Panayaa, Kalyani Nagar
A leading brand from Mumbai, Panayaa is a celebrated Vegetarian fine dine popular for their concept of ‘Modern Indian Cuisine’.
Coming to how the ‘Indian Kitchen’ turns ‘Modern’? Blame it on another rage in the market, Molecular Gastronomy. Some very traditional Indian recipes, majority of which include humble street food is presented in a spectacular avatar. There is a lot of drama and of course every second dish comes with a trailing cloud of smoke. If ‘Khaman Oxide’, ‘Corn Bhel Cornetto’ and ‘Mohanthal Cheesecake’ tempt you much, or rather intrigue you enough – then heading to Panayaa should be given a shot.
Panayaa translates to ‘Astonishing’ or ‘Admirable ‘in the Sanskrit Language. Their focus is on Progressive Indian Cuisine and aims at delighting all your senses with their dining experience. I would hands down agree that their ‘ambience’ is definitely a ‘crowd puller’ with a sense of calm. A well lit space with a lot of nature inspired aesthetics and music that compliments some free flowing conversations.
Amidst all the Drama and Nitrogen Theatrics, here’s a list of my Top 5 at Panayaa!
Parmesan Cheese Paprika Croute
There couldn’t be a better start. The veloute (French for sauce) is finger licking delicious and deserves all praise. The croute (toasted bread) was polished off within seconds of its arrival. It’s cheesy with a spark, which can lead you to switch loyalties in case you are a ‘tomato soup’ lover.
Bhelpuri Version 2.0
There you go! Something which successfully accomplishes all the hype and brings a smile to your face. The bhel puri version 2.0 is smarter and bolder. The nitrogen fumes impart a very cool effect, bringing the temperature down while raising the flavor bar.
Harabhara kebab is passé. At Panayaa, the Kumbh (mushroom) surpasses standards of deliciousness and easily claims to be the ‘star of the evening’. An appetizer worth trying.
Cottage Cheese Indiana
Good old Paneer Tikka which gladly saves up on the theatrics and comes out laden with flavors. Mildly spicy and beautifully succulent. Try this if you want to keep it simple.
Finely diced vegetables sautéed in a caramelized brown sauce and loaded with kasturi methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is a winner. The flavor of kasturi methi is strong and lends an aroma, that can’t be overlooked.
The Paneer Multani gravy seemed quite ubiquitous but did not falter taste-wise. On the lines of a Paneer Makhani but with the right balance of tanginess and sweet.
Smoked Rasam was another appetizing and satisfying option to sip on. Traditional rasam consommé (a type of clear soup) smoked with a charcoal-desi ghee finish, topped with a crispy mini dosa.
Can Cheese Munchies ever go wrong? They don’t let you down at Panayaa even. Classic cutlets rolled out from cheese and bell peppers, dipped in a creole (piquant tomato gravy) sauce.
Moving on, we also tried a few more desi dishes, which fell short inspite of the jaw dropping looks and top notch presentation skills. I call it More drama. Less Performance.
The popular Gujarati dish- Khaman (made from soaked and freshly ground Chana Dal) is a delight to binge on. But the ‘oxide’ bit leaves you perplexed and thinking if all the fuss was even necessary? Sadly, the essence of the khaman also lost its way in the picture.
The Chole Bunny Chow was another baffling and complicated dish. The flavor of Chole in particular was fabulous and stands out immediately at the first bite. But, the bunny chow base (hollowed out French baguette) lets you down. Tangy chole with some bhaturas or kulcha could have worked wonders and we missed that.
The Corn Bhel Maze Cornetto was less aMAZing than I expected! The corn bhel is creamy topped with bell pepper frosting and stuffed in maize cones. A little overdose of corn in every form, fails to impress.
It pains my heart to not like a desserts especially when it is overloaded with chocolate. The Chocolate Landscape is a live dessert, prepared from scratch right at your tables. The problem here lies possibly in the ‘overuse’ of chocolate. Too many cooks spoil the broth and that is precisely what happens with this. Too many tempting elements – read mudcake soil, chocolate shavings, chocolate syrup, chocolate chunks etc keep you heavy breathing throughout the process but fail to deliver. The end result is a mixed pile of overly sweet things, which fail to exhibit any delicious properties.
The experience was definitely a mixed bag considering they went slightly overboard with the concept of ‘Molecular Gastronomy’. Mariplex Mall, which seemed dead up till a while ago seems to have got a fresh breath of air with Panayaa. This could be a more sought after Vegetarian fine dine, if we try and stick to the basics here. I would prefer more traditional, less Modern.
Disclaimer: This Review is based on a complimentary invite extended by Alpha Events on behalf of Panayaa. Special mention to Carina Bhagchandani and Sunny Nikam for being gracious hosts for the evening. The opinion expressed in the review is entirely my own and in no manner influenced by any party.