Atta Turks! A chef from Istanbul and a Sanjay Leela Bhansali set come together in South Delhi. ♦
Turkish and Hindi have many words in common: for example, duniya, divana, badam, and bulbul. The name of Masjid Moth’s newest kid on the block, pronounced baarish, sounds familiar, however means, not “rain,” but “peaceful.” Bariş’ “Inspired Mediterranean Dining” is brought to Delhi by Turkish chef Sahin Ibis, whose itinerant career has taken him from Istanbul to Egypt, to Georgia (the American one), and North Carolina.
What this means is a menu that includes, but goes beyond, the typical hot and cold mezze platters, hummus, and falafel. Curious about dishes that include peynir and kofte and kiyma, we head to the promised oasis in the hopes of discovering something totally new. What we find is a lot of same-same-but-different.
Gold is Old
We’re greeted at the door by the manager, a familiar face from Market Café, who goes above and beyond to make sure we’re well taken care of. Passing through the main dining room—which looks like a Sanjay Leela Bhansali set for a retelling of the 1,001 Nights with its tiles, arches, and oversize golden urn, out of which a genii could emerge at any moment to do an item number—we head for a breezy upstairs terrace. At the table next to ours, another familiar face, Cyrus Sahukar, is having a lads’ hookah evening. We discover that Baris’ owners are the guys behind Raasta and Tarami.
The food too, feels like a professional cover version of Turkish cuisine.
A Moroccan Mystery mocktail helps us settle into our intricate jaali-woven seats (plastic but pretty), its pomegranate sweet-and-sourness swirling with kalaa namak in a way not unpleasantly reminiscent of the anaar kulfi available in old Delhi this time of year. A complimentary trio of dips with crisp breads also appears. Our favourite thing so far, however, is the soundtrack: a compilation of sometimes peppy, sometimes melodramatic professional covers of everything from “Paparazzi” to “Paper Planes”, and “In the End” to “Zombie”.
The Mezze Path
The food too, feels like a professional cover version of Turkish cuisine. We start with the shefin salatsi (chef’s salad), but find its arugula, goat cheese, and sautéed lamb overwhelmed by the strips of cucumber they are rolled up in. Yaprak sarma, rolls of “wine” (grape vine) leaves stuffed with rice fare better, with their lemony tang and soft texture.
We try the first of two kababs—Urfa and Adana—named for the home cities of the peppers they feature. The ground lamb kababs are good, but do not transcend to memorable, and we wish the flatbread beneath them wasn’t chopped up into instagrammatically correct strips. This is Turkish street food plated as haute cuisine, but without a requisite taste twist to justify the elevation. (The only taste tweak at Bariş is an admitted concession to the stronger spice preference of the Indian palate.)
In our mains, the over-emphasis on plating leads to a bit of a mishmash of what might otherwise have been excellent flavours. We resist the lamb shank dish—the menu’s most expensive, and most reviewed—and instead dig in to kibrit kebabi, well-done silvers of buff served with a tart yogurt sauce. Mahmudiye, a chicken dish with royal Ottoman provenance provides a fruity contrast, with raisins, almonds, and apricots in a cinnamon-honey sauce. Sometimes mixed in with orzo, this version is served deconstructed, with saffron rice on the side; and the dried fruits seem completely subsumed into the sauce.
We skip across to Spain for a dessert of pumpkin Catalana, and couldn’t wish for a sendoff Moor sweet than this love child of crema Catalana (similar to a crème brûlée) and pumpkin pie. While Bariş isn’t exactly our cup of çay, it bridges South Delhi and Sultanahmet just as ably as Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus—a gateway getaway to another cuisine.
Getting there: Bariş, Building 3, Local Shopping Complex, Masjid Moth, Greater Kailash-II.
This story was originally published on Brown Paper Bag.