A work of art – a poem, a painting, a song or a special recipe – is a medium for the artist to tell his story. Chef and consultant K. M. Saif unravels the story of his journey across South America, Europe and South East Asia through his dishes at Asanjo, Aundh.
This recently inaugurated restaurant at Aundh, opposite reliance/next to Mc Donalds is a cozy little place with brightly painted walls and a comfortable decor. #TheBTeam was invited to try out their creations, and man, were we in for a ride!
We started off with the Sweet, sour and spicy punch , a bright green mocktail with coriander, pineapple, jalapeno and chillis, in a glass lined with a red chilli/salt masala. The flavor of the coriander and lemon shone through making this the perfect start to cool off a hot day.
The Harissa Minced Chicken Skewers had a soft bite of chili and garlic. Unlike most skewer dishes, this was moist and flavorful. The harissa mayo dip served along side took it to the next level.
Korean Chicken Nachos – Beetroot flavored nachos with Gochujang spiced chicken and gochujang spiced cheese. The grilled chicken was sweet ‘n spicy, with a mild salsa dip. While the topping was delicious and cheesy, the nacho chip itself was rather meh. Tasted more like one of those masala pooris you would find in a Gujarati home. Next time, choose one of the other nacho base options and you are golden.
Papas a la Saif: This is Chef Saif’s take on the Peruvian dish Papa a la Huancaína. Fried potato discs slathered with a mildly spiced yellow cheese sauce, topped with boiled eggs. The crisp fried potato discs along with the cheese sauce are absolutely divine. We noticed that by the time we were done taking photographs, the potato discs went a bit soggy. The first bite was relatively crispy, so this is definitely one dish you want to finish off quickly!
Joojeh kabab: This Persian dish flaunts an exotic combination of flavors of saffron and orange zest, served with the Persian version of our raita – “mast o khair”. Interesting flavor combination, the chicken could have used a few extra minutes on the grill. The saffron and citrus flavors really shone through this rather mild kabab.
Sambal Baby Potatoes: An Indonesian dish, baby potatoes tossed in onion, garlic and the spicy sambal sauce are absolute pleasure to eat! The crisp potato skin with the mild hit of the sambal chilies, the bite of the bell peppers and the flavor of garlic – this was one of my favorite vegetarian dishes on their menu.
Bandeja Paisa: Paisa refers to a person from the Paisa Region of Columbia and Bandeja is Spanish for platter. This is a typical meal popular in Columbian cuisine, characterized by a variety of meat, rice and beans.
Asanjo serves their own version of the platter in the form of a gorgeous sizzler with grilled chicken breast, chicken sausages, plantain, shredded chicken, beans and rice, with a fried egg sitting pretty on top. The brown sauce, prepared from chicken stock, is luxurious, with the flavors of the meat and pepper enhancing every bite you take. An amazingly balanced dish overall, this is a must have when at Asanjo.
Chicken Mansaf: A dish originating from Jordan, Chicken Mansaf is one of the most delicate dishes I have had in recent times. The Chef really pushes the envelope in terms of flavor with the Chicken Mansaf, with a chicken and yogurt stew, characterized by the gentle flavors of saffron, parsley and cinnamon. The rice is topped with roasted+fried almonds, which give it a remarkable flavor and texture. While this dish isn’t for the spice chasers, the flavor profile will keep you going back for more.
Gallo pinto is a traditional dish of Costa Rica and Nicaragua made with rice and black beans. This vegetarian version is served with a grilled cottage cheese steak, a delicious mango salsa, red pepper sauce and dill sauce. The combination of the spicy red pepper sauce, sweet mango salsa and the dill yogurt is unparalleled.
The best way to eat this is take a bit of all ingredients on your spoon. You first taste the sweetness of the mangoes, followed by the sourness of the salad dressing. The spice of the red cheese sauce slowly nudges through the beans and the rice. The last flavor to linger on your palate is of the freshness of the dill yogurt, as you sit back and appreciate the complexity of the dish.
They also offer a range of desserts, including a couple of ridiculously large freak shakes! We tried the Red Velvet Shake (milk , vanilla ice cream, whipped cream chocolate sauce, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, red velvet cake , garnished with chocilate ganache, hershy’s kisses & m.n.m ‘s) and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Milk shake (a peanut explosion, if I may say so ) topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, peanut brittle, pretzel with m.n.m’s , chocolate swirl, garnished with chocolate ganache, peanut butter, m.n.m.’s & peanut butter cups
Chef Saif outdoes himself in curating the experience at Asanjo. Each sauce has been created with a lot of thought and the complexity behind the flavor profiles of each sauce is truly something to marvel at. Each plate is a piece of art, leaving you soul satisfied.
My experience was part of a tasting event. The Usual Disclaimer applies.