With the green terraced lawns and the Arabian Sea as your backdrop, a four-course Michelin-starred meal is only enhanced, not to mention further, with a selection of exclusive wines. The Chambers at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai served as the setting for our select sit-down to partake of the well-announced meal that awaited, courtesy the unprecedented collaboration of two in-house chefs from London and San Francisco.
Hear ye hear ye, The Chambers welcomes you to a sumptuous meal, prepared and laid out by Michelin chefs Sriram Aylur of Quilon – the only South Indian restaurant in the world with a Star – at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences London and Srijith Gopinathan of 2-Michelin starred Taj Campton Place, San Francisco.
London meets San Fran in Bombay. The result was a little teaser in the crispy yogurt kebab with maple relish that set the mood well with the bubbly to accompany. As Chefs Sriram and Srijith made their way to the table intermittently, we were enlightened of the nuances of Indian cooking abroad and its emergence on the global palate, yes, a gradual phenomenon. “Perceptions are still developing and need to be guided,” exclaims Chef Sriram originally from Kerala, the unassuming stalwart of the Taj group in UK for years together. “It is a glad occurrence of the increasing number of multi-cultural staff in our kitchens cooking Indian food and realising the truths of the flavours that constitute our cuisine and not what you see world-wide.” We’re guessing spicy curries with naan is the reference here. “So we at Quilon have no naan, roti or dal makhani type fare on our menus and what you relish here at this table now is a notion of what we do back home.”
And ‘relishes’ among the fare before us were certainly the Spice Pot, with potatoes, English peas, mint and tamarind and Green Peas Soup with spiced puffed quinoa, and the fragrant Jack Fruit Biryani.
The other Kerala boy, now a well-known figure in sunny California, Chef Srijith alludes to the fact that Indian cuisine in the US is evolving with the authenticity of ingredients and tastes, albeit gradually. This sort of collaborative effort helps promote our coastal heritage on the global map and spreads awareness on the variety we have in abundance. Just travel from Kerala upwards and you know what they are talking about; the smells, the flavours and the simplicity of it all. That’s what makes good food great, the simple touches such as in the Coconut, Asparagus, Mange Tout Mélange with Pomegranate Pineapple Pachadi and this little broccoli kebab that was yum. Vegetarian won at this Michelin-fed table, though the Malabari Roast Potatoes could have done with a tad more roasting.
The Coco-Coconut, Hazelnut Praline and Chocolate Glaze rounded off the soiree which travelled to Delhi and culminated in the longest table 101 Food & Wine Dinner at the grand Taj Falakhnuma. With proceeds of the meals going towards charity, Chef Sriram’s words ring out true, “Cuisine is the newest soft power that a country can exercise and we are seeing that with India.”
This feature was published in UpperCrust, Apr-Jun 2017, and printed with permission from the publisher.