Besides the Grand Trunk Road being notoriously famous as the oldest highway in South Asia running from Bengal across North India into Peshawar in Pakistan up to Afghanistan, the trail is also well known for its delectable culinary cuisine. Everyone knows that highway food is the best — a piping hot trail of flavors so you can bet I was looking forward to this highway on my plate when I was invited by Masala Bay, Taj Lands End to be a part of this gastronomic journey.
Typical to true Taj style, the restaurant décor was elegant and inviting. The tables were laid out in fine china and crystal ware. I loved the little charpoy centerpiece.
The first thing that impressed me right away was the specially designed menu for the Grand Trunk Road food festival; it was not just the vivid colors and design that was eye catching. You could tell that every dish on the menu was carefully selected to represent culinary inventions from Afghanistan to Kolkota and I was right! Chef Amninder explained that this was a menu close to her heart and every dish was a recreation of something she learned on her travels. A recent trip to Puraani Dilli was the inspiration behind this menu as she wanted to capture something which reflected the heritage of India, with the rustic and vibrant flavors of the Grand Trunk highway. I was ready for my delectable journey down the Grand Trunk Road
We started out with a platter of starters — “Chapli Kebabs” from Afghanistan that was cooked the traditional way by mincing the mutton by hand and using coarse spices. Light, crumbly and full of flavor this was indeed a favorite. The “Lawrence Road de Tawa de Tikke” and the “Amristari Macchi” a tribute to Amristar was another table favorite. The “Chicken Tangdi” on the other hand was nothing to write home about. A tall glass of lassi complemented my bites.
Next up was the main course which included the “Afghani Kabuli Pulao,” a mix of chickpeas and dry fruits with rice; “Kadhai Murgh,” “Kadhi Pakoda,” “Baingan Bartha,” “Mutton Chaanph,” “Chingri Malai” and more. We were also served an assortment of breads and naans. While the dishes were really good and did do justice to its regional flavors, what I found missing was that “WOW” factor to make it a truly great eating experience. I’m talking the highway or dhaba-type experience where you are served deliciously rich and spicy food with a generous amount of desi ghee/butter. Of course, Chef probably had our best interests at heart and did not want us to go overboard with our cholesterol levels. I gotta say though, more than the eating experience I was more enthralled with Chef Amninder’s passion for cooking and her stories were nothing short of inspirational.
My verdict – Do try it for the Grand Trunk Road experience as the variety of food is a journey in itself. The carefully curated menu reads like a map reviving old little known dishes as well as celebrating the truly famous and classic recipes that have a place in every home.
Date: 6 – 20 June, 2016
Time: Lunch and Dinner
Where : Taj Lands End, Bandstand, Bandra West,
Bandra(W), Mumbai 400050