On a Delectable Trip at Orza
|Orza at Ansal Plaza|
There is a saying in my house that goes like this. “You don’t have to flavour mutton. Because, it has an intrinsic taste of its own.” So, in my Bengali kitchen, we cook mutton in the most simple and straightforward way. With the essential onions, garlic, ginger, yoghurt, turmeric and chillies. And we top it off with a sprinkle of home-crushed garam masala.
Hence, when I eat different variants of mutton or lamb at eateries, I try to figure out how different each dish is and how uniquely they have tempered the meat. At Orza this Monday, I ate a Kandhari mutton that was tangy yet subtle, the redness of the gravy more from the tomato slush than dried red chillies. The Awadhi dish might have been a tad too sour for my liking, but I must mention that it was very different from what I had of the animal protein so far in life. The meat fell off the bone like molten butter and the umami aftertaste lasted long. Food is a subjective topic so maybe once the tanginess is checked a wee bit, I would rate it as one of the best lamb dishes ever.
|Paneer Kundan Kaliyan|
Serving a host of authentic Persian, Kashmiri and Awadhi delicacies, Orza has been making some noise among gourmands ever since its launch a couple of months ago. And from what we ate, the buzz is warranted. But, if the restaurant does manage to convince foodies to come all the way to the deadpan Ansal Plaza in Khel Gaon Marg, to savour their food, they really will have achieved a feat. The arcade is seriously deserted, with a few visitors sauntering in and out. A handful of good restaurants are trying to make the phoenix rise from the rubble I guess. My heart goes out to them…
Anyway, I digress. Back to Orza. Where I also ate a rich and creamy Khoresht Gharch, made with three types mushrooms stewed in a mildly spiced yoghurt gravy and served with Orza pulao. I was sold, for the want of a better word. The chewy texture of the mushroom countered the buttery broth in a delectable way. At the risk of sounding crazy, I might add that this was the stand out dish of the afternoon.
|Mutton Pot Shorpa|
That and the Mutton Pot Shorpa, a mutton clear soup that burst with flavours with every spoonful. The balls of mutton mince were soft and the veggies added body to the liquid, too. If you are in the mood to detox, do have a bowl of this soup if at Orza, which concentrates more on its food than décor. Keeping it casual and fussfree. The staff though could be tad more informed or forthcoming with the names of dishes. And maybe a triple clear with the sounds of them.
The jujeh kebab got a special kick from the charred onions and the finger chillies. They were even flavoured with sumac. I could have a couple more if the seekh kebabs hadn’t arrived. Traditionally prepared with lamb mince, I paired them with various homemade dips (herbed yoghurt, beetroot, raw mango, mint, aubergine and tomato garlic. I’m sure I’m missing out on a host of other spices used in them but then it's difficult to jot them all down with good food lying tantalisingy in front).
The beetroot and yoghurt kebab tasted like the vegetable chops we regularly eat in Kolkata. It’s one of the most common evening snacks for us there. Next time I am at Orza, I will try the Pomegranate chicken because I want to see how they pair the two.
|Watermelon Feta Salad|
|Dum Murg ka Stew|
After cleansing our palate with the watermelon and feta salad, we waited for the mains to arrive. The Kandhari mutton and the Khoresht Gharch were two of them. The Dum Murg ka Stew was served with traditional sheermal. Cooked in its own juices, the meat was soft and tasty with Lucknawi spices thrown in. The fresh grilled greens added a crunch. The sheermal had roasted almonds on the crust so that was a nice, new flavour. Maybe, next time (if I at all visit the vacant Ansal Plaza) I’ll try Ab-Gosht, the Kashmiri Machli (the tasting should have incorporated at least one fish dish) and Dal Adsi. Humble Kashmiri dishes that often test the true mettle of a chef.
For desserts, we ordered the traditional baklava. But unlike the ones prevalent in Turkey, where the centre is moist, these flaky hand-rolled pastries were dry. Filled with plenty of nuts and chopped dates (and which contributed to the sweetness predominantly), I missed the buttery aftertaste baklavas are famous for. But the next sweet meat made up for it. The home made saffron and pistachio ice-cream. It was rich, creamy and just perfectly sweet. What the baklava could not, the ice-cream achieved in the first scoop itself…
|Desserts for the day|