These lovely woods are not dark and deep, but they have a legacy similar to Robert Frost’s poem, if not as old. This isn’t your typical review, but then this isn’t your typical Delhi restaurant. When Machan, at the Taj Mahal Hotel, opened its doors to the public at the threshold of the 1980’s, India was a very different place; so was Delhi; so was the world.
Machan, which began welcoming guests back this month with a new look and a menu ranging from the contemporary to the classic, reminds you why the Taj Mahal hotel is the heart of Delhi’s heart. The new menu, designed by Chef Arun Sundararaj, and implemented by his team, is reflective of the restaurant’s original ethos: inspired by forests, wherever said forest might be.
This is why you may first encounter, as we did, a Phu Chi Fa Bean Broth, a vegetarian consommé of ingredients found in South-East Asian tropical forests, which is a light yet flavourful showcase of that region, sans the humidity. Speaking of forests, which we invariably will throughout this exploration, we saunter across the Black Forest.
Inspired by the German-Italian wooded stretch, this dish that takes its name from the shortbread mini-pizzette, comes festooned with verdant rocket lettuce and studded with Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, and roasted garlic. It reminds you that forests have everything nature intended, but cities have ovens. And thank goodness for electricity.
*** For a change of pace, we paddle by the shore as, according to the menu, The Ocean Turns Purple. This memorably named dish with its equally memorable quenelles of mashed potato and butter poached sea bass, nestled among a bed of warm mushrooms, makes one thank logistics for the ability to get swimmingly fresh seafood into a landlocked Delhi diner’s mouth. Speaking of seafood, we would be remiss to not mention the Lumaconi, a snail shaped pasta stuffed with the treasures of the sea, served in a sauce as beguiling as it is flavoursome.
Back on land is Mushrooms on the Forest Floor, a fungi collective of stuffed Portobello and varied toasted wild mushrooms served on a bed of basil soil and buttressed with hazelnut. Eat and repeat. For dessert is the Chocolate K20, which is a single origin dark chocolate creameaux, accoutred with a hazelnut micro sponge. If that sounds too technical it’s because some things are meant to be experienced and not discussed. So, we’ll see you there. And yes, of course, the Bull’s Eye is still there in Machan.
Meal for two: Rs 3000-3500 (with taxes)
At: Taj Mahal Hotel, Man Singh Road.
Machan, designed by Chef Arun Sundararaj, is reflective of the restaurant’s original ethos:inspired by forests, wherever said forest might be.
1. Machan Breakfast Trail
2. Ecuadorian Jivara, Forest Berries
3. Mushrooms on the Forest Floor