Garlic peas in kheer, gulkand cocktails and more, Ayna at Hilton Chennai serves up plenty of surprises
Would you ever have garlic in your dessert? If your answer is no, you should probably try Chef Biswajit Bhunia’s special Benami Kheer. A preparation of garlic peas, brown sugar, and milk, this rice pudding with just the right amount of sweetness and consistency will impress you despite the garlic bits you are likely to bite in to.
With Kolkata-based chef Biswajit taking over the kitchen as Chef de Cuisine at Ayna, the pan-Indian restaurant at Hilton, Chennai has launched a completely new and exhaustive menu. Though this includes specialties from every state, the chef says, “The Bengali dishes that I have introduced in the menu are the highlights right now.” The 39-year-old who previously worked with The Leela at Kovalam elaborates, “I want to keep the dishes authentic and therefore I haven’t tried any fusion for the time being.”
As we talked, a rather sweet gulkand-flavoured mockta
il was served to us followed by the starter platters. The vegetarian starters included Amritsari Tandoori Chaap, a Punjabi style soya chaap and Kappa Vada, a Malabar variety of fried tapioca patties — both mildly flavoured. However, Eichor-er chop, a Bengali preparation of jackfruit patties piqued our interest. The mildly spiced, yet crispy patties, are one of the chef’s signature dishes, we’re told.
Moving on to the non-vegetarian platter, we tried the Murgh Zaitooni Kebab, succulent pieces of creamy chicken with chopped olives followed by Nazrana-e-Gosht, lamb kebab served three ways — as spicy chops, seekh kebab as well as soft boti kebabs.
Jumping ahead to the main course, we had three variety breads — soft Tandoori Parantha, flaky Lachcha Parantha and Paronthi Naan with poppy seeds. These came paired with Meen Mulakittu Vattichatu, a kokum-flavoured fish curry spiced with chillies and shallots, a Kerala favourite; Nimuda Kukkad, a lemongrass flavoured chicken and Dhansak, a thick lamb curry cooked with vegetables, a Parsi specialty.
The Noormahal Biryani, a pretty bowl of dum biryani with cottage cheese pearls and tossed vegetables was a heavy dish, and we suggest you opt for a non-vegetarian version for a more satisfying biryani experience. Finally, the dessert platter that came with Benami Kheer, freshly churned Aam Panna ice-cream (a chef’s special) and the classic Gulab Jamun won our hearts.