Vegetarian food and I, lets just say, we are not the best of friends. I recognize its value and worth but I find it extremely tough to have an entire meal that is purely vegetarian and enjoy it. But wonder of wonders, I savored an Uttam Bhoj at ITC Sonar early this week and I loved it! The Bhoj was courtesy Chef Gunjan Goela, a consultant with the ITC Hotels for Indian vegetarian specialty cuisine. Her forte is vegetarian cuisine of Old Delhi, developed after thorough research into the capital’s culinary history.
Till 7th June, ITC Sonar brings you Chef Gunjan Goela with her rendition of Uttam Bhoj, offering a wide range of vegetarian delicacies with a different flavour. It is an excellent combination of Rajasic food (that which excites the senses) and Sattvic food (which heals the senses), which after a meal gives one a complete feeling of satisfaction and gratification.
I was invited by ITC Sonar to interact with Chef Goela and sample her delicacies. The meal started off with a refreshing glass of Tamatori Mattha (buttermilk) with yoghurt, roasted cumin, fennel, chillis, coriander and tomato. I would have never been able to guess the presence of tomatos unless Chef pointed it out. That day, the temperature was nearly 41 degrees so that glass of Mattha was much appreciated!
From the cooling drink, we moved on to the appetizers starting from Ghugni, to Sweet Potato Chaat, Dahi Bhalla and my favorite Gol Gappa. Out of all these, I loved the Sweet Potato Chaat the most with its sweet and sour chutney and spice mix. It reminded me of our churmur minus the crushed phuchkas. The Gol Gappa shell was very interesting. Chef made it with whole wheat flour which gave it a completely different taste. More crunchy and slightly hard compared to our normal gol gappas. I usually skip the water and prefer them plain with the potato mixture when I have my phuchkas in Kolkata. That day, I had the gol gappas with a tangy mango chutney and the combination was pure bliss!
The main courses followed and there were plenty. I loved the ripe tangy mango curry with Namak ke Parathe, the slightly bland but wholesome Bajra Khichdi, the unique Beetroot Puris, the melt-in-your mouth Palak Mangori ki Kadhi and the Kishmishi Kesari Pulao. My favorite though would have to be the simple Aloo ki Sabzi paired with Bedmi Puri, a Delhi specialty. The potato curry was made to perfection with the right spices and the mixture of tomato and aamchur. Aah what I would do to have a bowl of that with luchis right now!
I was stuffed at that point but wriggled my belly to make some space for desserts. Placed in front of us was a big platter with a bowl of seviyan kheer, a delicious rabri with falooda and sabza seeds and a chandrakala, similar to gujiya. I polished off everything, sat on the chair for a good 10 mins before getting up and proceeded to go to work with a very sad face. That meal deserved a nice couple of hours of afternoon siesta but then…. 🙁
The Uttam Bhoj menu is part of the dinner buffet at Eden Pavilion, ITC Sonar till 7th June. The dinner buffet is priced at 2250/– plus tax per person.