Saga in Gurugram puts the limelight on India’s food heritage

Payel Majumdar Upreti
There is no doubt about the fact, that India’s food diversity gives ample opportunity for a restaurant to experiment with its many nuances. Located on Golf Course Road, Atul Kochhar and Vishal Anand’s Gurugram restaurant Saga has been among the few places experimenting with old recipes and ingredients, presenting them in a completely new avatar.
Bringing cultures together
Atul Kochhar believes that Indian food from different parts of the country, such as Kashmiri and Malayali food is as diverse as Norwegian and South Italian fare. However, he believes that this gives the kitchen at Saga a wider palate to work with, and they have been trying to showcase the food, juxtapose different cuisines and highlight the best of both worlds.
Sample their latest menu, which features small plates such as the Nadru ki chaat, Gahat ki Kachori, Chicken tikka pie, Prawn ghee roast, among other items.
Saga restaurant
Nadru ki chaat
Picture courtesy: Saga restaurant
‘Nadru’ refers to lotus stem, which is fried crisp and thin, served on a platter with dahi, mint chutney and other condiments, that make it seem like papdi chaat, familiar yet totally new. Or their Gadhwali gahat ki kachori with shorba, is similar to dal kachori, a popular Rajasthani snack, but made with horsegram, or gahat, a dal eaten in Uttarakhand primarily, and served with the pahadi preparation of the dal on the side, an element that reinforces its flavour.
Saga restaurant
Saga’s food is all heart. Says Chef Kush Kohli, who has been heading the kitchen, “Homegrown is often celebrated when it comes to cuisines in India. Every dish in the kitchen starts with someone’s memory, and is designed to evoke one in our diners as well.” Sample the meen polichethu, served with jhaal muri, which incorporates cuisines from two parts of the country – Kerala and West Bengal, and puts it together in harmony with each other, reinventing regional cuisine with this juxtaposition.”
Kochhar’s London influence shows in the paneer tikka puff pastry tart, served with crème fraiche, a delightful mini tart made with puff pastry, with a smoky light paneer tikka sitting atop it, and a dollop of crème fraiche rounding off the delightful creation.
Khade masale ki boti, a spicy mutton dish meant as an appetiser, is clearly a crowd favourite. As the name suggests, it is made of select whole garam masala, the hero of the dish.
Two cultures on the same plate
Prawn ghee roast with tomato rasam shots served alongside is another stunning combination, the acidity of the beverage accompanying the sweet juicy meat of the prawn very well. The restaurant, catering to local demand, has recently begun serving lamb biryani, as well as raan; the latter must be ordered 24 hours in advance. A place popular for special occasions, the 200-seat diner with multiple seating options for both couples and big groups can’t not have a killer biryani, in a country like India, especially when their forte is Indian fare.

 

Saga restaurant
Picture courtesy: Saga restaurant
Saga serves up a killer lamb biryani, that works well with their rose-inspired cocktails, or even the Mediterranean Gimlet. For dessert, we opted for a caramel bhapa doi, a take on the famous steamed yoghurt dessert from Bengal, that reminds one of a cross between a crème brulee and a cheesecake.
Saga restaurant
The interiors of Saga. Photo courtesy: Saga
The interiors are plush, in tones of black and white. The décor de facto makes the place welcoming, and sets the tone for a good time. The highlight is the bar, which is at least two stories tall, right in the middle of the building, a conversation starter for sure. The bar menu has been designed keeping in mind the food ethos of the plate, and uses the same ingredients in the kitchen to present a list of cocktails that enhance the flavour of the food. Saga is definitely designed for those who unabashedly love Indian food, its culture and its heritage, but don’t mind giving it a modern twist, or playing around with unconventionality. Otherwise, who would have thought of putting a chicken ala kiev and butter chicken recipe together in one dish, but hey, when it works it works, right?
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