Get a taste of Armenia in Delhi with mushroom manti and ponchiki, with chef Saby’s home delivery menu
A subject that never fails to intrigue me is the way food crosses borders. Take Armenian food. Who would have thought that one day you’d get to eat dishes that are a part of life in the Eurasian country? But let’s not forget that India has old links with Armenia, ever since the first traders came from there in the late 17th century. There are people of Armenian origin living mostly in Kolkata.
That should explain why an intrepid chef opened a restaurant serving Armenian delicacies in south Delhi a few years ago. I wanted to try out the food, but never managed to do so. But now, I am happy to say, Sabyasachi Gorai — known widely as Chef Saby — has started a food delivery service, and on the menu are a couple of Armenian dishes.
The outfit is called Saby’s Deli – Soulful Decadence. I received a menu the other day and found it interesting. For those who like their fish and meat, there is Icelandic salmon steak (₹950 for 200g fish and 350g of mash and vegetables plus taxes), slow roasted American chicken leg and thigh (₹800 for 400g with bone), and Nordic lamb neck (₹600 for 300g of meat with bone). For vegetarians, the menu includes aglio e olio pepperoncino (₹450 for 500g), sautéed beans and spinach (₹200 for 250g); spaghetti Alfredo (₹450), roast vegetables (₹200 for 250g).
The produce, the Deli says, are sourced from the USA and Scandinavian countries, and then vacuum-packed and transported frozen through a cold chain. The dishes are then paired with local vegetables and oven cooked with just a little oil, it says.
I can vouch for this — the food is light, yet delicious. I wanted a taste of Armenian food, so asked for the mushroom manti — Armenian ravioli stuffed with mushroom and cheese, in a tomato sauce (₹500 for 300g). It was superb, nicely creamy and spiced. The pasta — tossed in olive oil, black and green olives, capers and chilli flakes — was smooth and al dente (which is how I like it). I enjoyed the roasted pumpkin and carrot, too — plump pieces that had been roasted with a dash of sea salt, olive oil, fresh herbs, and whole red chillies.
The lamb dish consisted of small pieces of meat on bone that had been braised for three hours with vindaloo spices. I liked the gravy; the meat had been cooked just right too. The slow roasted chicken leg and thigh (the chicken was American, and thus rather large!) was surprisingly tasty. It came with roasted vegetables, a garlic mash, and a delightful gravy flavoured with rosemary.
The chicken had been marinated overnight with ginger and garlic and then slow cooked with a splash of garlic oil on a bed of vegetables, Chef Saby tells me. A smoked chilli rub was applied on the chicken, and then it was again slow cooked for a bit.
I loved the dessert. Called ponchiki, this is an Armenian version of a doughnut with a filling. The patisserie includes cookies and cream (₹150 for 200g), a rich dry fruit cake with home-made liquor (₹250 for 200g), three milk cake (with condensed milk, cooking cream, and Niagara whipping cream with sugared nuts — ₹400 for 350g), and lemon and maraschino cherry cupcakes (₹350 for a dozen). Selling dishes by weight is now a trend in food delivery, it seems.
Food is delivered (with varying charges) across Delhi-NCR. Place your order (9910731957/ 9717714687) by 6 pm, for the next day.
Chef Saby’s food has re-ignited my love for travel. I am thinking of Yerevan. But first, I must get to know the food!
The writer is a seasoned food critic