Ziya, the Indian restaurant at the Oberoi Mumbai celebrated the return of their gastronomic genius, Chef Vineet Bhatia who spearheaded a week long haute dining experience. We had the privilege of being served a sampling menu at the Ziya of the dishes that Chef Vineet had created. Speaking to Chef Bhatia clearly showed his passion for cooking and creating innovative dishes all the time.
Constantly experimenting and mixing ingredients like never before is what Vineet is best known for.
Having done his training in the kitchen’s of Oberoi, Chef Vineet left for London where he opened a restaurant and was given the coveted Michelin star. He then turned his sights on Geneva where his restaurant was awarded a Michelin star again.
Ziya has been his baby and though he has lived abroad for over a decade he is in Mumbai every three months to look into the restaurant. Mumbai he says is home to him.
Every minute detail, from the menu, to the new dishes, to the festivals, right down to the cutlery is chosen by from to ensure that the guests have that perfect dining experience. He is constantly training the staff and coming up with new ideas when he is at Ziya.
In his desire to do something different, to come up with something rather unusual, this time it was a five course chocolate menu, where cocoa made its way into all the courses from appetizers, to main course and even to the soup. Trust Chef Vineet with his wild imagination and ability to create new combinations and come up with a menu like this one. Those who managed to dine at the Ziya that week were the lucky ones who had the honour of having a meal created by the master himself.
We were quite apprehensive about the chocolate menu and wondered how lamb and chicken would taste with chocolate. He confidently asked us to try the dishes and then form our opinion.
We were led to a table by the huge French windows that gave us a beautiful view of the sea. At the far end we could see the chefs at work, creating their magic through the glass enclosed kitchen. After taking our order for the drinks we were served a tasting menu which was a combination of the chocolate menu and their signature dishes.
Our meal started by being served three flavours of crispy lentils (commonly known as papad) with three different dips. A pink beetroot dip, a creamish herb dip and a green chilli garlic dip all three of which were delicious.
We were then served an appetizer of cocoa potato truffles with saffron raita. Not quite sure what to expect we hesitatingly took a small bite only to have different flavours catch us unawares. A bit of spice, a bit of salt, the cocoa adding a dash of its own and the saffron with its distinctive flavor together made a delicious mouthful. Eating it slowly and trying to figure out the different flavours made it an interesting start to our meal.
This was followed by the white chocolate beetroot soup served with beet panyaram ( a shallow fried idli).
Each dish served was patiently explained to us by the attentive staff and our questions answered with a smile.
The non vegetarian starter was Malai Chicken which had three small pieces chicken tikka each marinated and flavoured differently. One was marinated in mustard, one garnished in beet and pepper mayonnaise and one in Punjabi chicken masala.
The vegetarian starter was just as interesting to look at as it was to eat. It was a green pea tikki coated in almond flakes on a bed of chickpeas topped with sweetened yogurt and tamarind chutney. It was served along with dahi bhalla ice-cream which was quite delicious.
The dishes were a modern interpretation of the Indian cuisine. International ingredients paired with the taste of traditional India brought about interesting and innovative dishes from their kitchen.
The vegetarian main course had a sampling of the Macademia crushed herb cauliflower steak with tomato peas urad kasundi and with moilee chocolate and chocolate mint coins. One would think it is a strange mix of ingredients but the end result is really worth having. The Sabzi Potli is a filo pastry filled with pickled vegetables ona bed of rajma rice and Punjabi kadhi sauce served with a bowl of kali dal. The non vegetarian main course was lobster served with its shell and accompanied with bhuna ghost which was sautéed lamb with Indian spices. The lobster and lamb were superbly prepared. With all these different innovative dishes that we had, there were some things that just don’t change, the kali dal was as authentic and as mouth watering as ever.
This was truly originality and innovation at its height.
Just before dessert we were served a choc pancola to clear the taste buds. It was like a pani puri with the pani a refreshing pan flavor and the puri with filling of sweet boondi and sev. With the different flavours assaulting our taste buds we enjoyed every mouthful.
The dessert was a platter of different creations of the chef. The platter had guava ice-cream in the shape of a lego block, which was absolutely divine. An orange cointreu modak that seemed to have just the right amount of sweetness and tasted refreshingly fresh. Shahi tukda, a bread preparation drizzled with rabdi. Each of the desserts had a different flavor but each one held its own.
It was the most unusual pairings of foods and the presentation that completely bowled us over.
At the end of lunch we could barely move having stuffed ourselves with all the different dishes. Guess we overate as they were so different and interesting that we made it a point to taste and then eat each dish that was served to us.
Dining at the Ziya is an experience in itself
A wonderful meal that was superbly curated and presented. We left the Ziya feeling satiated and definitely having overcome our apprehensions about the chocolate menu.
The vegetarian and non vegetarian five course meal was priced at Rs 4,950 plus taxes.
Ziya – The Oberoi,
Nariman Point, Mumbai
Tel: +91 22 6632 5757