Baris – An Experiment With Authentic Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine
Turkish Restaurant in Greater Kailash II, New Delhi
A gem tucked away in the Masjid Moth, GK2 neighborhood market. While on our walk back from Jahanpanah forest we had noticed the unassuming board more than once and last Sunday when our lunch plans failed, we walked in casually at Baris. Escorted up a couple of floors in the elevator and ushered onto the rooftop we were pleasantly surprised to see the Arabic décor with arched mud colored walls interspersed with lattice work, mashaal lamps, palm trees in large pots and both cabana and regular seating.
Barış is a Turkish word meaning “peace” and peace with ourselves and the ambience we did feel during our relaxed two hours of dining. The presentation of the dishes was aesthetic with colors, garnishes, a bold splash or dusted unabashedly with paprika. We would start the course visually and then enjoy it as the distinctive yet not overpowering flavors pampered the palate.
We opted for their Sunday Brunch as it gave us an opportunity to savor various dishes and since we were very convincingly assured of being served freshly prepared dishes straight from the kitchen! True to their words, the meal kept coming in courses perfectly proportioned for sharing – not too less, not too much! We could relish each and every item with equal zest.
Baris’ cuisine supposedly is largely Turkish and eastern Mediterranean without European influences snooping in. However, a pizza from up north did find its way into the menu, the improvisation being that it was oval in shape! Ha, that is what we thought at first but nay, it had a different story.
We started with the mezze dips served with a large fluffy pita topped with sesame seeds. It was a nice assortment which appealed to us, specially the beetroot labneh, acili ezme and babbaganoush. The Yaprak Sarma – vine leaves with its filling of rice, black currant sauce, herbs, pinenuts cooked in lemon broth conjured an intriguing anticipation, such that perhaps more was required to romance the tastebuds.
Turkish dips have an emphasis of yoghurt, garlic and pinenuts. Talattouri is not as fiery as the name might suggest. The tangy and lemony ones are the Beetroot Labneh and Acili Ezme which we complemented with our other dishes as well.
Pide, Ispanar, Shish-Tavuk And Biryani
What followed the mezze was a boat shaped pizza and the server also called it that. But actually it was a Pide (pronounced pea-day), Turkish oval flat bread more crisp (made of a softer dough) than a pizza. The Turkish will insist that its origins are earlier than the Italian pizza’s. It has less cheese and instead of the Italian mozrella (of buffalo milk) is supposed to have peynir cheese (of sheep milk). But the one we had perhaps was with mozrella and feta cheese (of goat milk). We enjoyed the Pide.
All through the meal we paired the dishes with a nice red – a cabernet sauvignon from Luz Maria. However rather than travelling south west down to Chile it would have been nice if they had sourced from the wine regions of Turkey and kept the authenticity on. If the chef, Sahin Ibis could be from Istanbul why not the wine from Pamukkale, Izmir or Anatolia?
As the afternoon wore on we had some kebabs. Ispanar, a spinach snack served with pickles and cacik (a yoghurt cucumber dip) with flavors accented by herbs and spices.
Shish Tavuk – shish meaning skewer and tavuk the Turkish word for chicken – much like a milder version of our chicken tikkas. The kebabs combined together in vibrant chorus on a platter.
The main course was Turkish Biryani – plain rice and diced chicken cooked in mellow spices served with a sultry brown sauce (much like a barbeque sauce). The biryani offering from our fixed menu with its mild aroma and taste was not very impressive, rather a disappointment. The main menu has many exciting explanations, perhaps we should try a Mahmudiye next time – chicken thigh, apricot, raisins, almonds cooked in butter with cinnamon, honey lemon and chilli served with saffron pilaf.
We skipped the Chay (Turkish tea) and Ayran (much like our chhach we were told) and jumped over to the dessert. Figamisu (their take on the Italian tiramisu) had an interesting mix of flavors with savoiardi cookies layered with mascarpone cream, fig compote, Turkish coffee.
The Baklava Duo was overlaced with cinnamon syrup and a bit too sweet for our liking. A bite was all we took just to get a feel of the texture.
On our way out through their indoor dining area we met Sahin who we learnt called himself a traveler chef and had been to different countries exhibiting his culinary skills. A shoutout for Naveen as well who was serving us, we liked the subtle but accommodating service and his knowledge of the dishes.
We would certainly like to revisit Baris for a dinner under the stars with their subtle lighting and discover if the evening ambience accentuates the flavors while experimenting with other dishes from their extensive menu.