Chef Mehra took us behind the scenes and into the tandoori room at his prized restaurant.
If you get goosebumps just thinking of how close that recipe came to being forever lost, you're not alone. Talking with Chef Mehra gave me amazing insight into the careful crafts of the culinary world, the passion and discipline that are poured into every sauce, and the role that family, tradition, community, and care play into making good food taste great.
In my opinion, there's practically no finer food in the world than fresh, hot, bubbly, buttery naan bread. Naan is very trendy these days, serving as a the base for everything from pizza to breakfast wraps, but very little has changed in the preparation method over the centuries. A skilled chef shapes and stretches the dough and slaps the flat bread onto the interior of a clay tandoori oven where it bakes and blisters in the 400 degree heat. It's equal parts art and science and it was wonderful to see it the process first hand.
One small feature of the East India Company's kitchen that I really loved is that they have two tandoori ovens, one to accommodate meats such as the marinated chicken pieces above, and the other for the naan bread and other vegetarian items. Accommodating guests and respecting their choices is something comes naturally for this family run business. And speaking of vegetarian food.....
It's clear that Ryan and I are a little bit obsessed with Indian cuisine but I know not everyone feels very fond towards spices and curries. Take heart! We also had an amazing, lightly seasoned platter of tandoori chicken that would appeal to the most finicky of palettes. An earthenware pop of high seasoned biryani, topped with a crust of saffron infused bread, was perfect for guests who love flavors beyond curry and chili. And my favourite meat dish of all, Chicken 65, tasted the way butter chicken should if it were ever to grow up. There was heat and a depth of flavors but the addition of cream kept the dish from being fiery or overwhelming. So delicious!
The buffet was one of the largest and most colorful we've experienced. There was a wide range of salads and chutneys that was great for mixing and matching flavors. And many of our favourites, including butter chicken and vegetable korma, were present and in fine form. But there were a few detractions as well. The showcase dish, a large pot of bubbling chicken, had overheated and scorched on bottom. Unfortunately, the scorched taste permeated the entire cauldron when it was stirred. And there were a few moments when the service was less attentive than we'd like. Neither concern was critical but we were a bit disappointed after our incredible experience previously at the group dinner. My final verdict: Decent buffet, but this is one restaurant where you want to splurge with the fantastic a la carte.
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Our first dinner was courtesy of Insight Vacations. All research, writing, and opinions are our own.