When Morning Glory leads you on to Thai food

A plant with bluish flowers gives much pleasure to my artistically inclined near and dear ones. It gives me great joy, too, but for different reasons. I am reminded of some excellent food that I had in Thailand, prepared with the leaves of the plant, called the Morning Glory. I had never had it in India before that, but I later learnt that its Indian cousin is cooked in various ways across the country. Still, something about the leaves will always remind me of the delicious food of Thailand.

So, when I heard that one of the best Thai restaurants in town was now delivering food – and had a dish of steamed fish with crispy morning glory on the menu — I was greatly tempted. The restaurant in the Sangam Courtyard complex is called Ziu, and I have had some great meals there. Now, in the period of the lockdown, it is delivering food across Delhi and Gurugram. Ziu’s food was always special, for it served what can be described as nouvelle Thai. There was a tweak to the dishes that greatly enhanced the taste – and the way it looked.

Slow cooked chicken in home-made Thai green sauce Pic Credit: Special Arrangement

Slow cooked chicken in home-made Thai green sauce Pic Credit: Special Arrangement  

I called up one of the numbers that had been forwarded to me (9958677731 and 011-26180711) and asked for Roasted Chicken Nutmeg Curry Paste and Coriander, served on rice (₹455); Slow Cooked Chicken with Mustard Cress and Thai Basil in Home-made Thai Green Sauce (₹725); Stir-fried Lamb in a Red Bird’s Eye Chilli and Crispy Holy Basil Sauce (₹825); and Wok Tossed Silken Tofu and Seasonal Vegetables in Roasted Sticky Rice Powder and Chilli Lime Sauce (₹625). My bill came to a little less than ₹3,100. And Ziu added (gratis) a dish of Som Tam to my order — crispy fried shredded green papaya served with freshly pounded roasted peanut, long green beans and spicy bird’s eye chilli with a lime dressing.

I had visited Ziu some years ago, and remember being completely floored by the food and the service. The young man behind the restaurant – Gurmehar Sethi – had earlier worked in places such as Nobu Dubai, Mayfair London and Banyan Tree in Thailand. I remember he had told me the word Ziu stood for cultivated. For the food, he explained, went beyond the usual.

I completely agree with him. Take his papaya salad. He has turned this dish around by crispy frying the shredded papaya. To this he adds roasted peanuts and a bird’s eye chilli-lime dressing. The dressing and the peanuts came in separate containers. We mixed it up—and the result was something that I could have made a full meal of.

The appetiser that we had asked for —Roasted Chicken Served on Crispy Rice Crackers — was superb. The rice, like murmura, had been turned into crunchy little bases, and the minced chicken was nice and spicy. I like green curries, so I enjoyed the chicken dish. The chicken had soaked in all the flavours of the Thai herbs in the curry, which was neither too runny, nor too thick. The lamb was out of this world. The meat was juicy, yet crispy, and the sauce was deliciously piquant. Though I am not much of a tofu fan (I thought we needed to order something non-meaty for a wholesome meal), I quite liked it, too. The tofu was soft and mild, and the sauces were strong. We didn’t ask for the fish with crispy morning glory, for folks at home are these days not as fond of fish as they were. Another time, perhaps.

In these dark days, places such as Ziu offer us a warm little beam of light. Jiyo, Ziu.

The writer is seasoned food critic

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