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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.
Our love for well-designed stylish dining spaces have often taken us to ends of the country impressing us with the need to explore what India has to offer and break away from the conventional dining. Gastronomy in New Delhi has gone under a huge transformation and the patrons now willingly welcome the more refined and fashionable versions of conventional fine dining. ‘Lavaash By Saby’ is the brainchild of Chef Sabyasachi Gorai who was previously with famed AD Singh and found the inspiration of the restaurant in the coal sooted lanes of Asansol, West Bengal. It’s a little unknown fact that many Armenian families after fleeing home found refuge in various parts of the country and some of them settled in Asansol. Sabyasachi Gorai or as lovingly known as Saby dipped into the culture and bought its vibrancy and authenticity to the old roads of Mehrauli, New Delhi.
Lavaash By Saby is a good-looking stylish fine dining restaurant run by a passionate chef who is influenced by the joys of Bengal and Armenia and captures the same through his fantastic menu. With your drinks enjoy some starters like, chicken skewers, crispy lentil sticks, spiced soy keema koobideh, classical meat dolma, char grilled mutton ribs, the valley view cutlet, eggplant tolma, Jurassic cheese lavaash pizza and roasted cauliflower & pumpkin kebob. Main course entails, dill marinated pork chop, prawn claypot casserole, mushroom manti, lavaash fish, tenderloin steak and spiced pide pie. Tickle your sweet buds with the old monk mousse, Armenian coffee cream pot, ponchiki, chefs gata and milk chocolate walnut & cherry cheesecake.
Saby found a picture perfect heritage villa in Ambavatta One and converted it into a tranquil paradise of flavours and style. He then chose to throw away the edgy modernity of today’s trendy dining spaces and paved his own way with handlooms of West Bengal. The fetching beauty of hand-embroidered kanthawork upholstery that covers the chairs to the delightful motifs of peacock, parrots and pomegranates that seems to be everywhere, lends the space an enchanting appeal. A chrome yellow painted room flooded with sunshine and a vast sunlit courtyard shaded by a neem tree beckons one to relax and soak in the leisurely ambience. Lavaash may not be cheap but it takes you on a rollercoaster of flavours that stay with you for weeks to come.