Culinary experts say that to check the seriousness of a Mediterranean restaurant, taste their hummus. Grainy, garlicky, little sour-y and mayonnaise-y dip may be exactly what you want to see alongside pita bread or roasted chicken steak. All great Middle Eastern restaurants, the ones that inspire you to pick up hour-long drives to reach there, tend to labour over to make this mealy paste a delight as tirelessly as an Indian chef might over his dal makhani. A great hummus should never be taken for granted!
So it was when I was at the newly-opened Mediterranean restaurant, Syrah at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi, hummus was the top element on my checklist, followed by others. Soon a line of salads, starters and some classic Mediterranean staples crowded my table in a no-frills, classy atmosphere. Think grilled shish taouk, bright and healthful tabbouleh, airy falafel balls, mouth-watering shawarma and grilled kebabs served with creamy hummus. First was the salad platter: Taubouleh, Fattoush and Wild Rocket Salad. Chock full of green herbs, tomatoes and crushed wheat, tabbouleh was a refreshing salad full of bold flavour. Fattoush had chopped vegetables with garlic, pomegranate molasses and toasted pita croutons. But my favourite was the wild rocket salad that was a perfect mix of wild rockets, red onions, fresh tomatoes, pomegranate molasses topped with lemon juice.
Next, I moved to the cold mezze platter that some of the chef-special items - Wark eneab (grape leaves stuffed with rice, tomatoes, onion and parsley cooked in olive oil), Muhamara (red capsicum with chilli, breadcrumbs, nuts, lemon juice, olive oil and pomegranate molasses), Rehab (charcoal-grilled eggplant salad), Beetroot Moutabal and hummus. The platter was served with fluffy pita breads. Suffice to say, the platter was packed with comfort and flavour. The hummus was splendid – a ring of silky, airy purée with chunkier, denser stuff and olive oil, and smears of spicy, smoky harissa and green puréed herbs.
What next was the wholesome mixed grilled platter – lamb chops, chicken cubes, lamb cubes, chicken steak, chargrilled prawns, grilled tomato with lemon juice. I concluded my meal with a delectable selection of desserts – baklava, warm date cake and vanilla ice cream with crushed pistachios. While the warm date cake was a delight to have on a chilly November night, baklava was the perfect showstopper!
Manning the kitchen is Chef Mohamed Hussein Ibrahim Kassem, who was previously in Dubai. He claims that all his dishes are authentic Mediterranean, inspired by his mother's kitchen. The restaurant also has an impressive list of classic wines to pick from.
Syrah opens to the public on 27th November 2020.
Where: Hyatt Regency Delhi, Ground Floor, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi
Price for two: INR 3,500 plus taxes for food only.
About Shubham BhatnagarYou can often find Shubham at a small authentic Chinese or Italian restaurant sampling exotic foods and sipping a glass of wine, but he will wolf down a plate of piping hot samosas with equal gusto. However, his love for homemade food trumps all.