Monday, March 02, 2009

Masala Art

Bhatti Ka Jeenga at Masala ArtIn New Delhi for a couple of days, I found myself back at the elegant Taj Palace hotel. I had taken the early morning Kingfisher flight from Pune and was in meetings all day long. Travelling from one location to another during the day, I was glad this was one of those rare days in Delhi - neither too cold nor too hot! When the day ended, I was back in my hotel with no inclination to venture out again for dinner.

Luckily, the Taj is home to a few good restaurants. Their most famous is the Orient Express which traces the foods of the legendary train's journey in a fine dining experience. But today I was intent on trying their contemporary Indian restaurant, Masala Art. Boasting a show kitchen and a minimalist decor, the restaurant does add a few interesting touches. The one I liked the most was the 'phulka' trolley which makes hot, home-style phulka rotis at your table-side.

Stuff to munch at Masala Art
Luknowi Bhuna Gosht at Masala ArtThe Bhatti Ka Jeenga, char-grilled jumbo prawns with delicate spices, were rather good. However, what I really remember from the dinner was the Lucknowi Bhuna Gosht, succulent pieces of lamb cooked to perfection in a heady mix of spices. Especially with the home-style phulka rotis, instead of the standard naan or paratha. Cooked on griddles (and not the tandoor), these breads are staple fare at most North Indian homes. Many travellers tend to think of naan as the most common Indian bread. Actually, few Indian homes make use of the tandoor, which is only found in restaurants and parts of north-western India.

PhulkaFinally, for dessert they recommended the street-style Tilliwali Anjeer Kulfi, a frozen dessert of thickened milk and figs on a stick. At the end, they laid out a large assortment of Indian mouth fresheners of supari and paan.

Tilli Wali Kulfi at Masala Art
Supari platter at Masala ArtMasala Art is popular with many Delhi-based celebrities but, unlike the last time, I didn't run into any. While the food is good and different, the decor and ambiance seem rather ordinary. However, the quality of service at the Taj can make the ordinary seem rather good.

Masala Art New DelhiThey had upgraded my room to the Club level and the view outside was beautiful. The room, like the St. Regis in San Francisco, has a unrestricted view from the bathtub into the rest of the bedroom area. The entire glass wall between the bathroom and the bedroom area can be curtained off with the press of a switch. Cool! Equally cool were the Bose music/radio system in the room and the Services cupboard within the room. Adjacent to the door, the Services cupboard has a secret door from the outside. The housekeeping can remove/put back laundry, shoes, and newspaper into this cupboard within the room without having to knock or having you open the door. Is that cool or what?

(Bath)room with a view at the Taj PalaceCafe Fontana, the 24x7 coffee shop in this hotel serves up a variety of items in their breakfast buffet. Like I am wont to do, I chose what is native fare here: pooris on one day, and aloo paratha on another.

Taj Palace New Delhi
Parathas at Cafe Fontana
Pooris at Cafe FontanaAll large hotels in New Delhi now have X-ray machines at their entrance to scan bags and luggage. The guys who check the cars at the gates of the Taj did a more thorough check than any other hotels. Which also takes a lot more time, unfortunately. In good news for frequent travellers to this city, the domestic airport is finally getting better. The arrival lounges were new and much improved; the new departure terminal too is almost ready now.


Lakshmi said...

There is a lot of food ..but the phulka looks amazing - humble, but filling :)

Aathira Nair said...

Those plates looks lovely with their small colourful design pattern!

And now I am craving for Bhuna Gosht!


my my . the room is terrific

Vikash Kumar said...

Aah!! really... Phulka may be the most common bread in nothern house holds.. but Phulka with little ghee on it, is just unbeatable.. I am a big fan & I am homesick now at the sight of it on the burner :)

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Anonymous said...

Lovely food, lovely fulkas, yes it is so rare to get them and I sooo miss ...:-((

Anonymous said...

@All: Thank you for the comments.

@anu: I will get back to you on email.

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu!
Sorry I couldn’t visit you for the last two weeks! I’m trying to catch-up and see the wonders you have around! You have no problem dining at the Taj Palace... ;))

Meanwhile, one of the most beautiful Forts in India waits you and your comments at Blogtrotter: – The Amber Fort! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

So this is the hotel that's been terrorized? How's the repair workings so far?

The food looks delish... And the interior decor is so opulent. Having an Indian meal inside such a classy place makes one feel like a maharaja huh...

Anonymous said...

@GMG: No one does this better than you! Love your photo journals on the historical Indian forts, temples and monuments.

@Kyh: No, that one is its sister hotel in Mumbai. The new wing was functioning normally within a month of the attacks, but the historical old wing has considerable damage and will take time to restore.