The Farzi Twist - a new menu at Farzi Cafe
When Farzi Café opened its doors to the good folks of Bangalore, they brought a whole bunch of classic dishes from their restaurants across other cities and the feedback on the dishes has been very positive. To be honest, I was a bit perplexed when they announced the launch of a new menu not even a year into opening. Then again, one can always expect something quirky and memorable from the team at Farzi.
I was invited a few weeks ago to try out the new menu and give my feedback. While there isn’t a complete overhaul of the existing menu, the team at Farzi have brought in a lot more local flavours and added it to their existing menus, giving patrons something completely different from what was being served at their other restaurants. The first dish to accompany my Chai Paani cocktail (a favourite of mine) was the Dhokla and Farsaan Salad – a delightful dish of the classic dhokla done three ways, accompanied by crispy wafers and chutneys. This was followed by the Daal Moth Chaat. I always frown upon fine establishments serving chaat; however besides the typical Farzi-quirky presentation the dish itself was perfect for summer. Cold, perfect balance of sweet and spice with pomegranate and green apples, my friend and I were thorough in ensuring nothing was left behind.
The starters continued with both a vegetarian and chicken variant of the classic patty samosa, served with a dip inspired by sulaimani tea. While the combination picks up on the classic tea and sulaimani chai variant, popular in Bengaluru, the purist in me couldn’t appreciate the twist. If I had to point out why, it would be that the dip wasn’t quite sulaimani in flavour. That being said, I enjoyed the vegetarian variant a lot more than I did the chicken. This was followed by a plate (can’t use the word plate because it was more of a hollowed out rolling pin) of succulent Guntur Chilli Chicken. This dish has complete potential of becoming a Farzi classic. The perfect pairing with a cold lager, this spicy, tender, chicken with some of my favourite south Indian spices was just what the doctor ordered. Kudos to the team on getting this perfect.
The chicken was followed by the Sion Prawn Koliwada, a batter fried prawn dish, served with prawn wafers. The had a tiny flaw in the amount of batter being just a tad too thick, but that doesn’t stop one from enjoying the perfectly cooked crispy prawn on the inside. Do note, stay away from those prawn wafers; addictive little scoundrels they are. This could be paired with a glass of perfectly brewed Hefeweizen. (Just saying!)
The two dishes that followed were my least favourite and only downers in an otherwise wonderful afternoon of lip smacking food. The Kothimbir Vadi Papaya Salad Tikka needed a lot more work with my biggest grouse being the texture which reminded me of a ready-to-fry cutlet from the cold storage that hasn’t quite thawed completely. The other dish was the soya chop, which needed a lot more balance in terms of the flavour because all I was getting was spice.
The dish that followed was the Iyengar Bakery Style Toasties. I’ve not quite made up my mind on whether I like this dish or not. The dish takes chicken sukka, a classic for any non-vegetarian living in the south, and puts it into the classic Iyengar Bakery Style masala sandwich, a favourite and a luxury from my childhood. While there’s nothing wrong with either the taste or the texture of the dish, delightfully spicy with the bread being perfectly crispy, I’m unfortunately not sold on the overall idea.
The main course started with the Charred Artichokes, Cherry Tomato Bisi Bele Bhaath. For those of you who read Bise Bele Bhaath (BBB) and rolled your eyes, I did exactly the same thing when the dish was served. What I wasn’t expecting was that behind this relatively ordinary un-Farzi like dish was world of flavour. Focusing the twist on the flavours, this version of the classic BBB was made out of Arborio rice and had sinful amounts of cheese which when combined with the vegetables and spices of any classic BBB, made this one of the most memorable dishes of the afternoon. I do know the verdict is divided on this dish, but I would gladly go back and order this.
The second and final dish of the main course was the Shwarma Biryani. Presented quite differently from your typical biryani, the dish kept the rice and the meat apart. Together, they offered a wonderfully balanced dish with succulent meat and a lovely fragrance to match. Balancing out the texture was the popadam that was served on the side. But the Farzi-twisted BBB was the clear winner by miles in my book.
While my friend and I kicked back with our stomachs full and our faces glowing with pride (mostly sweat from over eating), we indulged ourselves in a couple of glasses of the Litchi Panna Desire – a perfect summer drink of litchi and aam panna. Once sufficiently rested, we went in for the final kill to conquer desserts.
Two desserts were served, the first was the Tandoori Ras Mailai which was a Smoked Fresh Cheena, Flavoured Shrikand - a dessert that soaked the classic ras malai in condensed milk and cream, topped with a bit of saffron. Topped with shrikand and almond nougat, the dessert was relatively simple, yet satisfying. However, my pick for the dessert goes to the next dessert (whose name again escapes me) that heroes ingredients that are ideal for any summer. With nuts, berries, strawberries, cream and so many more wonderful elements, this dessert warranted a dropping of the spoon towards the end and keeping it uncouth by using ones fingers to scoop our every bit from the glass it was served in. At the end of the meal, I was grinning like there was no tomorrow, staying true to #happypanda.
Kudos to Mr.Zorawar Kalra and Chef Sombir Choudhary for crafting a wonderful menu that stays true to the quirkiness one expects at Farzi Café while staying true to a lot of flavours of the southern region. Do check out the new fare and let me know what your favourite was.