Early this month Delhi’s timeless affair with gastronomy was rekindled when Machan at the Taj Mahal hotel reopened its doors for the public.
This is the third time the culinary legend has been revamped and now sports a contemporary look with tastefully done interiors, but it still retains the aura of the original Machan. The décor of the old Machan was based on Indian wildlife, reminiscent of the earlier days where ‘machans’, or raised platforms, were built as lookout and observation posts in jungles. Whereas the contemporary look focusses more on sustainablity while recreating scenes of the jungle-scape, with carefully thought-out details depicting the beauty of nature and the magnificence of the Indian tiger.
Given its name, the interiors come as no surprise. Recreating the experience of a forest, inspired both by India and the world, the restaurant focuses on details like the painted walls masking a tiger, the erect pillars made of bamboo, crafted terracotta masks made by local artisans, and the colour coordinated forest green uniform of the staff.
With flavours both old and new on board, the menu celebrates the spirit of the jungle. Delving into ‘pre hunt’, we started off with the Titicaca Greens which were wholesome black and white quinoa topped with soy onion chilli dressing and inspired from the wilderness in Peru.
If you are fond of greens, we’d suggest you not miss this one.
Moving on to the bonfire section, we were treated to what one would often find on a wildlife safari, pug marks. Shaped like one and generously coated with chilli chipotle mushroom, the unique flavours complimented the Indian palate’s bias towards spices.
Chef Arun Sundararaj’s team outshines the well thought out concept of the restaurant, with quirky dishes and even quirkier names.
The Mushrooms on the Forest Floor was quick to steal the limelight. The forest fungi was the right amount of chewy, owing to it being grilled and was soft due to the hazelnut butter and mushroom paper. The stuffed portobello on the base of basil soil struck the right chord and, almost immediately, induced a food coma.
But we are happy to report that we made a quick recovery upon hearing the word 'desserts'. The Chocolate K20 is best when experienced. But we will try to describe it. Made of single origin dark chocolate crémeux with a hazelnut micro sponge, it immediately transports you to food heaven.
When at Machan, there is no way we would miss out on the iconic Bull’s Eye. Shaped as it's named, we’re definitely not complaining about the chocolate overdose.
It's the little touch-and-go nostalgia here that makes the overall experience a memorable one. And the team has its best efforts in place to retain it forty year legacy.
Loyal patrons will be happy to know that the Midnight Menu, with coffee priced at Rs 5, is still available.
The restaurant also spots a state-of-the-art air purification technology for reduction of particulate matter and mitigation of microbes. Keeping in mind the current situation, they conform to the highest safety standards along with priding itself on heightened focus on sustainability and conservation.
Where: Machan at the Taj Mahal Hotel
Pocket Pinch: Rs 3,000-4,000 for two