When I write about a restaurant I usually keep this paragraph to the bottom end, since it sums up my views about the place. But ZORA made be change my ways, just the way they are changing the food scene in Pune. What one has to learn from them is how to change something you may feel is drab and unexciting to something courageous, brave and stimulating. A place that will make you totally admire food not just because it has been plated phenomenally well but because it has been made with such care and eventually will make you comprehend the amount of research that has gone into the plateful of food right before you that you will fall head over heels in love with it.
So, kudos to Jorawar Sachdev and Priyanka – You eye for detail not only stands out not only in the pristine white and surreal place that you have managed to conjure up but also in the delicious food combinations that you serve with delight and aplomb.
As you step in to Zora, you will see that the interiors exudes a luxurious ambiance. While there are sit down sofas to make you comfortable, there are also white table and chair seating presents an assorted mix of the formal and informal. White feather lamps, elephant tusk lamps, chandeliers and an old gramophone, the place sets your mood for a good evening out. Tones of blue, cream and the touches of gold make the place surely radiant. The outside seating area has these nice cubby holes for an unobtrusive meal. It is all white outside and the lighting makes it all the more soothing.
Have enough to fall in love with this place already? Wait till you experience the food and drinks here!!!
I chose the Steamed Keema Wonton Soup which was served with garlic buttered brun. One sip of the broth and you will go gaga over it. Loved the spice levels and t the steamed wontons were perfectly cooked. The wontons were aptly stuffed. This is a huge serving and if you are a light eater it may form you complete meal. Well I could definitely go in for multiple helpings throughout the evening. #BellydrivenReccomends Try it and believe me, you can thank me later.
I also managed to try some spoonfuls of the Palak Dhaniya Shorba from a fellow blogger he loved it so much that he showed his absolute displeasure when I asked for a spoonful. Well if you don’t like spinach, this version will make change your mind. Mildly flavored, perfectly spiced up and delicious, nutritious spinach soup
The Peanut chaat salad in kasundi (Bengali mustard) dressing is an chic rendition of the humble Jhaal muri. One mouthful and it took me all the way back home. This salad was all about the texture with the crunchy peanuts, tart tomatoes, onions, spicy boiled potato, red cabbage and sev. Mustard is the hero here, so if you’re not a mustard fan, proceed at your own risk. Personally I have grown up eating various avatars of mustard and for this version I am going to go back to ZORA #BellydrivenRecommends
The other salad on the menu was the Stir Fried Kali Mirch Fish in Kadi Patta dressing, again a nice permutation of flavors. Well cooked rawas in a creamy curry leaf dressing. I wish there were a hit of some Malabar flavors in there. The pepper was prominent but my palate wanted to experience the curry infusion more.
TO BEGIN – Vegetarian
The Badami Yoghurt Kebab with chatpatta imli saunt, well have the kebab in isolation it will taste creamy, with the sweetness of almonds and a hint of cardamom. The Indian palate may find it a little bland but have it with the imli saunt and then experience the flavor explosion in your mouth.
Well this was one of my favorites Mushroom and Cheese Bharwan Mirch, with a sweet chilli sauce. Long bhavnagari chillis stuffed with a filling of cream, cheese and mushrooms and basted and roasted well. A take on the desi bharwan mirch recipe which worked perfectly well. #BellydrivenRecommends
Then came the well marinated Tandoori Brocolli that was served with a tangy and sweet aam papad chutney. Again, a blend that will not dishearten you at all.
TO BEGIN – Non-Vegetarian
Ghost Chilli infused Tandoori Chicken gave way to the Bhut Jolokia Tandoori Murgh. The chilli did knock off a few people’s senses that evening but the flavors in this preparation are bold. My palate can withstand a lot of chillis hence I munched on happily. The cilantro foam gave way to the drama that came along with this dish. Let me tell you there is this slight heat, which hangs around after a bite and you may want to wash it down with some amazing mocktails that ZORA serves. #BellydrivenRecommends
Amritsari Bombil with Mango Chilli Chutney, Crisp fried bombil fried with the amritsari batter with a hint of ajwain and the creamy mango chutney complements it perfectly
The flavors were perfect in Indian Spiced Lamb Chops, but I would have preferred a little more meat on the bones
Before venturing into the mains, we were treated with a little palate cleanser. A small mint shikanji flavoured iced jelly cube, which lends a cold relief.
As we were 7 on the table I got to taste a different variety of mains that evening. The mains come pre-plated for one person and they are picture perfect and totally instagrammable.
The highlight of the evening for me was Matka Butter Chicken Lasagna served with a crusty masala naan. A perfectly creamy dilli style butter chicken with an Italian twist with layers of pasta and served inside a matka (earthen pot). I am taking my husband to ZORA who is an avid butter chicken lover, just to try this. #BellydrivenRecommends Absolutely Droolworthy!!!
Well since I finished my mains in no time, I went around the table sampling other mains.
Another one that hit the right chords was the Grilled Baingan Steaks with a Coconut Curry Leaf Gravy. And oh boy!!! Those were some flavors- smoky aubergine discs and an equally enchanting gravy served alongside a tamarind pilaf. You would be missing something incredible if you miss this one out at ZORA #BellydrivenRecommends
The sweet egg shaped buttermilk waffle along with the fiery sukha tawa chicken is another dish that you may want to go back to ZORA for. What an inspired dish this was.
Another unusual combination that sounds gauche is the Goan Prawns Balchao served with Gujarati Theplas and hari mirch ka thecha but the grouping worked clearly very well. All three elements on the plate tasted brilliant and put together as one dish well someone needs to help me here…I am at a loss for words here
The tawa subz fondue was definitely the vegetarian favorite then came along cottage cheese pin wheels with a Sichuan Gravy accompanied by lime butter rice was another take on the east asian flavors.
The Reshmi Malai Chicken Tikka Biryani was more moist that the usual biryani but with such subtle falvors and melt in the mouth Reshmi Tikka that was cooked to perfection. Aboslutely loved it.
Another twist in the tale was the Chicken Dal Khichdi. And I am trying this in my kitchen for sure.
I needed a break after the mains and I took a stroll around ZORA and came back for the much coveted desserts
Chocolate PaniPuri with Bachpan ki yaadein – is served with is served with popping candy, tutti frutti and nutties. Chocolate and butterscotch sauce becomes a perfect substitute for the pani. It’s a super fun dessert. And if you have a kid in tow, make sure you order this one
Another must try is the Old Monk Chocolate Cake…along with brandy schnapps and malai vanilla icecream. Boozy Dessert!!! I am already a fan. #BellydrivenRecommends
Dark chocolate Gulab jamun tart, tender coconut ice cream, caramel splat: A crisp tart with a dark chocolate ganache, not so sweet gulab jamuns accompanied by tender coconut icecream with a drizzle of caramel sauce. A sweet heaven.
The cheese cake added another dimension to the desserts
Aaah before I forget there were a flurry of mocktails that came along during the course of the evening at Zora- #BellydrivenRecommends the Pomegranate and Rose Water Caipiroska that is with a hint of elderflower syrup. The Dessert Martini excelled with a dash of orange bitters. On the other hand the Guava cooler with a hint of red chilli and ginger soda was refreshing. The Pine Berry was a sweet combination of Pineapple juice, cranberry juice, litchi syrup with a blend of cream. The lemon zest Iced team was another excellent mix to try.
The team at Zora were excellent. The service was fabulous and the execution from the start to end is flawless.
So if you want to head to Zora go with your minds completely open. The food is not fusion but delectably progressive. And one of a kind!!!