“Why Friday?” was one of my first questions, after I heard about Pluck's 'Arabic Nights' Buffet that is to be hosted on every Friday night at the five-star property. “Because it is on Friday nights that you truly want to indulge, on Saturdays you just want to get sloshed,” came a convincing reply. 

We do want to hog on Fridays and a buffet eliminates the whole stress of choosing the ‘right dish’. The exquisite buffet (priced at INR1800++ per person) at The Farmers Basket, Pluck is an homage to the Middle-Eastern cuisine. Usual suspects like hummus, shawarma, kibdeh and shakshouka impress, but we were quite taken aback by the range of options in the buffet that will go so well with the contemporary-Indian palate. Starting with the Manakish, which looks like a wood-fired oven pizza. The bread was topped with ground meat, thyme and cheese. Make sure you have it hot and fresh. 

We were also served a portion of Anadana Kebab, which looked like a Turkish cousin of Seekh Kebab, it was served with Saj bread, a type of Rumali roti from the middle east, some sliced onions and mint, yogurt dip. Everything about this dish works, from the meat to spice ratio, to the mint, yogurt dip undercutting the heaviness, and pairing it with Saj bread is perhaps the best way to have it. We, for sure,are not having Anadana Kebab any other way from now on.  

When we got up for a second refill of Muhammara dip and not the hummus, we knew we are in for something special. For the unversed, Muhammara is a Turkish, savoury, roasted red pepper dip. The pounded nuts add an astounding richness to the dip. You can pair it with the Sambusak (yes, the supposed, keema-filled precursor of samosas), falafels and kibbeh.  

The Baharat Spiced roast chicken, a flavourful spit-roasted chicken served with the side of sumac spiced salad and pomegranate molasses sauce is another highlight of the menu, the Turkish Manti, which may appear like ravioli to some and dumpling to other, also stands out. It is essentially boiled dumplings filled with lamb or mushroom, topped with creamy yogurt sauce and spices.

If you fancy Biryani on Friday night (relatable), you must go for the Lamb Mansaf. While it is not exactly biryani, it will satiate your cravings for sure. Here the lamb is braised in yogurt and spices before it is assembled with rice, which lends a whole another level of texture and flavour to the rice.  

With a hilarious stint with the Turkish ice cream, we proceeded towards the dessert section comprising an assortment of Turkish and Arabic desserts. The Baklava is truly out of the world and the Kunafa Bel Jibna, a flaky sweet pastry with vermicelli coating serves is worth reserving some room for.  

In fact, we also dug out the recipe of the Adana Kebab and Lamb Mansaf from Pluck, Pullman Hotel, Aeocity, New Delhi. Try making it at home and see if you could recreate the same magic.  

(L) Lamb Mansaf , (R) Adana Kebab

Making Lamb Mansaf

Ingredients

For the Meat

  • Lamb Meat cut into chunks (including bones) – 400gm
  • Water – 6 Cups
  • Cloves whole – 3gm
  • Green Cardamom pods – 4gm
  • Cinnamon Stick – 2gm
  • Allspice berries – 1gm
  • Bay Leaf – 2

For the Rice

  • Rice – 150gm
  • Water – 3cups
  • Salt – To Taste
  • Saffron – 0.5gm

For the Laban Sauce

  • 1 Laban Jameed (Alternative Yogurt Powder) – 250gm
  • Water – 1cups

For the Bread Base

  • Shrak or Saj Bread – 6no.

For the Topping

  • Almonds blanched and Cut ¼ - 200gm
  • Parsley chopped – 6gm

Method

For the Meat

  • Take a vessel, put the lamb and add 6 cups of water, bring to a boil and add whole spices.
  • Once the water is boiled, turn down to a slow simmer.
  • Now cook the meat for 2 hours or until it is tender. You can add more boiling water if it is necessary.
  • After the meat is done, you can pour it through a sieve and preserve the water. Now, set the meat aside on a plate for later.

For the Laban Sauce

  • Take one cup of water and whisk in yogurt powder, until it completely dissolves.
  • Now take this above mixture into a bowl through a sieve, set it aside.
  • Take the stained yogurt mixture add it to the meat water, and place it on heat. Bring to a boil.
  • Take out the lamb chunks (leaving out the spices) and add it to the sauce.

For the Rice

  • To make the rice, you would require a pot, place soaked rice, add 3 cups water, 1½ tsp salt and a pinch of saffron.
  • Let it come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, then cook until all the water has reduced.

Assembling

  • Take some olive oil in a frying pan and toast your almonds.
  • Tear the Saj bread into little pieces and lay it down on a plate for your meal.
  • Add some of the sauce over the bread.
  • Then spread some rice over the bread
  • Then ladle some more sauce over the rice
  • Place the lamb on top of the rice
  • Then pour some more sauce
  • Sprinkle roasted almonds and parsley over the dish


Making Adana Kebab

Ingredients

  • Lamb Cubes, minced with a mincing knife – 400gm 
  • Lamb Kidney fat, minced with mincing knife – 80gm 
  • Chilli peppers, seeded – 50gm 
  • Salt - To Taste
  • Black Pepper Powder – 5gm 
  • Roasted Cumin Powder – 5gm 
  • Smoked Paprika Powder – 5gm 
  • Aleppo Pepper Powder – 10gm 
  • Tomatoes (By Side) – 100gm 
  • Banana Peppers (By Side) – 100gm 
  • Saj Bread (By Side) – 5no. 
  • Haydari ( Minty Yogurt Dip By Side) – 100gm 

Method: 

1. With the help of mincing knife, combine kidney fat cubes and lamb meat cubes. It should take about 30 minutes for the whole mixture to come together. The whole mixture should appear like ground meat, and post this you can start working on the kebab.

2. Mix in Aleppo pepper powder, chilli pepper, cumin, black pepper powder, smoked paprika and salt. Use the knife again to mix all the spices and the meat together. It should take about 10 minutes. 

3.Place the kebab meat on the skewers, you can use water to prevent the kebab from sticking to your hand.

4. Place the kebabs on charcoal grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. 

5. Serve hot over Saj bread, with roasted tomato, peppers and mint, yogurt dip.