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Eat: Photoessay

By Christine Pemberton
Lavaash is not simply the name of one of Delhi’s hottest new restaurants, it is also the name of the only food to make it to the UNESCO intangible heritage list. Lavaash, you see, means bread. Specifically Armenian bread. And this is where this story begins. With the traditional cuisine of Armenia.

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But before we set out on our voyage of discovery to Armenia, just take a look out of the window at your drop-dead gorgeous Delhi view. The Qutb Minar in all its glory.

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Armenian cuisine is at the heart of Lavaash and to quote Chef Saby “is the fruit of my lost nostalgic past.” And even more specifically, the restaurant showcases the cuisine of the Armenians of West Bengal.

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Armenians found their way to India centuries before the British colonisers arrived. Growing up in the small town of Asansol, Chef Saby was surrounded by the influences of the small community of Armenians who ran bakeries and managed small restaurants.

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Without fully realising it, the young Sabyasachi Gorai was assimilating these influences and customs and cultural references - from his Armenian headmaster to the delicious Armenian Christmas cake to - wait for it - the “tonir”, the traditional Armenian bread oven. From tonir to tandoor…

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If you worried what Armenian-Bengali fusion food would look like, you can stop worrying. There are some traditional Bengali dishes on offer. But there is lots of stand-alone, non fusion-y Armenian cuisine, in all its understated glory. Think Middle eastern with just a hint of something totally different…

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And then there are some classics which you just can’t live without : chocolate mousse with love from Armenia.

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The look of the restaurant is happy and relaxed and unpretentious, full of bright colours, “kantha” work upholstery, high ceilings and views of trees and the iconic Qutb Minar.

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A final thought : India has the Armenians to thank for paneer and curd which they brought with them, along with their bread and their ovens.





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