New York, June 5
Indian restaurateur and Michelin-star chef Hemant Mathur and his wife Surbhi Sahni, prominent names in New York City's fine dining scene, are now bringing an Indian bistro experience to food connoisseurs here, offering authentic cuisine from their homeland, with special focus on preparing dishes exactly as they are prepared at home.
SAAR Indian Bistro, a 57-seat restaurant and bar, opened near Times Square this month and offers traditional home cooked and Indian street foods, prepared to reflect the essence of India's broad multicultural influences, including elements from British, Persian and Jewish cuisine.
“We felt there is a need in the market for an Indian bistro. People want to eat Indian food that is not only authentic but also tastes like home-cooked food,” Sahni, Pastry Chef and Creative Director, told PTI.
“Our goal is to show how food has evolved in India over the past 100 years, serving the dishes exactly as they are prepared and eaten at home today,” she said.
“The more I stayed here, the more I appreciated my own food. It comes from reminiscing what we ate, from appreciating the ingredients and our own food and cuisine. Indian food is so rich and beautiful by itself, why do I need to change it. We are keeping our dishes in touch with our roots, with what we eat in our homes, the food we eat when we go back to India,” she said.
Mathur is the first Indian chef in the US to be awarded a Michelin star and he retained this prestigious award at two New York City restaurants - Devi and Tulsi.
In 2004, Mathur teamed up with chef Suvir Saran and opened Devi, which under his lead, became the country's first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in 2007.
In 2010, he opened Tulsi, on Manhattan's East side, which also received Michelin-star rating. Most recently in 2015, he became both the Executive Chef and co-owner of six Indian eateries in New York City – Chola, Kokum, Chote Nawab, Dhaba, Malai Marke and Haldi.
Sahni was the highly acclaimed pastry chef at Michelin-starred Tulsi and has an 18-year experience of working in various New York restaurants. Currently, she is focused on launching an Indian gift package company.
SAAR offers dinner service and will eventually be open for lunch, high tea and brunch as well.
The menu includes items such as a savory ‘Shakarkandi Chaat' – Charcoal smoked Japanese sweet potato with tamarind chutney and roasted cumin; Kashmiri Kabargah – Milk poached crispy New Zealand lamb ribs with onion, red pepper and radish.
Another popular dish in the bistro is the Kashmiri Gucchi Risotto, which is a spin-off of the Italian risotto using basmati rice.
Sahni added that the concept behind SAAR was to put together a casual bistro offering high-end dining experience at an attractive price range so that diners visit the restaurant more frequently.
“I feel that when you start doing a very high-end Indian space, people don't want to go back to it all the time. So we created an Indian Bistro offering authentic Indian food where people would want to come back," she said.
SAAR is a space for the “well-travelled and global citizens” who have tasted Indian cuisine whether through friends or trips to India.
On what makes SAAR unique in a city that is peppered with restaurants offering Indian cuisine, Sahni said apart from the fact that it is a bistro, “we are keeping very authentic and very clean flavors.
"Even though this is a restaurant, it's almost as if you came into my home and ate with me. This is how I see our place being unique." PTI
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