November 6, 2021
This fusion of an American pot pie and little-known Khumb (button mushrooms) side dishes contains a three-mushroom medley of chanterelles, shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms, all baked in a creamy tomato sauce, known as lababdar. The pie is encased in a pastry and the filling also features green peas.
This dish was one of the standouts of the night. As the server punctured through the dish’s buttery pastry, the delicious aroma of the steamy mushroom filling dominated the table. The filling’s velvety lababdar gravy had a perfect balance of spice and umami; unfortunately, though, it covered up the difference in flavor between the types of mushroom. The addition of baked green peas was reminiscent of American pot pie, but added a welcome freshness and contrast to the dish. The flaky pastry covering the dish was paired delightfully with the filling, adding another layer of butteriness and texture, but the mushroom-to-pastry ratio was rather high. That said, the mushroom filling paired wonderfully with naan, adding versatility to this already phenomenal dish. While this dish’s South Asian roots were not immediately obvious, the rich mushroom medley is a staple side dish recipe, and we couldn’t help but rave about Dum Khumb with every bite.
I’m Not Pasta
I’m Not Pasta reimagines saag paneer, a classic Indian dish made with spinach and a fresh cheese called paneer, as a lasagne. The square layers of spinach and cheese are surrounded by a tomato-based sauce, seasoned with garlic and traditional fenugreek leaves.
This lasagne was disappointing. After learning this was the dish that Tyagi won “Beat Bobby Flay” with and hearing friends’ glowing reviews, we came in with high expectations. The word “lasagne” and this dish only seem to be tangentially related by the structural components of the layers. The paneer, a pasta substitute, was baked to aesthetic perfection with a crunchy golden layer of bubbles covering the top of the lasagne, but the cheese’s unusually rubbery texture coupled with its uneventful combination with the spinach made this one of the most mediocre dishes of the meal. The sauce, which packed most of the flavor in this dish, was absent between the layers themselves, making the lasagne incredibly dry and lacking in flavor. Unfortunately, the one dimensional flavors and texture left us wondering what made this the supposed standout Aurum dish.
Only At Aurum
“Only at Aurum” is Tyagi’s take on bihari pithi pockets, featuring pickled potatoes, yellow lentils and chili flakes. The spicy potato filling is wrapped in a chewy yet crispy whole wheat dough dough, and surrounded by a lentil sauce.
Only at Aurum is one of the few dishes in our selection that was actually spicy, and we adored the unexpected punch of chili bursting from its potato samosa-like inside. However, the five small pockets are overwhelmed by the daal on the plate, and if you’re sharing, you’ll probably hope for a flip in the plating ratio. We’d suggest asking for a hefty order of naan to scoop up the leftover lentils on the plate. That said, we really appreciated the inclusion of the less-appreciated Bihari cuisine, which comes from northern India. This wasn’t something we’d ever encountered at an Indian restaurant, and even the South Asian people in our group were exposed to something new. While the food itself wasn’t particularly memorable, the inclusion of this dish itself was commendable.
Aurum’s garlic naan is aptly named: this side consists of traditional naan bread covered in caramelized garlic, herbs, and butter.
Naan is usually the most unmemorable part of a dish and is not often reviewed for that very reason, but this was a joyous exception. The garlic naan at Aurum is everything garlic naan should be: crunchy but soft, garlicky but not overpowering, buttery but not greasy. The caramelized garlic effortlessly melted into the fresh steaming bread, and we can confidently say that this is one of the most perfect garlic naans we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. This side complemented the rest of our meal beautifully, adding a punch of garlic and a delicious vehicle for the sauces of each dish.