Taj Connemara's new Anglo-Indian buffet is packed with flavour and nuggets of history
For as far back as head chef of the Taj Connemara, Kishore Kumar can remember (he’s been with the Taj group for close to a decade) — there has always been a dedicated page in their Verandah menu for Anglo-Indian cuisine. Such an inclusion is fairly novel, given that it is not common to find this option at most restaurants or five-star hotels. In fact, if you wanted an authentic Railway Lamb Cutlet, you probably would have to befriend someone in the community, and then make your way into the interior lanes of Royapuram for a taste!
Spoonful of history
But a brand new buffet addition at the hotel, now promises a different Anglo-Indian feast, every Saturday. And apart from making the cuisine more accessible to people, the chef shares, that the fare, much like the Taj Connemara which is steeped in history, does help revisit a long forgotten era. “Like the Southern Railway Mutton Curry which rail passengers would dig into en route Calcutta to Madras,” he gives us an example. ‘Why Calcutta?’ we wonder as we enjoy a serving of the curry with is moderately spiced of course, given the British influence with succulent mutton chunks and potatoes. “The curry originated in Bengal,” he responds, “but it became famous as the ‘Southern’ Railway Mutton Curry because one of the key ingredients was in fact, Madras curry powder.”
Ironically, he says with a laugh, “Madras curry powder isn’t available in Madras. We got ours from the Middle East!”
Cutlets & custard
We relish the curry over a bed of fragrant Basmati rice, which has been slow cooked in coconut milk for added flavour. And the combination is both hearty and delicious. There are other dishes that serve up a familiar sense of home like the dal fry (toor dal tempered with ginger, mustard, cumin and dry red chilli) and the simple but flavourful Beans Foogath (a Western coastal delicacy of stir-fried beans tempered with mustard, lentils, chilli and coconut). In contrast, alongside is a deep dish of English-style Gratin — which consists of cinnamon and bay leaf scented vegetables and serves a generous layer of cheese on top.
So we quite literally taste two cultures as we go through our main course, with some nuanced edits to fit a new community palate. There’s even a Fish Moley (or molee) on order which unlike the Kerala version which is tangy, the chef explains, is milder on the taste buds, and creamier, with barely a hint of green chillies.
But our personal favourites turns out to be a toss-up between the crunchy Railway Lamb Cutlet and the Mini savoury tarts with curried Lamb Ragout. Both appetisers were so scrumptious that we might have requested repeats for dessert — if not for the Coconut Custard Pie that awaited us, that is.
On Saturdays, the buffet is for dinner only. INR1,800 ++ per person.
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