A visit to Flavours of Lahore, a newly opened restaurant, off Main Boulevard, Gulberg, will show you that the place lives up to its name, and how.
The place prides itself on offering the original and authentic taste of the traditional Lahori cuisine, without any extra usage of spices and unsafe additives. On top of that, the meal is cooked right before your eyes, so you are witness to the hygienic conditions applied.
“We welcome people with good taste, and those who know what desi food is about,” explained proprietor Hassan Khurram Sarwar, a qualified chartered accountant. “I believe if you are getting traditional Pakistani food but aren’t sure of hygiene, that’s where we step in.”
Talking about the cuisine methodology, Sarwar said, “We have incorporated traditional methods including age-old copper utensils, and also roped in khandani (ancestral) chefs who know the olden method of cooking. These chefs have it in their blood, so to speak.”
It’s all set in a contemporary style. As I entered the two-storey, lively building, with my family in tow, we were greeted by food art in vivid patterns covering the walls. The dining sofas, upholstered in red, and a serving bar offering fresh dahi bhallas and samosas also looked fetching.
Obviously, we hadn’t come here for the ambience only. So, we quickly got down to ordering the food, after consulting the affable owner who made sure that each and every item was well cooked before presented to us.
He seemed to sense our apprehensions because the place is in its early phase yet; it has only been opened a week back. Honestly speaking, we did expect some failings. But we were in for a pleasant surprise.
The first item that got to us turned out to be the show stealer — totally. It was all about an authentic rendering of Lahori cuisine bursting with flavours. The dahi bhallas were enriched with phulkis, fresh yogurt (our prime concern!), coriander, green chillies, and a dash of meethi chutney. Although it was dinner time, this item is served throughout the day with Rotisserie Chicken.
A small LCD downstairs was broadcasting a live view of the chefs working on the clay tandoor and the kitchen where the food was being prepared. The owner was delighted to tell us the basic concept he had in mind while designing the place: “Know what you are eating.
“We are sourcing meat from the most well reputed shops around. Besides, we purchase oil from the best company, and use filtered water and quality spices.”
The place specifically targets the middle-class customer, and it serves food in much less time during lunch hours.
Next, we were served the old-fashioned Shami Burger, basted with mint chili sauce, and topped with omelet which is also making a big revival these days. It was priced at Rs220 per serving, and included fresh salad and fries. It must be noted that the salad bowl is served with specially prepared yogurt-based chutney instead of thick creamy sauces.
The cardamom-scented korma and beef nihari is their declared specialty. A customary gravy base with the spot-on masala, caramelised onions, homemade yogurt and stone grounded spices gave off a lovely flavour.
For us it was the beef nihari, devoid of meetha sodas that we are so accustomed to eating elsewhere, took the lead, what with its tender pieces of beef boti steeped in fresh turmeric with lime juice. It instantly reminded me of my first date with nihari on a trip to Dubai last year.
Biryani was more of a filler now, albeit their house specials are worth trying, especially nihari and tawa champ mutton coupled with a generous dose of buttery naans and fresh rotis hot off the tandoor.
To cap it all, you can’t escape a tasty serving of the most revered twin share of gulab jamuns that still water my mouth as I am writing this review.
They also offer gaajar ka halwa and plan to change the dessert menu during the summers.
We couldn’t try the dry items like the Tawa Chicken, or fish, and their most innovative karrahis and handis which we left for some other day.
Flavours of Lahore is clearly a vision of the distinct tastes of the city cuisines realised. Oh, by the way, it was fair to the pocket too!