When you have a family that eats only at vegetarian places, you’d know the pain of finding good places to dine at. Pune has a negligible number of vegetarian restaurants in the fine-dining space. And that’s where Panayaa comes in. It’s a fairly new restaurant situated at Kalyaninagar and is already getting quite popular.
Their interiors are both warm and elegant. They have a private section apart from the main dining area which is great for large family dinners or kitty parties.
While Panayaa has stuck to popular Punjabi delicacies for the mains, it’s the appetizers where they’ve truly innovated. The underlying theme is Indian, but with a twist. The cuisine is described as Modern Indian, which is quite right.
Let’s begin with my top 5 picks at Panayaa.
1. Corn Bhel Maze Cornetto
The presentation of this dish is simply amazing. Cheese filled crispy cones stand tall in a glass bowl filled with Jhaal-muri (murmura). The flavors were bang on! Definitely a dish that everyone will enjoy. (Secret tip – Ask for a bit of salsa to go with this)
2. Khaman Oxide
Spicy, sweet, sour, salty and packed with flavors and textures – that’s how the Khaman Oxide at Panayaa was.
Each bite had the perfect amalgamation of the khaman, papdi, sev and the various chutneys and that’s how I ended up polishing off half the plate all by myself in spite of dining at a table of 4.
Right at the table, the dish gets a heavy dose of nitrogen gas to make it chilled n crunchy. Now who doesn’t love some drama?
3. Dal Fry
This was your typical dhaba style Dal fry, heavy on spice and packed with flavour. Absolutely loved it.
4. Chocolate Landscape
This dessert is quite dramatic, and the magic happens right at your table. This huge tray arrives with plenty of elements and one-by-one each of them plays a role to craft a beautiful dessert. All of the simple elements such as brownie, chocolate sponge, salted caramel sauce, chocolate ganache, crushed oreo and a couple of other elements are finally topped with some liquid nitrogen ice-cream to create into a medley of flavor and textures. Again a crowd pleaser, and big enough for 6 to share.
5. Mohanthal Cheesecake
Cheesecake is already rich and when you add a base of mohanthal, it only gets richer. The raspberry compote on top was just perfect to cut through the richness. This dessert may not appeal to everyone, but for me, it rocked.
The rest of the dishes:
The Hara Bhara Kumbh fared well, and so did the soups (Palak Shorba and Parmesan Veloute).
The Carrot Basil Kebab hardly packed a punch and the Cottage Cheese Indiana wasn’t well marinated and lacked flavor.
The Chana Masala Wanton Chaat had all the right elements and was delightful. Just don’t forget to ask for an extra dose of chutneys, since Panayaa tends to make it somewhat mild.
As for the main course, we tried the Thecha Hariyali (a mixed veg curry) and Panayaa-e-khaas, both of which were excellent.
The Makhani Biryani, albeit very tasty wasn’t really a biryani at all. Do not expect the mild, creamier curries that you tend to eat at other fine-dining restaurants. Panayaa makes them spicy and robust – like we Indians have always been used to.
Overall Verdict – Panayaa is your perfect fit for an Indian fine-dine restaurant. The ambience, the hospitality and the food are all on point.
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*Disclaimer – This meal was hosted by the restaurant.