There is a certain joy in eating outdoors while being close to nature seldom found in the confines of the cold walls of a commercial restaurant located within the stifling margins of a bustling city. Given the abundant natural beauty surrounding the cities of Chandigarh and Panchkula, one tends to wonder, is it possible to dine in a place close to nature and still have the comfort of a high class restaurant experience without breaking the bank? The answer as we, the members of St Johns Ex-Teachers Association (SJETA), found out was a resounding yes. This place was Aasma, the revolving restaurant.
Aasma is a casual dining restaurant located just a breezy 20 min drive from Panchkula, off the Kalka Highway number 5 in the peaceful Amravati Enclave. Its a unique structure, standing tall and majestic from afar, overlooking the verdant surroundings of the Shivalik range in the North and the Nepli Reserved Forest in the West. It is the brainchild of the Restaurateur family of one of our old boys Ainesh which leads me to think that St Johns could easily launch a great culinary management school one day, given the talent and sheer number of excellent places to eat being owned by our students. As I was reminiscing over these entrepreneurial thoughts, one of our teachers called out that we had arrived.
Our large group of hungry eaters took the express elevators up the tall structure and were ushered into the restaurant which was unlike any I have ever been to. The space was colossal and I was told it could seat 128 guests. Each of these elegant mahogany seats with tasteful brown/beige dcor had an unrestricted view to the lush green hills and forests. The whole space was round as expected in a revolving restaurant, the pace of the movement very subtle making the panorama keep in step with each dish of culinary delights. We started out with our favorite Fresh Lime Sodas for the teetotalers and whisky on the rocks in elegant glasses served from the well-equipped bar. Spring rolls and Hara Bhara Kababs played their stellar roles as appetizers. The rolls were crisp on the outside and piping hot inside, the kababs were made to melting perfection. With the rainy humid season on song, it was time to bring out some monsoon heavy-hitters: the assorted Pakoras and Manchurian. Fried to perfection and reminding you of the times you spent on the verandah sipping Chai and eating fresh pakoras out of the kitchen, the taste was impeccable. The Manchurian was also splendidly satisfying. By this time, we knew we could not go wrong with whatever we order and that the menu seemed to be well designed and each dish coming out of the kitchen looked well executed. My theory was proven right by the excellent Pastas with spicy Aglio Con Pepperoncini and the classic Arabiata. The tomato gravy was cooked to nice savory sweetness and the spice kicked the taste up a notch. Many servings were had of the excellent Garlic Bread. After having our fill of the Entrees, it was time to indulge in the sinful Rasmalai and my favorite Kulfi. As I was looking up at the ceiling, perhaps praying to the culinary gods and thanking them for this excellent meal, I could not help but notice the mural and classical frescoes on the ceilings. It made me realize how much love and attention to detail had gone into making this restaurant an experience to behold. As the night set in, I saw the mesmerizing sunset and the shimmering lights of Barog and Kasauli slowly turn on like jewels on the hills. Aasma is as much a feast for the eyes as for the palate.
I highly recommend making a nice short trip outside the hustle bustle of the city and making a pit stop at Aasma. After all, all great journeys begin with an excellent meal.
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