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From Athens to Beirut, all in a platter...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 - 11:55am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

Warm breeze, turquoise waters and a platter full of Mediterranean’s finest entrees is something hardly anyone can resist. Seasonal Tastes' Mediterranean Nights at the Westin offers exactly that 

Light, colourful and garnished just right, the mezze platter is a treat to the curious and a surprise to the seasoned. Served with a variety of pita bread, Chef Prasad laid out a lavish spread of cold cuts and Mediterranean dips that not only looked delicious but tasted equally fantastic. The spread was a mix from regions of Greece, Cypress, Lebanon right up to the nomadic cuisine of Arabia.

Although traditionally, a mezze platter includes hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives, stuffed grape leaves and so on, it changes from region to region. At Seasonal Tastes, among aromas and palates of exotic looking spreads was hummus – which also happens be a personal favourite and popular all across the Middle East but what really titillated my tastebuds was the Hummus Beruity, a traditional derivative of hummus from Beirut, Lebanon with onion, tomatoes, parsley and spiced chick peas. Hummus Turki, a third variety of hummus followed second which comes from Istanbul, and is blended with spicy olives and olive oil. Another item with a twist were balls of feta, served in triplets and each one flavoured differently that tasted just as delightful with bread as without.

Flavoured Feta balls

Bright red and grainy Kishir, a Turkish cracked wheat salad with chilli, tomatoes and grape molasses is the perfect companion to have with the soft and fresh pita bread. For the more the experimental, the traditional pickled salad of octopus and sun-dried tomatoes from the coasts of Cyprus touted to be the perfect appetisers to begin the gastronomic journey into the Mediterranean. However, the havuc tarator, smoked carrot dip blended with some sesame paste and yogurt trumps every other dip on the platter with its light sweetness and buttery texture.
An assortment of traditional pita served in triplets of plain, herbs and chili, surprisingly complements a majority of the dips. To add to the extravagant spread, these dips also pair up well with the crunchy Iranian lavash or the soft focaccia.

Mezze being the star of the night, moussaka, baked layered aubergine and cheese and tomatoes added a tangy and spicy element to the meal. I relished it with an accompaniment of Sabnikh fatayer, a pastry filled with spinach and pine nuts and pan fried fish marinated with ginger and garlic. 
Among the desserts, Omali, the baked puff with a generous topping of condensed milk from Egypt, clearly stands out; rich and warm it melts in the mouth.
For those who like a little spirit with their meal and are daring to try a new flavour, the traditional Arak is a definite must-try. This fennel-flavoured drink from the valley of El Massaya in Lebanon is a beautiful misty concoction of liquid aromas served over ice.

Go here for a perfect meal for an early start to the weekend!

Our recommendations for a the mezze

Hummus Beruity - Traditional derivative of hummus from Beirut, Lebanon with onion, tomatoes, parsley & spiced chick peas

Kishir - Turkish cracked wheat salad with chili paste, tomatoes, parsley, onion, olive oil & grape molasses

Havuc tarator - Smoked Carrot dip blended with sesame paste, yogurt, garlic, lemon, olive oil from Istanbul

Lahm bil bayd - Lamb & egg salad with garlic sauce

Sabnikh fatayer - Spinach & pine nuts baked pastries from Syria

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