It was at Taj Land End’s Masala Bay restaurant that I first devoured a meal presented by Chef Amninder Sandhu- the pioneer of gas-free ethnic Indian cooking. The impeccable meal stayed with me for a long, long time because of its simple but nuanced and unique flavours. So Chef Sandhu’s ingredient-forward experiential restaurant and lounge, Arth was definitely a part of my check-list.
As a tall, thick door heaves open to the hostess’s desk and expansive lounge, shiny black-and-white flooring, gold-rimmed black pillows on chaise lounges, bronze side tables, faux trophy animals and chandeliers leave you loving the interiors as you soak in its elegance. I start off with an interesting amuse-bouche. I’ve tried all sorts of amuse-bouche but the one at Arth is something different. The varq-coated pearls made of white chocolate filled with tangy masala that is an explosion of flavours, sure to melt in your mouth. Off to a good start, I go for the delish Tokri chaat with the goodness of potato basket, chickpeas, bean sprouts, yoghurt, tamarind, mint chutney. The basket stayed crispy for a long time and did not soften because of the yoghurt. The chickpeas, bean sprouts add other kinds of crunchiness to this one.
Next up, the yoghurt kebab of hung curd, chickpeas and pomegranate with its delicate texture and spot-on flavour wins me over. The Naga Mushroom Gilawat of naga mushroom, cloves, crisp saffron biscuit with its strong flavours fought for attention in each bite. The Mutton Kakori Kebab of minced mutton, cardamom and clove saffron is another melt-in-the-mouth affair done understatedly.
The chicken makhmali that comprises chicken kebabs, whipped egg whites and black truffle pate is inventive-enough to grab my attention and dreamily succulent. Too full after feasting on the starters, I still sample the Mango Wood Smoked Chicken (whole chicken seared over charcoal tawa and slow-cooked over mango wood) and Jackfruit Deomali – smoked jackfruit in a bamboo on charcoal served with fragrant Alphinia leaf wrapped Jasmine Rice, both superstars in their own right. You understand the wonders of gas-free cooking as you indulge in these scrumptious dishes.
For dessert, I try the Angoori Rabdi on phyllo nests which simply-put tastes divine. Childhood was served on a platter with the intriguing Indian – flavoured Ice Cream Sandwiches- a sure delight. The food at Arth is cooked at low temperatures for extended periods of time in a charcoal or wood smoker. The smoked produced is absorbed by the ingredients, giving it a unique flavour of taste. Designed to impress and plated with flair, Chef Sandhu’s Arth surely makes you swoon at India’s culinary repository.
Note: The critic was invited by the restaurant but all the opinions expressed herewith are her own
604, Pinnacle House, PD Hinduja Marg, 15th Road,
Off Linking Road, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050