Gastropubs serving fusion food is the current trend in F&B, amalgamating different cuisines, new cooking techniques and ingredients are all part of this new culinary experience. When a celebrity Chef curates the menu then expectations go soaring. Pandora Gastronomy & Bar is one such place, its menu and recipes have been innovatively created by Chef Ajay Chopra, and thankfully our expectations were met for most of meal. Chef Ajay Chopra is an Indian celebrity chef who also hosts Hi Tea on Food Food Channel and has also co-hosted MasterChef India Season 1 and 2.Food Prowl Team (Standing Leftside) Abhishek Ramgadia, Satwik Shetty, Aditya Gokhale, Varun Khanna (Standing Rightside) Ritesh Tiwari, Chinmayi Bhambure, Varad Wazarkar, Dr. Anupam Potdar and Shyam Sharma
The Food Prowl Team was at invited for a food tasting at the Pandora Gastronomy & Bar. To start with they have a 5-minute gastronomy section on their menu, it has 3 dishes that they commit to deliver in 5 minutes flat no matter what time of the day or how much crowded the place. We had the Tuna Bhel and it did arrive within the specified time, fantastic tangy Bhel made gourmet with sour cream and balsamic pearls to add flavor depth, flavor wise it was fantastic, yet it could do with just a little more Tuna. The pretty looking soups arrived next, they were not just pretty, equally delicious as well. Both the soups we had same with a bowl with neatly placed ingredients and the broth separately, to be poured at the table. Spiced Canton had steamed dumplings in the bowl with greens and few twirls of rice noodles, served with an aromatic broth, entire combination worked very well. Murg Dakhni Shorba had appalam (south Indian papads) with a coconut milk based yellow broth, though it was very flavorful, it tasted more Asian than Indian. Salads followed soups, and they took our expectations even higher, really fresh and toothsome salads. Som Tam Salad, made with raw papaya, peanuts and nampla sauce dressing, served with chicken satay. The nampla sauce just elevated flavor quotient and complexity of the salad, loved it thoroughly. Arugula & Candied Walnut Salad, was a green salad with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini cheese instead of feta, the candied walnuts were unique ingredient, adding crunch and sweetness to the salad.
After the soups and salads, we were expecting the graph to sour even further, but the starters were a like a little trough. Crispy Honey Chilli Lotus Roots, while the flavor was good, the just fried lotus roots were put in a mold to stack them, and as they were hot all of them stuck to each other, that made eating them individually a cumbersome task. Chicken Cafreal Skewers, didn’t impress us at all, it didn’t have any distinct flavor. Hot Bean Prawn Rocks were only goof starter, they had king prawns deep fried and in a hot bean and chilli sauce, it would be better sans the batter and frying, just the shell prawns tossed in the sauce, that might make the prawns the star they ought to be.Thankfully the trough became crest again with mains and remained at that level throughout the meal again. Nalli Nihari with Khameeri Roti, perfect earthy flavors and the texture enhanced with the gelatin from from the lamb shanks, and the rotis were just superb, delicate naturally fermented. Dum ka Murg with Lachedaar Paratha, a non-spicy and flavorful dish with dry-fruits & saffron curry base and laced with fried onions. Sri Lankan Curry with Coconut & Cabbage Rice was another essence packed dish. Medium spicy made with coconut and pandan leaves, it was contrasting to the two other curries we had and pleased our taste buds. After three curries we tried Saffron Prawns Risotto, creamy subtle flavor of saffron with cheese and olives and prawns, it has a humble yet impressive preparation. After such good meal we needed some nice desserts.
Hazelnut & Salted Caramel Moelleux won our hearts in first bite. If was not exactly soft centered like a traditional moelleux yet it has a creamy mousse textured pastry layered above chocolate, on a bed of chocolate soil, fruity pearls and salted caramel, a mélange of flavors that together created a harmonious symphony, and the gold foil added royalty to it. Gajar ka Halwa was also served with a lot of fusion as Gajar Halwa Boreks, it had gajar ka halwa within phyllo pastry sheets, rolled like a cigar, dunked in sugar syrup and served with rose ice cream. The sugar syrup made it a very sweet dessert, and the gajar ka halwa got lost in a way. Phirni Parfait was the final dish of the day rose flavored phirni layered with fresh fruits in a cocktail glass, topped with rose pearls and a crushed liquid nitrogen dunked rose flower, that is done on the table for the theatrics, overall a decent dessert.
The cocktails were also with a twist and of all that we tasted Elderfashioned was my favorite, it was a bourbon-based drink flavored with thyme and elderflower. The LIIT was also very good.
As we got up considering it as end of our meal, the server came with Paan Flavored Macarons that had a bowl alongside, we started dipping each macaron in liquid nitrogen and landing hem straight into our mouths. Now when you have this there will be a lot of smoke coming out of your mouth, but you need to be careful not getting lost in the smoke, and don’t keep it in your mouth for very long as it might burn your palate or tongue.
Pandora Gastronomy & Bar does well to bring something new to the table. Fusion food can be challenging but Pandora manages more hits than misses.
Special Thanks to Sasha Anand, Pomelo Social for inviting us.
Pandora Gastronomy & Bar, Yerawada, Pune | Food Prowl - The Hunger Stories