Marrakesh brings to mind belly dancers, tagines and of course Casablanca, but I am talking about the Marrakesh restaurants in Pune famous for their Lebanese food.
They have plenty of outlets in the city, but when I was invited for a menu tasting, I chose the one in Undri. Slightly away from the hustle bustle, this turned out to be a spacious, airy location. The place is on your right just before the turn to the Corinthian Club.
Wait staff seemed a bit clueless and uncertain, but all doubts vanished when a plate of hummus was placed in front of me. Sprinkled with some paprika (or sumac?) and with fluffy Pita bread on the side, it raised my hopes. And as I scooped up the creamy hummus with a piece of bread, I was reassured. A balanced blend of chickpeas and tahini, a hint of garlic, and a coating of good olive oil signaled a well made hummus.
The menu at Marrakesh has a few Lebanese style dishes and then a lot of Indian ones. The choices are narrow for vegetarians, but I was looking forward to them. I was certainly not there to eat Indian food.
The Garlic Hummus with Olive and Pita Bread started me off well, as you have already read. Batata Harrah was smashed and fried potatoes smothered in a green mint based sauce. This was alright but not that remarkable. Mouttabal with Zatar Naan was another surprise.
The Mouttabal is generally coarsely pulsed eggplant where you can see the eggplant. This dish was a smooth puree with a very delicate flavor of eggplant, very close to a Baba Ghanoush.
They have a big variety of breads, and the Zatar Naan stands out. The non vegetarians have options of meat stuffed parathas or Naans. The garlic naan, cheese naan and the rotis provide a lot of choice in the bread department.
And now to Shawarma. I know you must all be eager to talk about it. Can there really be a veggie shawarma? I know purists will scoff at a paneer shawarma. Does it even go on a rotisserie? I don’t know. But the Paneer Shawarma at Marrakesh hit the spot. It is generously portioned and you can easily make a meal out of it. Served with some pickled veggies, I just fell in love with this. Seasoned and char grilled paneer, tahini, hummus, garlic sauce, yogurt, salad veggies – all wrapped in a thick, fluffy, pita bread. This is the one dish to try at Marrakesh.
The Open Face Falafel was again a surprise. This is like a cocktail or salad, the way it is served. Falafel is crumbled and combined with creamy elements and plated up in a pretty way so you can eat it with a fork. Pickles and bread are served on the side.
And now to desserts! Unfortunately, they were out of the Baklava, but I got to taste the Malai Phirnee. Flavored with rose, the creamy phirnee was served in an earthen pot giving it a rustic look.
A note before I go – although I did not go for the Indian food, the menu has a wide array of it, both veggie and nonveg. The non vegetarian section of course has a lot of variety. This is good news for families since everyone will be able to order something they like.
Overall, I am impressed by the food at Marrakesh and I will definitely be going back or ordering in from here.