When my brother mentioned that there is an Armenian – Bengali restaurant operating in New Delhi, I was intrigued. This was a cuisine combination I was not expecting, so needless to say I was quite looking forward to visiting this restaurant.
Lavaash is situated in the historic and stylish Mehrauli Qutb complex. It is more of an arty cafe than a restaurant, with outdoor seating for when the temperatures are pleasant and cool.
Inspired by the architectural heritage of the surrounding area, the decor is contemporary, earthy and vibrant, with colourful, patterned upholstery and traditional motifs.
The menu is split between Bengali cuisine (a nod to the owner’s Bengali roots) and Armenian dishes (an homage to early Armenian settlers in Bengal, who brought their food and culture with them). I must admit, before visiting this restaurant I wasn’t aware of this historical connection, so in a way my foodie adventures have taught me a piece of India’s forgotten history.
We started with some traditional meat tolma (minced meat wrapped in grape vine leaves) – the tangy parcels further uplifted by the cooling, light-as-a-feather dip that came sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and mint. It is only now that I realise that the Bengali ‘dolmas’ that I have often seen cooked at home may have had its foundation in its Armenian counterpart.
I had to order my favourite Bengali childhood snack – the Egg Devil. The Egg Devil (not to be confused with Devilled Eggs) are soft boiled eggs wrapped inside minced and crumbed meat. In terms of concept, it is probably closer to Scotch eggs. I thought this dish was a great starter: perfectly proportioned, crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey in the centre.
For our mains, we ordered the Lavaash Fish – Betki (a lovely, saltwater fish) cooked in coconut, mustard, chillies, coriander – wrapped in their signature lavash bread (you can find out more about this type of bread here). This was a uniquely aromatic dish, with a freshly-steamed fish with its mild flavour encased beautifully in the flavours of the herbs and spices.
The next dish to try was the Georgian Chicken in Spicy Walnut Sauce – boneless chicken in spicy tomato and nut sauce with toasted walnuts. It had a swelteringly fiery look, but contrary to its appearance, it was quite mild, slightly sweet and flavourful. Although not a massive fan of gravy-soaked dishes, I found myself reaching back for more. The accompanying lavash bread was perfect for dipping into the sauce and mopping the plate clean after!
My kebab (grilled meats) fixation was satiated by the Lamb Koobideh – moist and soft minced meat, charcoal grilled and served on lavash bread. While I have tried many similar versions of a kebab before, what I found most endearing is that food is the one unifying thing that transcends borders and cultures. Wherever we go, we will always find versions of the same thing, but soaked in local traditions and passed on from one generation to another.
Food here is good-looking and beautiful tasting. The menu is well-researched with a slightly imaginative approach and the service is honest and unassuming.
Lavaash is an adventurous labour of love by its owner Saby. But in many ways, it is also a heartwarming reminder that as people of this world, we have more things in common between us than we think we do. The food we eat is a big part of that shared legacy and heritage.
More information can be found here.
N.B. All photographs used and opinions expressed in the blog post are my own. I review anonymously and pay for my meals.