Review- Lebanese Food Festival at Sofitel Mumbai BKC with Chef Maher Omran

I almost gasped as I stepped out of the airport. Beautiful mountains surrounded me and the crisp air promised me a fantastic time ahead. I was on a business trip to Beirut, the beauty of which has to be experienced by everyone at least once. Yes, my mom was flipping out and I was skeptical too but my visit in 2009 was uneventful and peaceful. I spent three days watching beautiful women belly dance with unbelievable grace, laughter mingling on tables filled with delicious and copious amounts of food, drinking arak and soaking in the beauty marred with signs of war and eating hearty breakfasts, big lunches and even heavier dinners. Often seen as a blend of Europe​​an and Middle Eastern cooking, Lebanese cuisine is globally appreciated and includes abundance of starches, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh fish and grilled meats and is truly a feast for the senses. Travelling to Beirut is not on our cards for a while now but the next best thing we do is to indulge in the cuisine whenever we want to reminiscence the wonderful time we had there.

So when Sofitel invited us to experience Chef Maher Omran’s unique gastronomy style in Lebanese cuisine we just couldn’t resist. Drawing inspiration from both Lebanese & Syrian cooking, Chef Maher’s expertise is well known, we just had to sit back and savor it to believe it. And did we end up having a good time? Ah, read a little more to know.

Chef Maher Omran at Pondicherry Cafe, Sofitel BKC

We stepped in to the Pondicherry café and walked across a beautifully set Arabic tea counter on the right when a strange thing happened. 

The Beautiful Entrance at Pondicherry Cafe, Sofitel BKC
The aroma of falafel made us recall the amazing street food we had enjoyed while walking the busy streets of downtown Beirut, a while ago. 

The Shawarma Counter at Pondicherry Cafe, Sofitel BKC
We quickly ordered hot falafel- a Middle Eastern dish made with mashed chickpeas, shaped into fritters, deep-fried and served with pita bread and shawarma- shavings of chicken grilled on a vertical rotating spit, rolled in a flat bread with toppings and served with hummus or tahini (creamy Middle Eastern dips). A fantastic start!!!

The “Mezzah” section had a selection of hot and cold small appetizers, which is a good way to wet ones appetite before settling down for a large meal. Served in traditional tagine pots the mezzah spread looked beautiful. We tried Bamieh bel ziat – perfectly cooked okra in tomato coriander sauce, a healthy and delicious dish and a variety of salads like Fattoush (a flavorful salad made with toasted pita bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, mint and lemon juice), Baba Ghannouj- a delectable eggplant dip and Hummus- chickpea, garlic and olive oil dip. All the dishes tasted fresh, authentic and flavorsome and we loved the hummus!!

Fresh Lebanese Salads at Pondicherry Cafe, Sofitel BKC
From the hot mezzah section we tried the non-vegetarian Manakish Zatar – a dish made of flatbread with a topping of mixed herbs, minced lamb and cheese and baked briefly in the oven- a must try.
Lamb Manakish Zatar- Middle Eastern Pizza 

The main course was a meat lovers delight with only a few vegetarian dishes including ones made with couscous and of Moroccan influence rather than Middle Eastern as the later has hardly any vegetarian dishes. We tried Batata Bel Synia - oven cooked potato tomato and onion olive oil, Samak sayadia - pan seared fish with caramelized onion rice and pine nuts and Seafood and Jambari mujbous-  marinated shrimp and rice with herbs, dry lemon, cardamom. The dishes were aromatic fresh flavours of herbs

Even before we had relished the main course, we had stolen a customary glance at the dessert spread. We headed there with happy feet and tried Oumali- Arabic bread pudding made with pastry, cream and nuts. 

Oumali- Arabic bread pudding at Sofitel, BKC.

A bowl of Oumali is enough to bring happy memories back in a rush. A Wicked Spoon Confessions must try. Next, the baklava- filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey was so tasty we had it in seconds. 

                                  Baklava at Lebanese Festival at Sofitel BKC
Muhallabia- rose water and vanilla flavored condensed milk pudding ended our gastronomic journey on a very high note.


If you love fresh, healthy and aromatic flavors of the Middle Eastern Cuisine and food that is light and sprinkled with fresh herbs, do try the festival at Sofitel. The tender bits of chicken in shawarma or the pizza of the middle east- Lamb Manakish, the versatile hummus and delectable desserts will take you on a gastronomic journey that you will not forget soon. Do enjoy some Arabic tea before you wind up, just like we did.

What You pay for a Meal for Two- Inr 3000/- plus taxes

On Till- May 10th 2015

Pondicherry Café,
C 57, Bandra Kurla Complex,
Bandra East,

Call# 022 6117 5000


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