Fine Dining Guide had the honour and privilege to be invited to a special Chilli Gourmet Dinner on 6 October 2010, at the Bombay Brasserie.
This iconic restaurant, as far removed, figuratively speaking, from the local Indian eatery as London is from Mumbai, has continued to attract a host of famous diners, from business magnates to“A” list film celebrities.
After major refurbishment in 2009, the restaurant is larger, brighter and more airy, emulating the luxury of the historic grand palaces within the Taj group. A showpiece kitchen with counter seating in the marbled floored conservatory, a restyled bar and a private dining room, with its own small lounge are new features. Whilst the glass roof, plush carpets and tropical plants remain, gone are the cane furnishings, so reminiscent of the Raj.
Overall, a more sophisticated, sumptuous look is evident, with a variety of seating areas, both relaxed and formal.
The special Chilli menu was created by Grand Master Chef Hemant Oberoi, Executive Chef of Taj group, the flagship of which is the celebrated Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Mumbai.
A legend in the world of Indian cookery, Chef Oberoi has hosted banquets for royalty, heads of state and Hollywood stars, pioneering his trend of alternative Indian cuisine, blending tradition and authenticity – including neglected recipes from old rural communities and families – with modern methods of cooking. Overseeing luxurious establishments from Boston to Bhutan, Cape Town to Sydney, Chef Oberoi has left his indelible mark on the Taj brand, making his food a magnet for discerning foodies.
What was so impressive of the Chilli menu was the subtlety and hidden depth of the variety of mild and strong chillies used, reflecting the range of different regional Indian cuisines. The way in which chillies can complement rather than overwhelm other flavours was revealing.
A starter of seared scallops marinated in hot yellow chilli powder retained its succulence and sweetness. A Goan Reshad dish of fried chillies with halibut and spicy prawns lifted the clean flavours of the seafood. A lentil broth with pink peppercorns had an earthy spiciness that was delicious and comforting. Next came the mild, fruit-like flavour of fresh green chillies in a lamb dish of Roti Pe Hare Mirsh Ki Boti. In contrast, highly pungent Guntur chillies from Andhra Pradesh were used in a dish of crispy chicken strips
Before the main courses, a tongue tingling sorbet of sweet jaggery and chilli was served in spectacular fashion of bowl puffing with clouds of liquid nitrogen.
A trio of main courses followed:-
Lal Mirch Ka Gosht, in which lamb was cooked deghi mirch flavoured sauce, was rich but mild. Murg Khatta Pyaz was a superior chicken tikka, spiked with vinegar shallots, giving it a welcome intense sharpness. Achari Chicken Biryani saw basmati rice generously served with chicken with stuffed red chilli.
All the accompaniments of peri-peri olive naan, parathas, cucumber and mint raita were first rate, as were the trio of desserts Narangi, Malpua, Kala Jamun Brulee, Chenna Payesh.
Overall, this dinner was an brilliant advertisement for the extraordinary versatility of the different varieties of chilli and the creative genius of Chef Oberoi in using this ingredient in such inspirational ways. Lovers of serious Indian food will delight in the forthcoming Chilli season early next year.
The full menu is printed below:
Peele Mirch Ka Scallop
(Griddled curry leaf, yellow chilli powder marinated scallops)
Fish Reshad on spice prawns
(Goan style pan fried goan chillies flavoured halibut on a bed of spicy prawns)
Pink Pepper Rasam
(Lentil broth infused with pink peppercorns)
Roti Pe Hare Mirch Ki Boti
(Tender morsels of lamb with fresh green chillies)
Tossed Andhra Chicken
(Crispy chicken strips with Guntur chillies)
Jaggery and Chilli Sorbet
(Fresh red chillies and jaggery sorbet)
Lal Mirch Ka Gosht
(Lamb cooked in a deghi mirch flavoured gravy) Mild,
Murg Khatta Pyaz
(Chicken tikka with vinegar shallots)
Achari Chicken Biryani
(Traditional rice dish – chicken with stuffed red chilli and basmati rice)
Mirchi Ka Salan
(Cucumber and Mint raita)
Naan, Paratha, Peri peri olive naan
Dessert: a trio of
Narangi, Malpua, Kala Jamun Brulee, Chenna Payesh
The meal can also be seen as a prelude to the series of major special events in the next few months. These will be overseen by the restaurant’s Executive Chef Prahlad Hegde, who holds a lifetime achievement award from the Good Curry Guide
The Chilli Celebration Dinner season from 17th to 30th January 2011 will enable diners to choose from a chilli a la carte menu from approximately £45.
A Regional Taste Tour of Chillies Masterclass, is scheduled for 21 January 2011. (Each masterclass, from £45 per head, will be held in the conservatory open kitchen with champagne, food tastings and a Tiffin lunch featuring Bori, Parsi, Maharashtrian and Goan dishes.)
Other masterclasses are:-
Flavours of Diwali on Friday, 5 November 2010,
Taste of the Royal Palaces of India, Friday 18 March, 2011