Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Last Supper

When we planned for this meal a few weeks ago little did we know it turned out to be our last dinner at a restaurant for a while. Our friend Suveg told us about this pop-up Bombay East Indian dinner series hosted by his wife Samaira – we immediately signed up for a table, partly because I wanted to support a aspiring new chef and partly because I am curious what “Bombay East Indian” cuisine is about. 

Heard great feedback from people who went a few nights before we did with a similar menu, so our expectation was high. And what a relief that the dinner could go on as planned given the new government ban on dining in at restaurants after 6pm (which only went in effect AFTER the night of our meal). Before the dinner started, Chef Samaira dropped by our table to introduce the menu, which drew inspirations from her family’s Indo-Portuguese root and the street food culture of Bombay-Maharashtria where she grew up. 

We began with a pair of snacks – first the crispy flat-bread (khakra) was served with two types of chutneys, both excellently made with perfect balance of sweet and spicy flavors. Then it’s the “tartlet” of beetroot puri with a creamy topping made with yogurt, chickpeas, chutneys and pomegranate seeds. I am normally not a fan of beetroot but its taste was negligible so guess it only gave the puri a nice red color. I like the combination of the creamy texture with a slight kick from the spices and herbs mixed in. 

Chef Samaira prepared for us not one but three different “main” courses in substantial portion. First one was a twist to the traditional Batata, with the mashed potato patty coated with chickpea flour, filled with pulled stewed lamb meat and pan-fried for the slightly crispy crust. On the side was kachumber – chopped pickled vegetables that look like salsa and with a brush of green pea chutney on top. Again, I won’t call lamb my favorite type of meat, but I thought this dish was brilliant, with the lamb meat juicy and loaded with spicy marinate, matching well with the soft and fluffy mash potatoes and the crispy crust. Reminded me of a good old British Shepherd’s Pie only with more exotic flavor. 

Second main course was beef. Pomfret fillet was cooked en papilotte wrapped inside banana leaves with the skin on and a generous smearing of the “green curry sauce” on top. The fish was silky and delicate, and the sauce gave it a herbaceous and very aromatic flavor. 

Last one was a poultry dish. Piece of chicken (which we were told came from France) was cooked sous vide after brining and marinating in traditional bottle masala spice mix. Then it’s topped with dried curry leaf and spices and finished on a pan. On the side were Khuddi sauce – creamy with a good touch of tararind taste and cumin-flavored rice. The chicken was well-cooked, full of flavor, juicy and with the nice crust, and it worked well with the slightly sweet and smoky sauce too. It looked and tasted similar to Portuguese piri-piri chicken but with the local Indian spices. 

To end, we were served a dessert with mango done three ways using the seasonal Alfonso mango, and Chef Samaira explained this is her version of the traditional Aamrakhand, a common summer sweets in her region. Unlike other mango desserts which were usually light and sweet, this one was richer and heavy and more complex, with added yogurt and touch of nuts and spices introducing a different spectrum of flavor. 

With the dinner co-hosted by a group called Wine Friends, our meal came with a few glasses to pair with the dishes, all old world in recent vintages. Among them I like the Alsace Pinot Gris that went with the fish, with the slightly off-dry taste and exotic fruits working well with the green curry sauce. The Sauternes at the end was nice too – plenty of honeysuckle and light botrytis taste with good acidity which went well with the creamy mango. We finished with a small cup of masala chai which was always comforting. 

And the dinner will also be remembered by us going through the soundtrack of Les Miserables the musical not once but twice in the background... 

When? July 14 2020
Where? Les Saveurs Private Kitchen, 21/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Batata: East Indian Lamb Potato Chop, Green Pea Chutney, Kachumber
Frederic Lornet Cremant du Jura Rose Brut NV
2016 Pares Balta Ginestra Gewurz, Penedes, Spain
2000 Jomeyer Pinot Gris Granc Cru Hengst L'Exception, Alsace, France
2016 Valle Dell'Acate Il Frappato DOC, Sicily, Italy
2016 Chateau de Bastard Sauternes AOC

No comments :