feature lavash

Chefs, Delhi

Reviving a Lost Culture through Food: Chef Sabyasachi Gorai

13 Apr , 2016  

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai aka Chef Saby is a much-loved, award-winning culinary expert with a career spanning over two decades. Apart from owning a boutique restaurant consultancy called Fabrica, Chef Saby is also the man behind the recently launched Lavaash by Saby – an Armenian- Bengali restaurant at Mehrauli, Delhi that is named after the soft and thin unleavened Armenian flatbread.

Starting his journey as an Executive Chef at Hotel Guestline in Mumbai, he has immensely contributed towards the growth of several restaurants including Olive Qutub, Olive Beach, AI – The Japanese Restaurant, LAP -The Club and The Moving Kitchen by Olive.

We caught with Chef Saby to know more about Lavaash, the story behind the unique cuisine and his plans for the future.

Cosy and colourful, the interiors at Lavaash have a warm, welcoming vibe

Cosy and colourful, the interiors at Lavaash have a warm, welcoming vibe

 

One day, on an idyllic afternoon, as he was reluctantly flipping through the pages of his anthropologist father’s ‘The 100 Years of the Coal Mining History’- a book talking about India’s coal and steel belt that thrived around his hometown Asansol, Chef Saby’s eyes caught a picture of a grave and a carving on it. “Suddenly my mind started racing and took me back in time, to my childhood, the colonization of my hometown and the subsequent string of thriving Armenians bakeries and food joints that I grew up eating at.

The Armenian–Bengali fruit cake is something that I still can’t get over!” reminisces Chef Saby.

Months of research, reading through piles of old newspaper cuttings and several visits to the Armenian Church in Kolkata and the Armenian College at Park Street gave rise to the launch of Lavaash by Chef Saby. “While assimilating the Armenian story I also took into consideration the influences of other foreign settlers in Bengal – like the Portuguese and the French. My grand-mum’s solo cookery book from 1938 passed on to my mother and my mum’s handwritten recipe notes have also provided a great deal of inspiration and influence,” he adds with excitement.

The Panir and spinach kefta is one of the many dishes that Chef Saby sourced from his grandmother’s and mother’s notes

The Panir and Spinach Kefta is one of the many dishes that Chef Saby sourced from his grandmother’s and mother’s notes

 

To soak in all of that history and culture, we sit down at Lavaash and order for their Mutton Rezala (yeah, we just needed an excuse) — a fragrant and extremely popular mutton and yoghurt stew at Lavaash. Seeing us stare with guilt at the Rezala, Chef Saby tells us, “Our Mutton Rezala is very light as it doesn’t have any butter or cream. The main flavour comes from the delicate spices such as mace and star anise and from the yoghurt.” We dig in happily.

As we devour this almost guilt-free mutton masterpiece, we can’t help but ask Chef Saby if he ever faced sleepless nights with the fear of launching a lesser-known fusion cuisine restaurant in a city that finds solace in all things butter and chicken? “Yes, I was quite apprehensive about the kind of response that we would receive as it was a pretty much an unknown concept and cuisine. Especially, since the notion is that Delhi people only love North Indian food like tikkas and butter chicken! In fact, a lot of people even recommended that my first restaurant should be a safe bet like European or Mediterranean.”

And what is it that still made him go ahead with a risky choice of cuisine like this one? Chef Saby responds, “Before opening the restaurant I did do menu tastings for bloggers and chefs, and the response was truly overwhelming!”

The Armenian style ravioli is a beautiful play of flavours from the mushroom stuffing and Kalimpong cheese

The Armenian style ravioli is a beautiful play of flavours from the mushroom stuffing and Kalimpong cheese

 

Of course, the innumerable customers pouring in from day one and leaving the restaurant with a happy tummy and rave reviews about the food and the ambience, made him even more confident about his decision. With an extensive menu full of innovative, drool-inducing dishes, each promising to be better than the other — how do guests manage to go back happy and content? (Because, we wouldn’t be able to, for fear of missing out on some of their signature dishes.) Chef Saby, tells us that they also curate menus to include their best picks, so customers don’t have to worry about which dishes to pick. One such menu at Lavaash by Saby is in association with WowTables– a web and mobile-based platform that provides unique dining options in Delhi and other cities including Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune.

In fact, we hear that Chef Saby has himself hand-picked the dishes and curated the WowTables five-course experience. He elaborates, “Yes, I did curate the menu and made sure that no key ingredient is repeated on the menu. The set menus usually have all of my star dishes from the main menu, so that the guest feels that the experience is value for money.” He further shares his expertise, “The menu is the first point of guest interaction with the chef/restaurant and it’s the first thing that can make or break a guest’s experience. So yes, menu curation is extremely important to me.”

 

Another gem from Chef Saby's kitchen, this stuffed eggplant is char grilled for that wonderfully rich smoky taste

Another gem from Chef Saby’s kitchen, this stuffed eggplant is char grilled for that wonderfully rich smoky taste

A five-course experience including salads, soups, appetisers, mains and even desserts, that too hand-picked by Chef Saby himself! Sounds too good to be true, we think. But it is! Having hit all the right notes — a unique fusion cuisine, an extensive drool-inducing menu, great ambiance (the al fresco seating features a breath-taking view of the Qutub Minar) and rapidly increasing fan following, what exactly are the next steps?

“We are planning on expanding,” the chef says with a wide grin. And how exactly is he planning to maintain the quality? Chef Saby is quick to respond, “Our new employees will be given intense training on the dishes, recipe and palate. We also plan to create a record of all the ingredients, recipes and measurements so that there is no scope for change in the taste, flavour and presentation.” If only we could get our hands on that book….food would never be the same again!

The milk chocolate and cherry cheesecake with cookie crumble cherry glaze is a sight for sore eyes!

The milk chocolate and cherry cheesecake with cookie crumble cherry glaze is a sight for sore eyes!

Quick bytes:

    • Lavaash does not use any imported products in the kitchen – all  ingredients are local and indigenous.
    • West Bengal’s traditional sticky rice, Govindbhog is served here, we’re sure it will evoke childhood memories for most Bengali patrons.
    • Kalimpong (Indian version of Gouda) and Bandel in West Bengal (Indian version of Feta) and Smoked Bandel is the Indian version of smoked cheese are the only ones used here.
    • Expect indigenous ingredients like Mochar (banana flower) and Batabi (a Bengali lemon) in the puffs and salads.
    • Lavaash’s orange pound cake  is a cross between three different recipes – pound cake, financier and Tarte Tatin!


Wowtables Banner General

The following two tabs change content below.
Profile photo of Fine Dine Love
Your one-stop shop for everything gourmet.

Comments

comments

,


ăn dặm kiểu NhậtResponsive WordPress Themenhà cấp 4 nông thônthời trang trẻ emgiày cao gótshop giày nữdownload wordpress pluginsmẫu biệt thự đẹpepichouseáo sơ mi nữhouse beautiful