Walk into any Indian restaurant and you’re sure to be overwhelmed by the aroma of spices and flavours that emanate from the kitchen. Being one of the most dynamic cuisines worldwide, bringing together food cultures, dining traditions and regional produce from across India’s states onto one restaurant menu is a herculean task. But Ssaffron, the signature Indian restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru manages this pretty well.
As you exit the lift on the 18th floor of Shangri-La, you are captivated by the sheer lavishness of the surroundings. A short walk on the corridor gets you to Ssaffron, which dazzles with rich wood, ornate carvings, free-standing metallic sandstone sculptures and jharoka-style partitions which are typical in traditional homes in Northern India. Full-length windows bestow an expansive view of the city’s prominent landmarks such as UB City, Vidhana Soudha and the Golf Course. With an al fresco section that overlooks the green lung of Cubbon Park, Ssaffron is the venue to relax with an array of freshly cooked delights.
Concept & Menu
Focused around the cuisines from the royal states of Rajasthan, Punjab and Hyderabad with a sprinkle of influence from the coastal regions of Kerala, Goa and Karnataka; Ssaffron presents authentic Indian food with a generous coating of ghee, cream, cottage cheese and yoghurt. The team levies equal focus around vegetarian dishes, appetizers and mains from the tandoor, and the usage of herbs like mint, lemongrass and carom leaves which are grown in the property’s cutesy home garden. The Executive Chef of the property, Gagandeep Sawhney reveals they are looking to grow a lot more herbs and spices that can be used in their Indian and Italian cooking.
Crockery & Cutlery
Indian food has traditionally been cooked in copper utensils, as copper is said to detoxify the body, improve metabolism and haemoglobin, and aid in digestion. Ssaffron uses copper utensils to cook some of the fare and to serve guests as well. The Indian theme runs through the serving plates with the motif of an elephant, an animal dear to Indian ethos embossed across. Moreover, the attention-to-detail in the setup is accentuated by small silver elephant motifs on wooden girdles that hold the napkins.
It’s no cakewalk to drive eight restaurants, bars, banqueting and in-room dining in an upscale property the size and scale of Shangri-La. But Sawhney manages it all with a smile. With over 16 years of experience across brands in the Maldives, Thailand, Switzerland, UAE and at Michelin-starred restaurants, Chef is a veteran of traditional and progressive Asian and Italian cuisines and brings in influences and inspirations from across the globe in his cooking.
Pickles and chutneys are the very first condiments to grace an Indian thali or the banana leaf during a customary lunch. Their spicy and tangy flavours prepare the palate for the multiple courses that follow. At Ssaffron, the team serves a set of 6 chutneys and pickles in mini copper bowls. What’s intriguing is that alongside the ubiquitous mint and tamarind chutneys, they pride themselves in serving fruit chutneys made from grapes, plums, pears and apples, as well as one made from beetroots.
Chef Sawhney says the aim is to give a unique experience before the start of the meal. Fruit chutneys are Chef’s favourite and he cooks fruits with a little vinegar till soft and mushy and then flavours them with black salt and powdered roasted cumin to cut out the natural sweetness and infuse elements of spice. You’ve got to taste the fruit chutneys for sure. We ate them with crunchy pappadoms and the velvety soft palak mewa ki tikki, which was spinach stuffed with yoghurt and spices and cooked on the griddle. The sweet and tangy chutneys complemented the creaminess of the tikki, leaving behind a soothing mouth feel.
For mains, the super spicy Allepey fish curry that was ordered toned out when paired with steamed long-grain rice. The seer fish was cooked to perfection and made for a wholesome course. What leaves you astonished is the desserts section of the menu. Chef Sawhney has brought to the forefront quintessential Indian ingredients like betel nut (supari), fennel seeds and curry leaves by muddling them and creating gelatos that leave a refreshing aftertaste! One of the most exciting desserts is the jalebi made from juicy apples and served with rabri gelato, Chef’s signature creation.
The apples balance the sweetness of the sugar syrup in which the jalebi is soaked and their crunchiness on being fried gives a good contrast to the chilled, creamy gelato!
The congeniality of the staff notwithstanding, service at Ssaffron is slow. The chefs prepare everything fresh and fresh food does take time to be prepared. Reserve atleast a few hours to relax and enjoy a laidback meal.