Sunday, May 18, 2008


Magic at their finger tips….no I am not talking about Harry Potter and his gang of wizards, nor am I referring to our own desi Alfie Alphonso and his friends…..the Taj Exotica seems to have recruited culinary genie’s at ‘Eugenia’, its coffeshop which serves Indian, Continental and surprise….Jain and Gujarathi specialities.

Now you might wonder why I call them genie’s. You see in the famous story of Alladin and his magic lamp the genie had many skills at his finger tips....and if you consider the young chef’s Dipankar and Shantanu…even their names seem to sound like those of the Arabian nights, we decided to test their skills.

And so yours truly, with an utter disregard to the workouts she does at David Furtado’s dance aerobics classes, decided to…as the younger generation says…’go for it.’ And believe me the smiling Dipankar was unfazed.

Here comes the starters we thought to ourselves as the waiters bring in the Palak aur channa ki shammi, deep fried spinach and lentil cutlets with cheese (Indian), Farm fresh prawns wrapped with Zucchini and citrus chilli compote (Continental), and Khanand Dhokla…as you rightly guessed a steamed gram flour dumpling with mustard seeds, green chillies and coriander….absolutlely Gujarathi.

We had no qualms of heaping the generous helpings onto our designer yellow plates with an emblem of two red chillies. Neither did we bother to look at each other as morsel after morsel vied with each other as our salivary glands worked overtime. The shammi kebabs, the tender pink prawns with the tangy citrus chilli compote was tongue tickling.…and the Dhokla? One might ask why should one eat a dhokla in a five star hotel? Well their Maharaj seems to have got the receipe absolutely right.

Now with starters like that, one might tend to believe that you might not have room for the Main course. Have you ever stopped to wonder why our muscles are so elastic especially at the waistline? There is definitely scope for expansion.

And with that genie Dipankar in his element one needs to let those muscles expand. No I am not talking about doing breathing exercises. That is for the afternoon there is another method for expansion.

The Continental food arrives first. Let me warn you guys…we were just tasting. Of late I have seen many of my friends throw meaningful glances at my midriff when I stop to talk to them. You see it is very obvious especially when you are supposed to maintain eye contact when you speak to each other. Red snapper in potato crust and red onion confit.

One thing I like about these young innovative chef’s is that they are always experimenting with food. While most restauranteurs would serve their fish….fried, baked or raw, oh yea ask the Japanese…..Dipankar has masked the fish with a potato crust and a rich red onion confit(jam) completes the ensemble.

The Tenderloin medallion with a potato bacon roesti flavoured with rosemary, shallots and mushrooms was soft and tender…melting in the mouth. Somehow they seemed to have got the right supplier for their red meats…or they have got their cooking technique right. Joe laughingly remarks that when I make the meats at home, they are jaw muscle massagers…you have to chew and chew and chew.

Young Dipankar had not finished with us. It seems he was determined to kill us with food. On comes the Indian fare. Nalli gosht ki salan, lasooni aloo, paneer lababdar, Makhai Tamatar palak, Kadai Pakodi with hot crispy naan, missi roti’s….aha..i can see green envy in some eyes…but remember how much I need to exercise to get rid of those surplus kilo’s. It’s not funny.

The Nalli gosht ki salan…as I chewed on those tender shanks…on the next table Sanjay Dutt was seated with Mayata, his wife–to-be…the ecstacy in my eyes would rival any newly wed couple, and the Dum ki Biryani…those tender pieces of lamb in saffron and cooked in the sealed clay pot, the aroma still plays tantalizingly in my nostrils as I write down this piece. We seat back replete…who could ask for more.

But we had not taken into account Genie No 2. Shantanu…the Pastry chef. Talking of buffet’s…he churned out a dessert buffet ignoring our pleas. To tell you the truth those pleas were half hearted on seeing the fare. Walnot fudge brownie with icecream, expresso granite on pistachio cream….the cream was white chocolate and pistachio custard, the baked cheese cake enriched with Bailey’s served with a red currant coulis and finally the pineapple cake with prune and brandy icecream, served with…can you beat it….a pineapple-chilli salsa.

I wonder if one can salsa in a chair…..I must ask David that, but those moves of mine with gooey chocolate dripping down from the walnut fudge brownie had a story to tell. I looked at those two genie’s grinning from ear to ear. They sure know how to recognize a satisfied guest. Readers if anyone can help me find a genie who will help me shed these kilo’s pronto before next Saturday please help. I guess only a genie can do the trick.