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THROUGHOUT their checkered history, bloodied by the atrocities committed on them, Armenians have found refuge in India. Today, about 150 Armenians are living in Kolkata and the Armenian College there draws students from this Orthodox Christian community across the world. Not much was known, though, about the community that settled in Asansol, West Bengal, to develop the vibrant district town’s iron and steel industry, till Sabyasachi Gorai, a talented young chef previously with AD Singh, opened Lavaash by Saby at the picture-postcard-pretty restored heritage building Ambavatta One in Mehrauli. The Armenians gave the world lavash, the soft and thin unleavened flatbread; they created the tonir, an underground clay oven that metamorphosed into the tandoor; and their cabbage or grapevine-wrapped tolma, dumplings (manti) served with sour cream, and khoravat (grilled meats) now have a worldwide following. The flamboyant chef has dipped into this culinary tradition at Lavaash by Saby, his 150-seater restaurant set to open in phases. It has several positives working in its favour, not the least of which are the banana flower (mocha) puffs, onion tolma bulging with mustard-spiked prawns, the pizza-like pide (another Armenian speciality) topped up with molten cheese and runny egg, and manti served out of an earthenware steamer designed especially for the dumplings. Lavaash by Saby has potential.
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