I’ve come to expect nothing short of spectacular when visiting the Shangri-La at the Shard.
After a heavenly experience earlier this month, sipping cocktails in the clouds at GŎNG, I returned to the highest hotel in Europe to indulge in one of the best Indian meals I’ve had in London yet…
I knew it was going to be a special evening from the moment I stepped into REN – the airy and spacious private room at the hotel, playing host to the Great Indian Culinary Journey.
Created by visiting chefs, Neeraj Tyagi and Lakhbir Singh (of the Shangri-La Hotels in New Delhi and Bangalore respectively), the exciting fusion menu combines the cuisines of Northern and Southern India, taking the explosive results to new heights… quite literally, as REN is housed on the 34th floor of the Shard, with sweeping views across the River Thames and City of London!
The vibrancy of their menu carried through to the ambience too, with colourful floral displays and mesmerising performances by
Zayn Malik, a sitar player and traditional dancers holding our attention…
… as we kicked off the bank holiday weekend with a crisp glass of champagne and wholesome canapés that could very well have passed off as starters, themselves!
We were seated for the main event – a royal feast, spanning a ten-course tasting menu with dishes brought out to share (as is our Indian custom!).
Meen Varuthathu set the bar high from the very beginning – a sense of sheer, unadulterated delight washing over the table as my dinner companions bit into the marinated freshwater fish, to find the perfect crispy exterior fall apart and reveal a melt-in-your mouth meatiness to it.
Other highlights from the starters included spicy roast chicken (enlivened with a kick of cumin seeds detected in the batter), while this vegetarian scoffed down a couple of devilishly deep-fried beetroot patties!
The mains involved a selection of classic Indian dishes, treated with much love and respect by the Chefs and executed with finesse.
Think tender succulent chunks of butter chicken swimming in a rich, cream-based gravy and spicy mutton curry from the Chettinad region of South India, served with plenty of crisp naans and other Indian breads (including my favourite mint parathas) to mop up the intensely flavoured sauces with!
Vegetarian favourites included an indulgently thick and creamy dal makhani; an earthy preparation of fennel-tinged paneer (cottage cheese); and khubanmi ke koftey – soft and supple cottage cheese and apricot dumplings simmered in a lusty tomato gravy. The latter was so moreish in fact, that even the non-veggies on the table found themselves ordering seconds!
A khatta meetha (sweet-and-sour) sorbet with a dash of churan (a type of digestive powder), offered a refreshingly punchy reprieve as we readied ourselves for dessert…
And then this happened.
Luscious gulab jamuns (a soft milk-solids-based Indian sweet) drenched in rose and cardamon syrup…
… And crispy, deep-fried sugar-soaked jalebis, which we unabashedly dunked into the mango-flavoured condensed milk served on the side!
It was an utterly blissful evening from start to end, featuring Indian comfort food at its decadent best.
I attended the launch event for the Great Indian Culinary Journey. Starting Sunday 29 May 2016, the menu will be available for a limited time at TING at Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard. You can contact the hotel for more information.