Zambar has been on my radar for some time now. I love experimenting with coastal cuisine, except for one problem. I am so not comfortable with food cooked in coconut oil. I’m not too mad about seafood either. Zambar silently convinced me to give the variety of vegetarian/chicken preparations the four states of South India have to offer a try.
I didn’t know the South had this much range until I tasted over 10 different vegetarian main course items at a certain place I won’t name here; this review is for Zambar alone. It came time to check out Zambar’s array of non-vegetarian dishes.
And when my friend Sonali Priy Kapoor who also heads the Marcomm of LiteBiteFoods that has offered Pune with excellent restaurants like Punjab Grill, Fresc Co, Asia 7 and Zambar invited me for the Hyderabadi Food Festival at Zambar Pune, I couldn’t resist the offer. To refuse that offer will be like saying no to a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. Chef Arun made a special fly-down from Delhi and was all set to woo us food enthusiasts from Foodadda with his Hyderabadi cuisine creations.
Let me take a detour into the caves of trivia here. Hyderabadi cuisine, or Nawabi cuisine as they call it, is quite different from coastal cooking. It has a lot to do with the methods and combination of spices. While the Nawabs used tandoors for their kebabs and tikkas, coastal food is primarily cooked on a tawa. Amalgamating Nawabi cuisine to match and complement a coastal theme while packing a Zambar touch to the whole thing was definitely a challenge worth witnessing for myself. Chef Arun was ready with his knowledge and experience to produce delicacies that would suit the palates of Zambar’s many patrons.
The ambiance of Zambar Pune has the potential to teleport you to an ethnic houseboat. It is low-lit and cozy with wooden furniture and brass décor. It builds up a cant-refuse eating spirit, making you grow excited to dig into a wonderful coastal meal. Few decor settings can work this kind of magic.
The signature welcome drink took the form of a warm Rassam shot. It was indeed a perfect way to merge the modern and traditional, adding an original twist to a common South favorite. The rassam was flavorful and tasted perfect, retaining the singular heat it’s supposed to. This was followed by crunchy Pappadums, or Appalams, (one could get addicted to these) which you can munch on while waiting for the main course to be served.
Chef Arun stepped out of his kitchen with the intention to chat with us. He shared key information about the Hyderabadi Food Festival at Zambar Pune. It set the mood and the standard for the meal to come.
Zambar Pune – Meal Review
The lunch began with Alu Ke Garlay, which is traditional Aloo Vada with strong ginger and curry leaf flavor.
The Chicken Tikka was interesting but don’t be surprised if you find yourself mistaking for the authentic one made in the tandoor style. The difference is that Chef Arun had prepared this on a tawa. I couldn’t resist taking a second helping. It was yummy.
The Skihampuri Kebabs came next and brought with them a curious hung-curd filling. However, they were served cold which rendered a chewy meaty flavor to each bite. Though the flavors were good, we would have preferred this dish to come right off the tawa, hot and soft.
The main course included Mirch ka Salan and Nawabi Kofta Curry, which were good, nothing unique to say about them in particular.
The Achari Murgh was disappointing. It didn’t have that dash of pickle or tang such a dish can’t impress without. It was served with Malabar Parottas, which were decent but heavy.
The Hyderabadi Biryani packed a welcome fragrance that triggered my taste buds. The actual taste, however, was mild in comparison. It came nowhere close to a plate of Andhra or Hyderabadi Biryani. However, for people who prefer less spicy food, this dish is sure to come across as a winner.
Side-note 1: They happened to send a single appam to our table and despite ordering second portions we weren’t served any. A justifiable frown goes out to Zambar’s service.
Zambar Pune – Desserts Review
The desserts included Qubani ka Meetha that was more like runny apricot jam than anything else. It was overly sweet and not to my liking.
The Double ka Meetha was good but there was hardly any Rabdi on it, which is yet another ingredient-addition they minused from a dish that needed it. With a generous drizzle of rabdi, this dish could impress most guests. The bread was fried in oil, using ghee instead would render a richer taste to the dish.
The Last Word
This was merely a preview to the Hyderabadi Food Festival at Zambar Pune. I am positive Zambar has already considered suggestions from a diverse group of food bloggers and other enthusiasts who were a part of the review.
So go ahead, foodies, try something new and share your personal feedback in the comment section. It will be wonderful to read what others have to say about the interesting cuisine at Zambar Pune.