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FOLLOW THE GRAND TRUNK ROAD

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Food eaten by the kings and queens of the Indian subcontinent, that’s what Anindra Siqueira sampled on a tour across the Grand Trunk Road when he dropped in to Taftoon

It isn’t often that a restaurant takes immense care with their menu, digging up the traditional methods of preparation and the original ingredients. But that’s the case with Taftoon in BKC, whose name comes from a preparation of bread baked in a clay oven and flavoured with cardamom. The food at Taftoon takes after the cuisine you might have come across if you’d have followed the Grand Trunk Road in the days of the maharajas. And a grand feast it is!

The interiors are lively and spacious, and the tables are well laid out. You won’t bump elbows with your neighbours here. And, while the bar and high seating are lovely, we chose to sit at a low table right in front of the kitchen, of which we had a splendid view. Head Chef Milan Gupta gave us a mini tour of the kitchen, from the traditional clay oven to the large coal pit constructed and run as they would have been in the days gone by.

We started our meal with Taftoon pe Harissa (Rs 339 each), chunks of lamb, chicken and mushroom mince on small pieces of taftoon bread, the best way to start our sojourn at Taftoon, according to chef Milan. Next, we were served a vegetarian platter, which comprised of a corn tikki, charcoal-grilled soya fillets, malai broccoli and cauliflower, tangy paneer chunks and a potato dish spiced with three types of chilli, as well as a non-vegetarian platter, which included a chicken-wrapped prawn, a crisp chicken cutlet and slow-cooked chicken marinated with tandoori spices.

We absolutely loved the Teen Miri Aloo (Rs 289), a dish that hits all the right notes and more! (We can’t speak highly enough of it.) From the non-veg platter, we savoured every dish, but the Lipta Jheenga (Rs 629) and the Mirza Hasnu Tikka (Rs 429) stood out.

The spread of mains (called The Middle on the menu) was a lavish one, and included fish marinated in mustard and yoghurt, marinated with tandoori spices.

We absolutely loved the Teen Miri Aloo (Rs 289), a dish that hits all the right notes and more! (We can’t speak highly enough of it.) From the non-veg platter, we savoured every dish, but the Lipta Jheenga (Rs 629) and the Mirza Hasnu Tikka (Rs 429) stood out.

The spread of mains (called The Middle on the menu) was a lavish one, and included fish marinated in mustard and yoghurt, tender lamb and chicken cooked in a coconut and cashew gravy. The Bhapa Macch (Rs 449), as it is called, is a Bengali Pujo recipe of steamed freshwater fish wrapped in banana leaf. The mustard and yoghurt lift the otherwise bland dish, which may not be something everyone will enjoy. The Gushtaba (Rs 539), on the other hand, was simply delicious. A Kashmiri Waza delicacy, the lamb is pounded by hand, then poached and stewed in cardamom-flavoured Yakhni sauce, and finally tempered with hot mustard oil and dried mint. We also liked the coconuty Murg Rezala (Rs 479), and Eid special from Chittagong.

Strangely though, the show was stolen by the breads. Even though the Lal Naan (Rs 149) was played up, the oven-baked Zafrani Taftoon (Rs 119), which is flavoured with saffron and a hint of black cardamom, was unbelievably good! We wish more restaurants have this kind of naan to go with our meals. The Lal Naan too was tasty, as were a few others in the serving of breads (such as the poppy-encrusted Baquerkhani and the Raampuri Parathy Paratha, each for Rs 109), but we can’t get the humble Zafrani Taftoon out of our heads.

Next came the Dumpukht-style Safed Ghost ki Purdah – Nashin Biryani (Rs 429), which was just about okay. However, this might have been because by the time we tried it we were already quite full. It was accompanied by a pumpkin raita, which didn’t hit the high notes, either, that some of the other dishes on the menu did.

We ended with the Chena Plate (Rs 389), a Bengali sweet shop sampler of assorted, milk-based sweets, and we really loved the malai sandwich. We were sad that we had only so little to savour. We also tried the Kaju ki Kulfi, Anjeer aur Falooda (Rs 349), a thick and delicious preparation unlike any we’ve tasted recently, and the rich Chocolate Pudding (Rs 319), an indulgent way to end any meal.

We came away thoroughly satisfied, but still in awe of the tasty potato and, of course, the taftoon bread. We’d recommend Taftoon for anyone looking for a taste of the royal cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, some of which you can be sure was shared by the kings and queens of Ancient India.

Where: Naman Centre, G Block, Opposite Dena Bank, BKC
Meal for two: Rs 2,800
Alcohol served: Yes (a pint of beer from `209 onwards)
Contact: 65656100/ 26530255

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