I stepped from the harsh sun into the cool and welcoming interiors of the San-Qi the literal translation of which means three energies. Designed by Super Potato, San-Qi was to serve Japanese, Chinese and Indian cuisines to its patrons and then by popular demand they started their Thai menu too. The interiors are sleek and contemporary, accented with glass and wood. The spacious and two leveled restaurant gives you the feeling of space and the cozy corners give it the intimate feel. The upper level is dedicated to the Thai and Japanese cuisine and the lower level to the Indian and Chinese preparations. It has an impressive wine bar and the wine collection is a connoisseur’s delight. The open kitchens add to the charm of the restaurant and enhance the feeling of space.
Food festival – Kashmiri Saal
I had the pleasure of having lunch at the San-Qi as they celebrated Kashmiri saal – a festival of dishes from the valley, a celebration of Kashmiri cuisine from Nov 11th to 22nd. Trust the Four Seasons to do everything in style and to give you an authentic experience of this celebration. Chef Anshuman Bali, the Executive Chef at the Four Seasons, a Kashmiri by descent came up with this innovative idea of inviting a Kashmiri Waza (chef) from the valley to recreate the magic and cook up an array of authentic and traditional Kashmiri dishes. A Kashmiri feast has traditionally 32 dishes but they have chosen the favourites and presented an interesting menu of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes.
I was seated right across the open Indian kitchen and it was quite a treat to watch the chefs at work in their domain. Chef Anshuman seemed to have it all under control as he confidently prepared dish after dish. It was truly a labour of love as he proudly presented the dishes, explaining what they were. He explained how the spices and masalas are flown in from Kashmir to give the dishes the authentic flavor and wistfully added that he wished he could do the same for the vegetables too as procuring the lotus root and the knol khol in Mumbai was a challenge. His personal favourites would be the “tabak maaz which is the crispy shallow fried lamb ribs and the musch olav which are lamb meatballs with gram masala and potato wedges. We were served a specially curated tasting menu for lunch.
For starters he produced a well presented platter of fried cottage cheese slices with a walnut and chilly chutney. The cottage cheese was relatively crispy, coated with spices and the insides just melted the minute you put it in your mouth. “Nadur Shammi” which were lotus root gallettes with Kashmiri spices served with a cream sauce and garnished with lotus root chips. It was a delicious dish and worth a try.
The non- vegetarian platter had “Gaad Pakory” which were fish fritters with a radish and yogurt relish.
For the main course, the chef presented a meal fit for a king. Dum oluv which was the traditional Dum aloo potatoes in a spicy curry, cottage cheese in a tomato gravy, Nadur yakhyin which were lotus root stubs in a tangy yoghurt curry and Moonj haak which was a Knol khol stew. This was served with Indian breads and steamed rice. The table looked like an artist’s palette with the dishes served in different gravies, painstakingly created and beautifully presented. Each dish had its own distinct flavor with none of the dishes tasting even remotely the same. It was a treat for the senses with the visually appealing presentation, the mouth watering aroma and a delight for the taste buds as you could taste the different spices that were blended together to make the dish. After a hearty main course we were served the traditional rice pudding with saffron and nuts as dessert which was absolutely divine. Kashmir is known for its spices and saffron and its rice and the meal was testimony to that. The food, being traditional was served in ceramic dishes and bowls adding to the experience.
Definitely worth a visit to enjoy the Kashmiri cuisine which is authentically prepared by Kashmiri chefs giving it the true flavor of the land. So with delectable food and the ambience at San-Qi you just cannot go wrong.
The richness and the authenticity of the food, along with the strains of the instrumental Kashmiri music playing in the background takes you back to the valley that is undoubtedly heaven on earth.
It was a beautiful afternoon spent with scrumptious food and a desire to visit Kashmir again. A meal for two would cost approximately Rs 5,000 plus taxes.
San-Qi – Four Seasons Hotel,
114, E Moses Road, Worli, Mumbai