My mom was in town a couple of weeks ago, and there was no way I was letting her leave without trying the best desi food in town, by one of my favorite chefs, Himanshu Saini and his team. Carnival by Tresind had to happen, and as luck would have it, they had just launched Season 4: La la Land!
I was delighted to see upon our arrival that my favorite server there (also called Himanshu), had been promoted to Assistant Manager. Definitely well-deserved 🙂
I was also relieved to see that the forced, ridiculous welcome bubbles were no more. They were now replaced with a liquid nitrogen-spurting, towering plant. A better gimmick without doubt.
Because we went for a tasting, we did not get full portions, but instead got tasting portions of everything. Here’s what we had:
Amuse Bouche Platter. Classic Carnival By Tresind presentation: quirky and over the top and very exciting for the First Timers. We absolutely loved the Lassi bonbons, the savory puffed rice granola, and the pesto corriander brioche. The spicy crackers were underwhelming and the dhokla with gooseberry chutney was horrible. The dhokla was cold and wet and completely below Carnival by Tresin standards.
Butter Chicken Soup. I’m sure many people have had butter chicken and thought to themselves “man, I would love to slurp that in soup form”. Well, this was that dream come true. The intensity of chicken flavor in this tomato-based soup was perfectly balanced, the viscosity was on point, and the spice levels were well-rounded enough to be had in soup form. Served with the cutest little chicken tikka kulcha, this was an extremely enjoyable dish.
The next course wowed was called the Japanese Samosa, which is funny because neither was it Japanese nor was it a samosa, but it was absoutely freaking delicious. It was a puff pastry and tomato-based chickpea stew (called Cholay)
Last time I went to Carnival by Tresind, I absolutely loved the Makki ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag (mustard greens and corn bread). This time, we were served the same, but with a different presentation. Although visually much more appealing, the flavors missed the marks that the previous (more authentic interpretation) tasted better. I found this canapé version to have too many pickles, and they took away from the earthy flavor that is the unique beauty of mustard greens.
My mom and I don’t eat lamb, but “The Jungle Book”, which was braised leg of lamb, marinated in Indian spices and skewered, went down with quite easily. Served with a wild herb essence smoke, and chili threads, this was a classic example of the exquisiteness one can expect from Chef Himanshu Saini and his team.
When I told my mom we are going to Carnival By Tresind, I suggested we all skip breakfast, because there is simply no way to NOT overeat over here. She rolled her eyes and just didn’t get it- until we were halfway through this meal. Haha! By now we were pretty full, but as always, the food was so insanely delicious, that it felt like a crime to stop. The next course, called Finding Dory was (surprise, surprise) fried dory in a light, crispy batter, topped with a crunchy salsa. This might have been one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had.
Next came the palate cleanser, and the color drained from all our faces a bit when we realized that we were only just done with the appetizers, and we hadn’t worn our stretch pants but the mains were yet to come. The palate cleanser was a refreshing Granny Smith and lemongrass sorbet, served inside a hollowed-out apple. My only concern is what happens to the perfectly good, slightly hollowed out apple later? I most certainly hope it’s not added to the “food waste” pile.
One can’t quite have the full Carnival by Tresind experience until they have one of their liquid nitrogen spurting drinks, so we requested a not-so-sweet mocktail, and the elderflower-lemongrass concoction they conjured up did not disappoint.
The first main course made my heart sink upon description, which was quickly resurrected upon the first bite. The Quinoa Biryani sounded like another drab attempt to satisfy a millennial trend, but not only were the flavors all there, the texture made it as well. You see, they had mixed in some crispy fried quinoa into the quinoa cooked in biryani spices, so that really gave it the texture and bite one would normally crave when eating rice. This faux biryani was exceptionally toothsome.
I’ve noticed a pattern in the tastings at Carnival by Tresind (other than how they’re lipsmackingly delicious)- the mains always have a vegetarian option, a carnivorous option, and a South Indian option. YES to all the coconut milk and steamed rice flour breads. And a big YES to this beef stew with appam.
Then came the dessert. We wanted to skip dessert altogether, but – just as I had warned my mother- you’re made to feel like you’re at your grandma’s house when you’re at Carnival By Tresind. Translation: you are fed till you’re ready to explode. In hindsight, I’m glad that they do what they do at Carnival By Tresind because (a) every bite is one to savour at Carnival By Tresind and (b) the first dessert they brought out, The DIY (which is intended for kids, mainly), was an absolute riot at our table. My mom did the DIY part, following the instructions on the recipe card, to make us our very own Rabri Tiramisu, and it was such a fun and memorable experience that was worth the world to me.
Gaajar Ka Halwa. This one excited my mom and M the most (full disclosure: as much as I love Indian/Pakistani food, I like my desserts to be French). I do have to give them props for the prettiest, classiest presentation of Gaajar Ka Halwa I’ve ever seen, with pistachip paste and dehydrated carrot powder. Simply stunning.
The final dessert we tried was one we sort of regretted trying. It wasn’t particularly bad, but I think we were obscenely stuffed (this is what happens when you hate wasting food), but this mock pear stuffed with cream cheese mousse, sat on a balushai base and orange cinnamon tea. The presentation was lovely.
My mom has very picky tastebuds. Mediocre food simply does not cut it in her books and she is not easy to please. Suffice to say, she was completely blown away by Carnival by Tresind Season 4. No surprises there, really, the meal delivered on every aspect, exactly as I expected it would, and the consistency and reliability elements both checked out. She was seen off with a rose, each, which is the perfect ending to a meal appropriately dubbed La La Land. I almost wish that I had scheduled her birthday meal over here rather than at Tresind, because this was quite easily the best meal of her trip. Thank you, Himanshu Saini, Kevin, Fasiha and Team. You guys are simply the best.