Food: Desi vegetarian fare goes chic in Lower Parel
From next week, dig into dhokla oxide and raspberry lipsticks at a Lower Parel restaurant that whips up vegetarian fare with a twist
We stepped into Panayaa with trepidation. The sister concern of Ithaka, Riso and Firki, slated to open on December 1 at Lower Parel, is touted as a progressive Indian restaurant, serving only vegetarian fare. So, we braced ourselves for a limited variety and an overdose of paneer and potato. However, a dig into our first starter, Shakarkhandi Ki Chaat (Rs 350) and we realised we were in safe hands. Cooked using the French sous-vide method (where food is sealed in an air-tight plastic bag and boiled), the sweet potatoes, coated with tangy mint chutney, were appetising.
We settled into the roomy, brightly-lit 120-seater that presented a royal vibe with pristine white walls, ornate mirrors and an al fresco section too. Though work-in-progress, the menu packs in close to 15 appetisers, 10 mains, salads, desserts as well as molecular mocktails.
Shakarkhandi Ki Chaat
Next, we tried Potato Spears Chaat with Peas Ragada (Rs 395). With balls of crispy, fried potato threads, delicately placed on a mound of spicy ragda, we preferred this avatar of ragda pattice. Fused well with Thai flavours, Tofu Coriander Vadai with Kaffir Lime Powder (Rs 350) was a crunchy delight. We liked the idea of Deconstructed Dahi Bhalla (Rs 325), served as spheres, topped with a dollop of plain yoghurt. However, without the quintessential imli chutney, the spheres tasted bland. Dhokla Oxide (Rs 375) won us over with its sheer presentation, in sync with the restaurant’s name (Sanskrit: show ostentatiously). A nitro blast of dhokla foam was poured onto a chaat basket and a smorgasbord of sweet, tangy and spicy flavours greeted us.
Shopping Lady On The Platter. Pics/Shadab Khan
From the main course, we liked Paneer Panayaa (Rs 475) and Amritsari Kofte (Rs 475). With soft chunks of paneer and a lightly-spiced yellow gravy, Paneer Panayaa tasted best with Masala Onion Kulcha (Rs 195), that were as soft even after going cold. Packed with flavours, the vegetable koftas, cooked in a rich tomato gravy, could easily suffice for four. Another favourite was the Dal Makhani (Rs 375). Unlike its regular versions, the lentil-laden curry was creamier and comforting with the well-cooked Jeera Basil Rice (Rs 275).
Mohanthal Cheesecake with Shredded Baklava
With an edible lipstick, a necklace and a neatly constructed white chocolate bag, the Shopping Lady On The Platter (Rs 595) made for a great Instagram feed. However, it was high on raspberry cream. We’d have preferred some more chocolate, instead. Our pick was the Mohanthal cheesecake with shredded baklava (Rs 450).
Potato Spears Chaat with Peas Ragada
Cooked in desi ghee, the traditional Gujarati sweet was a hit combination with the cheesecake. The shredded baklava added a crunch. While we found some dishes overpriced, Panayaa does justice to progressive vegetarian cuisine with its très mode presentations and bagfuls of flavours.
Starts from: December 1
At: Plot No 25, Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.