CHENNAI: Learning the Mediterranean food vocabulary is a little unnerving at first. After all, let’s face it, besides the ever popular hummus and baba ganoush (both of which are still alien terms to many), not even the seasoned traveller can rattle off names like tabouleh and samboussak with ease.
Fortunately, the latter sounds fairly similar to what we call it here in Chennai — a samosa! And this deep fried treat has a triangle of cheesy goodness inside, personally much preferred to masala-tossed potato. Anyway, so back to this crash course of Mediterranean menu vocabulary.
Here’s one dish (well actually it’s a bread) that sounds quite lovely and is easy on the tongue, pronunciation-wise, it’s called Lavash. And if you’re wondering why it sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the name of Khader Nawaz Khan Road’s newest fine dining restaurant.
Just a little over a month old, the space with it’s fresh accents of blue decor (including the glitzy chandeliers) is just as inviting as their hot and cold mezze platter. Mezze, as you’ve probably already guessed, is the Turkish word for ‘appetiser’. And chef Muneer Mangalan gives us an extensive selection of both hot and cold choices — from harissa marinated chicken winglets served with kibbeh (lamb mince, burgul wheat, pine nuts and spices) to wine leaves stuffed with rice, parsely and herbs that go nicely with a lightly pungent muhammara (red bell pepper, walnut dip).
Also, a must mention is the delicious roast tomato soup that arrives in a kaapi-style glass with a focaccia crust on the side. The bread, unlike most served plain with hot soup, is topped with a finely diced mix of olives, garlic and anchovies. Super yum!
For the main course, the chef’s selection is a lot more predictable. Sardinia pizza, basically a thin crust pizza with mushrooms, chicken and black olives and shish taouk or charcoal grilled chicken that arrives with a side of pitta bread. Although wholesome to dig into, perhaps next time we’ll opt for lesser tried choices that are Mediterranean staples...like Morocco’s famous slow-cooked tajine stew, often served in an earthern pot. For dessert, there’s a choice of Lava chocolate cake served on a bed of white chocolate sauce and a more subtlely-flavoured panna cotta with a bright pink strawberry coulis for contrast. We’re not sure how popular these are by the Mediterranean sea, but they certainly shipped us to heaven and back. Who needs wind and sails when you have a spoonful of chocolate, right?
Lavash is at Oyster, 3rd floor, 9 Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Chennai 600 006. Contact: 4214 1144.