How many cafes and restaurants have you been to recently that serve a buckwheat-this and an amaranth-that? Must be many, I imagine. And, of course, there's no harm in dabbling in something new and trendy, but more often than not, these are done at a very superficial level to get aboard the health-food bandwagon. And that's where AnnaMaya, Andaz Delhi's signature restaurant at Aerocity, comes in and stands out sensationally. There's nothing half-measure about what they are doing. It is, in fact, a deep-dive into what healthy, conscious, collaborative eating should be like. And when it's done at this scale, with such attention to detail, it hits the spot.
So, what is AnnaMaya doing exactly? It's giving you finger-licking delicious Indian and European food with a modern approach in a large space that is done up in a food hall-style. The ingredients are sourced locally from smaller boutique brands that produce quality produce. A large part of the fresh veggies and fruits at AnnaMaya are supplied by Tijara Organic Farms, a certified organic farm run by Sneh Yadav in the midst of the Aravalli Hills in Rajasthan. Everything on the menu is seasonal, and that's why the on-table menu is a single sheet of mains and appetisers that change as per the availability of ingredients. Several live counters ensure that there are many items to choose from, so don't worry, you will be spoilt for choice. But, there's something incredibly refreshing to not be handed a multi-page, heavy menu in a leather-casing!
The Lazy Sunday Lunch at AnnaMaya, Andaz Delhi
AnnaMaya's Lazy Sunday lunch is the kind of booster you need at the end of a tiring week, to kick-start the new week on a happy note. It's the kind of food that indulges your taste-buds without making you feel heavy or lethargic. In fact, everything at AnnaMaya is the opposite of lethargic, their servers and managers included. Their energy and casual eagerness to serve is lovely, hats off to the F&B team who have managed to create such a bright and efficient team.
Since the decor and ambience is intricately woven with the ethos of AnnaMaya, spending a few relaxed hours here on a Sunday becomes even easier. Use of natural materials like wood and stone, and a generous throw of stained glass add to the sophisticated vibrancy of the place. There are rustic corners serving fresh juices, little tables with local cheese and cold cuts, live counters serving aloo-poori and dosas, trays full of baked goodies, and a very impressive station serving traditional cereals like amaranth, black puffed rice and ragi flakes.
The appetisers and main course dishes are served hot on your table. Here are my top 3 main-course picks:
1. Chettinadu Spiced Slow Cooked Pork Belly
The top spot has to go to pork belly cooked in a Chettinad style. The curry was light and flavourful and the pork belly was perfectly cooked. It comes with coconut rice that's delicate and aromatic. This one is a winner all the way.
2. Hyderabadi Khatti Dal
While the biryanis and salans are the flagbearers of Hyderabadi cuisine, the khatti dal from this region is no less a star. It's a seemingly simple dish made using arhar (toor) or masoor dal and gets its tangy (khatta) flavour from the use of tamarind and lots of tomatoes. AnnaMaya's Khatti Dal is a must try.
3. Millet Chicken Biryani:
While there is regular biryani on the menu too, I would suggest you try their millet chicken biryani. If it's tough to get regular biryani right, getting a millet biryani to be this aromatic is a task that needs greater skills. The grains and pieces of succulent chicken taste like they belong with each other. You don't miss the rice, at all!
There's a lot more to explore, including more curries, salads, grilled meats and desserts on the live counters. There are several types of lassis - the mint-based and coconut-flavoured options are fresh and set the bar high right in the beginning. Lots of 'breakfasty' things to try out too - waffles, crepes, pancakes, eggs to order, pies, crumbles and handmade ice-creams.
Lazy Sunday breakfasts that extend over indulgent lunches have a special place in the hearts of all those who love good food. If you too are one of them, then this one is going to bowl you over. An informal, relaxed setting where you can take your time savouring what fresh, seasonal produce tastes like. Don't lazy Sundays sound even better now?