Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Continuing in line with the Ramadhan (Fasting) month, today’s post is again an Iftar special but with a huge difference. During my childhood days, when I used to be in the Middle East, every Ramadhan we usually head to a couple of restaurants located in luxury hotels for Iftar. Each of these restaurants used to have a lavish spread of dishes and was truly a feast for the palate after about 16 hours of fasting. Keeping in line with the grandeur that Arabs exhibit, the spread used to have exotic fruits to wide range of meat cuts and summing up with an extra-ordinary variety of desserts. Moving over to India, this was always a miss, the sheer opportunity to sample around 50 dishes in a single go. Remember, I said sample not devour. ;)

A key question that I kept asking myself all these years was why hasn’t luxurious hotels caught up to this market yet. If cost was the only excuse then I can definitely vouch that it shouldn’t be. Again this year the same thought was crossing my mind when I suddenly stumbled upon what I’ve been wanting for ages. ‘Anise’ at ‘Taj Coromandel’ have finally decided to distinguish themselves and raise one notch above their counterparts. Yes, finally an Iftar special from a restaurant in a luxury hotel.

The iftar special at ‘Anise’ is meticulously crafted by the Executive Chef of Taj Coromandel, Chef Alok Anand and the outcome has been a deliciously nutrient rich menu following the traditional Iftar route yet having an own personality of its own. The Iftar Special is a Set-Menu beginning with ‘Iranian Dates’ served along with ‘Jallab’. Jallab is the Middle Eastern take on Rooh Afza aka Rose Milk. It is a drink made up of Dates, Rose water and with a topping of Pine Nuts minus the milk. This was followed by a big fruit bowl that set a perfect tone for the rest of the evening.
(Iranian Dates)
(Lassi & Jallab)
(Fruit Bowl)
With the fruits dusted, we were asked for a choice of a ‘Shorba Laham’ and ‘Lebanese Style Lentil Soup’. The mutton shorba had a strong flavour but was a tad too spicy for being served during Iftar. The Lentil soup made up for the shorba in a big way. Perfectly tempered lentils that provided the soup a completely different dimension in terms of texture. With the soups done, next up was the ‘Garbanzo bean and mint salad with Grilled Chicken’. The vegetarian alternative to the chicken salad was the classic ‘Fattoush’ salad. The salad was perfect in terms of portion size and had a very unique lemon dressing to it that captured the mood of Mediterranean in the right spirit.
(Lebanese Style Lentil Soup)
(Garbanzo Bean & Mint Salad with Grilled Chicken)
For the mains, one has an option to select either Chicken, Mutton, Fish or Vegetarian. The mutton being the ‘Gosht Biryani’, I decided to opt for the ‘Dejaj Mashwi’ to carry on with the authentic experience. The Mashwi was a portion of lemon roasted chicken with a Dill butter and served with some Horse Gram rice along with a vegetable ragout. The highlight of the mains was the intricate way in how it was balanced. The rice was very unique and together with the combination of chicken and ragout, made for a wholesome experience. As I enjoyed savouring my chicken, my friend went in for the Gosht biryani. The aroma of the biryani was so strong that I couldn’t resist its temptation. How can you have an amazing biryani sitting in front of you and not devour the same, hence I decided to take a go at the Gosht Biryani too. Honestly, it was the best possible biryani I’ve ever had at a restaurant in a 5 star hotel. Tender and juicy mutton pieces with a strong flavoured rice helped it stand apart from the other very average rice aka biryani that is available elsewhere. While the mains were being served, a glass of sweet rich lassi was bought to the table.
(Dejaj Mashwi)
(Gosht Biryani)
To bring closure to the Iftar menu, a portion of ‘Oum Ali’ and ‘Basbousa’ were served for the desserts. Oum ali is a form of milk pudding baked using condensed milk, nuts and puff pastry. Coming to the Basbousa, it is my favourite Mediterranean dessert and one that I’ve mastered baking myself at home. So it was a pleasant surprise to be served one. Basbousa is a semolina and coconut dessert sweetened with rose water and orange blossom. To balance the overload of sweetness, a small array of fruit platter accompanied the desserts, the perfect way to end the gourmet Iftar.
(Dessert Platter)

(Basbousa)
The Iftar Special Menu is available at Anise in Taj Coromandel till the 28th of July, 2014 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The four course set menu will cost you ₹ 1,250 plus taxes.

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