In Mehrauli’s Ambawatta Complex, Lavaash is settled under a sprawling Neem tree and awash in details (you know we love our details) that include hand-embroidered kantha chairs and dancing parrot and peacock tiles. Take your time and read the menu because it is home to all sorts of stories from Saby’s childhood. The food on those menus largely build on Armenian techniques or concepts, but are recreated using local ingredients so you’ll find, for instance, creamy coconut milk paired with sharp kasundi mustard. On the drinks menu we found the Blast Furnace, a vodka cocktail that is reminiscent of tangy rasam; we loved it so much that we asked for the recipe (you’re welcome). In Saby’s own words, this fiery drink recalls the memory of an orange-red night sky owing to the 24/7 whirring blast furnace in the iron factory of Asansol, his hometown. The onion-prawn tolma was delicious, with buttery onion wrapped around perfectly cooked prawns and a delicious mustardy dressing to mop up with every bite. Try, also, the pumpkin manti, divine, plump ravioli in a fragrant sauce. Desserts are designed to share, although we were inclined to keep that paan ice cream and ponchiki (an Armenian doughnut) just for one. Chef Saby answered three rapid-fire questions for us before sharing two recipes from their menu, both a little simplified so that you’re actually able to attempt them in your own kitchen.
One little known eating place in Kolkata:
Your top three eating joints anywhere in the world:
Nobu for Japanese food, Tetsyua in Sydney, Rockpool in Sydney
Top tip for budding chefs:
Rather than focussing on molecular gastronomy and fancy techniques, first solidify the basics. Put your head down and work.
Find those two recipes here.