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Who knew a couple of decades back, that Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food would get popularity in India to even enter the mainstream gastronomy? Nowadays, even if you did not have a dedicated menu from that region, a Mezze Platter is one of the most common finds in contemporary restaurants. It has been more than a decade that Souk, Taj Bengal, Kolkata opened and they are still the most favoured and the only, Mediterranean and middle eastern fare restaurant.
The man behind the menu of Souk is Chef Simon Shakour and he is in town until the 9th of September with a special menu to entice his patrons. He is much loved by the city and there are guests who look forward to his visit. The best part of this cuisine is the vast varieties of Vegetarian food. For every Non-vegetarian dish, there is an equivalent and interesting vegetarian counterpart.
Hummus is one of the most talked-about foods of this region and as expected, they have two varieties of hummus.
Hummus with Basil
Hummus with basil and Hummus Bil Toum. While the latter is the virgin variety with the original taste, it is the latter which has a fresh twist on the original. But the vegetarian fare is much more than just a Mezze Platter. Mushroom Fatayer, a standout dish, has mushrooms, onions and cheese cooked with zatar spice (a special Arabic spice mix) and stuffed into a uniquely shaped (similar to a samosa) pastry dough. It is lovely to look at and even better to eat.
Sheesh Barak Khudra is perhaps a showstopper vegetarian dish and is meant for all discerning palates. It is even a treat for meat lovers, even though these are vegetable dumplings in a mild and tangy yogurt sauce. Salad lovers are in for a treat.
Jarjeer Ma Tamar Salate
Jarjeer Ma Tamar Salate has rocket leaves, dates, tomato, onion, pepper with a sumac and orange dressing. Now, that is what a medley of flavours in the mouth would taste like. Batata Mahshie, which is a potato stuffed with rice and cooked in tomato pepper sauce, is another house favourite. And, Crispy Halloumi with Shredded Lettuce and Mint Salad is comforting at its best.
The Vegetarian selection has soups, grills, shawarma and wraps, main course and tagines in many new dishes that Souk had not seen before.
Coming to the non-vegetarian selections, Dijaj Mosakhan is a delight with creamy shredded chicken dusted with sumac and pine nuts. The sauce has an abundance of caramelised onions that taste wonderful altogether.
Dijaj Harra Kebab
Dijaj Harra Kebab has soft tender pieces of boneless chicken legs that are chargrilled with harissa sauce. Chicken Shawarma Harra, Moroccan Dijaj Tagine, Tharid Al Dijaj and Samak Harra are some of the non-vegetarian delicacies.
Lubia Bil Lahm
However, it is the Lubia Bil Lahm, which will make you swoon. You can literally drag your fork through the lamb and the stew has a velvety texture. This sweet and tangy stew is served with Vermicelli Rice with a heady aroma from Arabic ghee. With each comforting bite, you will be salivating for more.
There are three desserts in this curated menu. Basbousa is a semolina and coconut cake served with ice cream. The famous Egyptian dessert Muhalabia and Almond and Date Sambhusek are part of the dessert menu.
Chef Simon will be there for this festival until the 9th of September. A meal for two would approximately cost INR 3000 plus GST.
For someone who's run two restaurants, being a baker and cook par excellence comes easily to Madhushree . When she's not eating out, she's organizing her own pop ups or experimenting with regional recipes. Her experiments with food and her recipes are part of Pikturenama , where she's a co founder.