, but I hear they have a full bar now.
A meal for two (three appetizers, two mains, two desserts, three glasses of wine) cost us Rs.4,704.
Lavaash by Saby, Ambawatta One Complex, Mehrauli, New Delhi. Timings, noon-midnight. For reservations, call 011-26646548.