With Reporting By – Megan D’Souza
Dah! (pronounced “duh-hee”), threw an exciting soiree at West Village’s Semma on Monday night to celebrate it’s launch. Brand Investor Padma Lakshmi attended and spoke about her love of the company’s mission and product – they’re an indian-inspired collection of yogurts aiming to introduce the American public to the Indian yogurt tradition. Chef Vijay Kumar crafted an exquisite meal featuring the products in every dish.
Semma, part of food group Unapologetic Indian’s restaurants along with Dhamaka, Adda, and Masalawala, showcases the kind of heritage South Indian cuisine not usually at the forefront of Indian restaurants catered towards Americans. Chef Kumar and Lakshmi both hail from the southern part of India, where Semma focuses its palate.
We arrived at 6pm and were greeted by a cocktail hour featuring El Cristiano Tequila and Dah!’s Alphonso Mango Lassi. The selections included Lassi Chakit Kar Denaa, and shooter of the lassi and tequila with a lemon rim, A Dah!-sh of Honey, a shot of tequila with a mango honey chaser, Silk Smitha, a martini with cardamom, tequila, and agave, Take Me to Semma, a passion fruit drink, and a selection of Indian wines. Guests sipped on various cocktails and socialized, taking in the colorful, lively interior of Semma. Appetizers such as Chicken 65, Idli fries, Tawa Prawns, and Uttapam circled the room and were quickly snapped up. Each of the appetizers featured Dah! Plain Lassi as a dip or marinade, illustrating how much of a staple yogurt is in Indian cuisine through all parts of the cooking process.
We sat down to dinner around 8 and Padma introduced the Chef and the product with an heart warming speech about love of culture, celebration of cuisine, and how she believes Dah! will spark a “new wave in yogurt culture” for health, wellness, and dietary reasons. Despite being in the food industry for over 20 years, she’s never done a collaboration with a brand like this, which “speaks volumes to how much [she loves] this brand.” Her story with the company starts around two summers ago, when they shipped her a few cases of their lassi while she was spending time with her extended family. Being an Indian family, they saw the familiar words dahi and lassi on the bottles and immediately recognized and snatched up the bottles. Because her family enjoyed them so much, she had to ask for more and decided to partner with the brand so she could help spread the tradition of dahi (translation from Hindi: yogurt) to the American public. Filled with protein and containing limited sugar, it’s “great for kids” and in recipes, and they’re hoping to introduce more savory options since that’s the way Indians typically consume yogurt.
Now onto the meal – served in three courses, we were served a few items for each, with the main courses served family style, the way Indian households have dinner. For appetizers, we had Dahi Puri, a spiced potato-filled semolina puff with Dah! Plain lassi cream, and Thayir Vadai (also called Dahi Vada) which was a bowl full of lentil dumplings with plain lassi, tamarind, and green chutney topping. For the main courses, we had okra stewed in a spiced lassi-based curry, called Vendakkai Mor Kozhambu, a spring chicken marinated with lassi and garam masala also coated in a delicious curry, called Kozhi Allepey. The meal was rounded out with sides of Parotta, a buttery layered flatbread, Thayir Sadam, a beloved Indian comfort food of yogurt and riced mixed together, and Thengai Sadam, coconut rice. Our favorite was the dessert, a delicious and beautifully presented pudding made of Dah! mango lassi topped with vermicelli, fresh mango, and coconut shavings, called Thayir Mambazham. Each dish as absolutely delicious and crafted with care, to highlight the versatility of Dah! and celebrate it’s launch.
Dah! offers both yogurt and lassi, a popular yogurt based Indian drink, and while they can be used beautifully in a variety of recipes as showcased by Chef Vijay tonight, the best way to drink it is just on its own, according to Lakshmi. Learn more about the brand here and look for their products in stores such as Whole Foods near you!