Ssence – A Culinary Showcase (The Suryaa Hotel, New Friends Colony, New Delhi)


This is a review of Uttar Pradesh Kayasth food  buffet at Ssence

In a nutshell:

Home like food, cooked not by Restaurant Chefs but home cooks, YUMM but not heavy, really enjoyable.

ssence
ssence

Address & other details: Suryaa, SuryaaSsence,

Meal for 2: Rs. 4100 is the buffet cost which has Indian, a bit of Asian & also Continental food. Kayasth menu was a subset of it. U pay for the full buffet.

Cuisine type : Vegetarian & nonvegetarian

Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.

Receipt - proof of payment
Receipt – proof of payment

I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.

Short description – in case u r in a hurry:

Read about this place while randomly surfing the net. This sounded interesting as a concept. So landed up there on a Saturday evening.On reaching there realized that they have different themes in their dinner buffets on different days of the week – every Saturday they have the UP kayasth menu.

chdelier in the dining room
chandelier in the dining room

The restaurant is located in a posh hotel named Suryaa. The interiors of the restaurant was very plain, simple, yet very nice & tastefully done.

Suryaa
Suryaa

A standee placed near the entrance had very appealing pictures of Kayasth menu. However, once inside, there was very little mention. The waiting staff did not call out the Kayasth menu. On one corner on a white board the items were scribbled down.

A long shot of the dining hall
A long shot of the dining hall

As we reached the buffet section, we were a bit lost in trying to figure out which one is kayasth & which one is regular menu. It was then that the Chef noticed us & walked up. We asked about the concept & what followed was a great chat.

Seating arrangement
Seating arrangement

For the uninitiated, Kayasth is a caste in India & people belonging to this caste stay all over India in many states. So my first question to the Chef was ‘what kayasth menu is this?’ Coz there r kayasths in Bengal, Orissa, bihar, UP & a lot more places. The answer was ‘UP’.

meat
Khare masale ka bhuna meat

He told us that his team had experts in different kinds of cuisines. However the UP kayasth menu is not cooked / curated by his team. He mentioned to us that a lady named Anoothi Vishal curated this menu & she got people to cook it as well, using the Hotel’s kitchen premises. That sounded interesting. I said ‘ u mean they did the full commercial cooking – not just giving the recipes?’ He said ‘yes, whatever is laid down in the buffet has been made by them’. Wow.

Details of the food festival
Details of the food festival

He then showed us all the dishes on by one & explained the background of each. We were lucky to have him explain to us but wud b great if in general the hotel finds a way to call out this unique offering by some pop up display mechanism. Coz else there is no way to find out – Kayasth menu arbi was kept aside Punjabi paneer makhani & there was no way one cud make out what is what.

IMG_1426
sweet samosa for dessert (outside of kayasth menu)

The Chef also pointed out that this cuisine is unique in the way it takes inspiration from both Hindu & Islamic kitchens of the post Mughal era. We saw glimpses of this initially while having the veggies. The moment we moved on to pulaos, this similarity became very clear.

Service was excellent. The guy serving us was really cooperative, warm very attentive. He made us feel at home.

Food was lovely. Eating non restaurant food sitting in the comforts of a restaurant. Or, in different words, eating brilliant home food without being invited to someone from that community.

Detailed description – in case u have the time to njoy reading:

We started our dinner with Chicken yakhni shorba. It was served in a covered cup & we drank straight from it.

Chicken yakhni shorba served in a covered cup
Chicken yakhni shorba served in a covered cup

It had a predominant dhania flavor, was very very refreshing, not too heavy on the palate, not thick, not too thin as well, spicy and had an aftertaste of hot. Loved the taste, texture & the overall feel. Rate it 4.5/5

Chicken yakhni shorba
Chicken yakhni shorba

We tried freshly fried veg Pakoda that waa made with Daal, aloo, pyaz, whole dhania. Perfectly crispy outside, perfect seasoning, soft inside, very good to taste. Rate it 4/5

veg Pakoda
veg Pakoda

From the live counter beside, we tried Khatta fish pakoda. It was different and good. Fish was soft but not juicy. This was due to long marination of the fish. The marination was tangy & nice. Loved the dish. Rate it 4.25/5

Khatta fish pakoda
Khatta fish pakoda

Dum ke kathal (jackfruit) was a bit tangy dry dish – a vegetable not commonly served in restaurants. It was very soft, the difficult parts of the jackfruit were removed & well cleaned. Really liked the dish & rate it 4.25/5

Dum ke kathal
Dum ke kathal

We moved on to Palak mangori (wadi). The mangori was brilliant & had excellent flavors. The Palak was nice but winter palak wud hv been surely better. Dish was very delicious overall. Rate it 4.5/5.

Palak mangori
Palak mangori

Aamchoori arhar ki daal had a very home made touch, not at all like restaurant dal fry. As expected grains of daal cud b seen but they were soft at the same time. Aamchoor added tanginess & flavor. Simple yet brilliant dish. Rate it 4.25/5

Aamchoori arhar ki daal
Aamchoori arhar ki daal

Sabut tindey was robust but the spices were not not overwhelming. The flavours were nice. Loved the perfectly cooked texture of tindey. My co–diner found the gravy a tad too sour but I liked it (in the context of 47 degrees of Delhi summer). Rate it 4/5.

Sabut tindey
Sabut tindey

Margul arbi lajawab!!! Soft boiled arbi crusted with masalas. Slightly burnt on the edges. One of the best dishes for the evening. Rate it 4.5/5

Margul arbi lajawab
Margul arbi lajawab

Somewhere around this time we were served freshly fried bedmi pooris. Outstanding. They were so flavorful and nice that I cud not convince my tastebuds to try some poori with subzi. Ended up having it just as it is. Rate it 4.5/5

bedmi poori
bedmi poori

We moved on to Ram daney ki tehri. Ram dana was small besan nuggets. The nuggets had a nice flavor but I found it a wee bit dry. The rice had excellent flavours & it was super soft, melt in the mouth. Long aromatic grains of rice made this dish stand apart. Rate the dish 4.25/5

Ram daney ki tehri
Ram daney ki tehri

Murg ke parchay was tawa fried marinated chicken (kind of) satays. It was dry, soft, moderately spiced, flavorful. Wud have been great if served hot & freshly prepared. Rate it 3.5/5

Murg ke parchay
Murg ke parchay

Next dish we had was Murg yakhni pulao. We felt that even if you don’t eat the’murg’ in the murg yakhni pulao you wont miss anything. The real magic lied in the extremely fragrant rice – again, super soft, long , aromatic, independent morsels of rice that was just too YUMM. Our hands were on auto mode transferring food from plate to mouth, inspite of belly signaling ‘over capacity’.

Murg yakhni pulao
Murg yakhni pulao

Murg pieces were good as well. Had murg pieces been as good as the rice, this dish wud hv got a rating of 4.95/5. Being what it was, rate this dish 4.5/5

Methi murg was really good. Popular dish, lots of people make it. This one surely stood out due to its sheer taste & flavor, the use of good honest ingredients & simple home cooking method. Rate it 4.25/5

Methi murg
Methi murg

Khare masala ka bhuna meat was excellent. Super soft meat in a slightly sweet, hot & salt gravy. Sweetness came from the onions. Loved the intense & rustic taste & flavors. Rate it 4.5/5

Khare masale ka bhuna meat
Khare masale ka bhuna meat

There was no dessert in Kayasth Menu. So we skipped dessert.

We also had fresh ripe Mango juice. It was thick & pulpy. Not much was added to it & it came out very well. Rate it 4.25/5

 fresh ripe Mango juice
fresh ripe Mango juice

Rating of Kayasth food at Ssence averages out to 4.25/5

Recommended to all who love good home cooked food that is authentic & very tasty at the same time.

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