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Turkish delights

In a restaurant as huge as the first-class lounge of an international airport, you can get the best of international cuisine with both style and substance

It would cost you Rs 40,000 for a return flight ticket from Istanbul, plus hotel charges, plus other expenses if you want to amble down to the streets of Istanbul looking for something truly sacred — food.

The whole trip would’ve made a small (or big) dent in your wallet — but what if the aroma, the spices, and even the chefs land in Delhi and serve you the best of Turkey? That’s a deal a person with a penchant for delicacies won’t refuse. And we didn’t.

Inside the closed fancy doors of Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, a 10-day exotic food fest was hosted in association with Swissotel The Bosphorus, Istanbul and Turkish Airlines. The hotel’s signature restaurant — Pluck — was the chosen space to offer rich spice-infused dishes to the guests. This avant-garde restaurant also boasts of an in-house farm to ensure the supply and the freshness of the ingredients.

Passing through the plush lobby of the hotel, and finding our way to Pluck, we reached the La La Land of food. Above us was a mushroom-inspired low ceiling and in front of us stations and stations of different food sections. More than a food fest, it looked like a spread one would have at a wedding.

It will be wrongful to not admit that the gorgeous-looking Turkish ceramic bowls held our attention for some time, until one of the managers asked us to choose a table. I kid you not, the restaurant is huge, like the first class lounge of an international airport.

As you sit down in a corner, a wall-size mirror like a huge cinema screen stares at you. The interiors are very beige and pink, giving true Oriental vibes.

Soon, Mayank Pande, Assistant Manager informs us that the chef Abdullah Olgun, who works at Swissotel in Istanbul, will soon see us. In no time the chef arrives in his bright white uniform to take us for a tour of the delicacies on offer.

“Normally okra is used in Indian cuisine as well. But not like this. We have cooked okra in olive oil, we have it sautéed,” he tells us while giving us a small tour of the Meze section.

In fact, the dishes in the Meze section are all cooked in olive oil, keeping in mind the fastidious habits of health freaks. The chef suggests that we take small portions of each of the dishes from this section to get a flavour of Turkish cuisine.

The lavash available at the section was in two different colours too. It was time for us to start with the dishes from the starter section.

A clean plate is like a canvas. Just like a canvas you fill it in with colours, packing the right quantity in each corner so that the final effect is appealing and looks aesthetic.

First we tried our hand at Haydari, strained yoghurt with dried mint and garlic. This Turkish yoghurt dip can be eaten with a lavash or pita bread. The dip was smooth enough to take us on a ride to a creamy wonderland.

The second dish we put on the plate was Baba Ghanoush, roasted eggplant, tomato, pepper, pomegranate sauce. The eggplant amalgamated with the pomegranate sauce well enough to not make it an outright confusing dish. It’s a risky combination. The pomegranate is citrusy and strong in flavour, so is eggplant. However, Chefs Olgun and Ibrahim Yaman blend both the dishes well, else the outcome would’ve been a very sour dish.

Saying goodbye to the Meze section, we fixed our eyes on the grill section. A grill in any restaurant is an important entity for Indians. Having consumed enough Mughlai food in our lives, we Indians know the value of a good grill menu.

And as expected, the grill at Pluck didn’t disappoint us in the slightest. In fact, we stuffed ourselves, uncaring of what was waiting for us — the main course and dessert.

In the meantime, we were served a customised Rose Vodka cocktail. Unlike some (or most) restaurants, the drinks here didn’t feel diluted or slightly tweaked. The cocktail was fresh, the rose floating atop the drink. The smell of a fresh pink rose kept wafting out of the glass every now and then.

The next task at hand was trying out the grill section. The first dish we piled on our plates was Pistachio Kebab, which is priced at Rs 1,150. The kebabs were a raunchy affair of charcoal and masala. A little different from your regular kebabs, they were irresistibly soft. The aroma didn’t disperse in the air till the last bite.

Turkey doesn’t dominate the buffet — we also tried the tandoori chicken (Rs 900) and paneer tikka (Rs 700). Both of these charcoal fumed dishes are available in the restaurant’s regular menu as well, as part of Chef Degustation Menu called ‘Fusion.’

Giving up the chance to partake of the salmon and lamb felt like the mistake of a lifetime, so we chose to stay wise. The lamb at the restaurant is fresh as a flower and won’t leave you disappointed for shelling out big bucks.

Taking a long break from the food, we admired the interiors of the restaurant, which have a calming effect on the whole experience. It won’t be wrong to say that on a regular day, it’s a satisfying space for you to sip some coffee and read. Because of the dimensions, there is less chances of hearing chattering.

Gaining some energy, we were very selective in choosing the main course. In our plate was braised lamb shank with aubergine puree, the puree being the active ingredient in this dish. The lamb was cooked in a deft way, where the insides were very soft and the corners not so much. Usually pieces of lamb end up soggy and shapeless.

Reminding ourselves that a little sugar doesn’t make the milk overflow, we headed to the dessert section. It’s a whole spread of happiness, a treat even to behold — from pure chocolate concoctions to coffee and milk-based sweets.

We tried the Mile High Chocolate Noir (Rs 650), a dessert that has at its core mascarpone, an Italian cream cheese. For us, it was all about the richness of cocoa, satisfying your chocolate craving.

Another dessert we really liked was a strawberry-based pastry infused with cinnamon meringue, which will set you back by Rs 650. It certainly looks more appealing than the other desserts on display, if that’s possible.

To cut it short: The buffet system at Pluck is inclusive of many cuisines, not just Turkish. It has pretty fabulous dishes available in the Mains section of the European menu, so one can go and savour this any day. The desserts are available in any array of flavours and colours, and leave you exhausted by the sheer choices at your disposal. Which, for a restaurant-goer, is nothing less than a blessing.

The restaurant has à la carte Indian and European menu and three separate buffet choices starting at Rs 3,000 per person

Patriot reviewed the restaurant on invitation .