One of my firm resolutions of this new year is to travel more around Asia, as despite spending so much of my time in Bombay, I’ve yet to experience many of the wonders this side of the world.
I’m pleased to report that I’ve already made great progress – recently exploring the art, culture and of course, the culinary delights of South and South East Asia, from the Malabar Coast in Kerala through Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia to Thailand and Vietnam…
Designed to reflect the tenets of Feng Shui, the restaurant is a celebration of the journey of life. There are nine distinct areas, starting with the Knowledge section at the front (flanked by 16th century pillars from a temple), through to sections dedicated to the three stages of life; help and support; creativity; relationships; fate and fortune; wealth; and ancestry.
The effect is visually stunning. You’re actually unsure of where to turn and look next…
The antique ceilings (from Kerala) and rosewood beams… the 24k karat gold leafing on the walls… the impressive replicas of the panels from Thai temples… the illustrations from the Kamasutra or mesmerising murals, hand-painted with vegetable and flower dyes by painters brought in specially from a temple in Kerala (and following a tradition dating back 3,000 years)… The manuscript displayed of the Ramayana, in ancient Thai!
And then there’s the beautiful courtyard outside, seamlessly integrating the architecture and design of a Thai and Kerala home…
It’s the perfect setting for a languid lunch!
Our’s kicked off with an earthy combination of Thai and Kerala specialties.
A fresh, simple and naturally delicious raw papaya salad.
And a Kerala-style preparation of mushrooms (a thoughtful, veggie-friendly alternative to the traditional Chemeen Thoren – Kerala style prawns). Stir-fried with coconuts, black tamarind, curry leaves and a pinch of mustard seeds, it was packed full of flavour!
If I’m being honest though, the Thai green curry that followed next, fell a bit flat. While we loved the assorted medley of veggies, the curry itself lacked that robust, creamy consistency.
But we fared much better with the rest – a hearty pad thai jay (my favourite type of noodles) and silken beancurd, that was just sublime – tender chunks of tofu stir-fried with basil shoots in a Thai basil sauce that did much to enliven this otherwise simple dish.
We finished with a Caramen Dua – a Vietnamese version of crème caramel. Flavoured with coconut milk, it had a much milder sweetness than its rich, Western counterpart.
We couldn’t resist some generous scoops of ice cream either (in my books, ice cream is ALWAYS a good idea) – coconut of course, and also green tea. While there was none of the sharp, astringent note that I usually love of matcha ice cream, the creaminess and more subtle flavours of the green tea ice cream here were quite pleasing too!
Between the most relaxing of mornings at the Imperial spa (possibly Delhi’s best kept secret) and a dedicated Art Tour around the grand hotel (a testament to the treasures that lie within), our journey along the Spice Route was definitely the highlight of our last-day staycation at the Imperial.
And it was another ticked off, of my list of Condé Nast Traveller’s top ten restaurants in the world!
Spice Route at the Imperial, The Imperial, Janpath, New Delhi
I was hosted by the Imperial Delhi for lunch at Spice Route