Have you ever been jealous of your tastebuds? I discovered that it is entirely possible when James and I went along to The Mint Room in Clifton. Our lucky tastebuds went on a culinary journey through India, via the Tour of India tasting menu.
I have never been to India but I feel like I’ve been treated to a little taster via the chefs at The Mint Room and the staff that explain each dish, showing off the various styles of cooking and the flavours that vary from region to region.
Before we began our tour, we needed to hydrate. Naturally we opted for cocktails, the best way to quench your thirst before travels. I was on the Rose Berry Fizzes, quite possibly my new favourite cocktail.
First stop for our tastebuds was something familiar and comforting : poppadoms. If you’re not tucking into those thin crispy breads, are you even in an Indian restaurant?! The accompanying dips were improved versions to the norm we’re used to and we enjoyed generous helpings atop our poppadoms.
Next up was a taster of Indian street food in the form of an Indian Street Chat. Made up of puff pastry, chickpeas, tamarin sauce, yogurt and pomegranate. We were instructed to eat in one bite, which wasn’t a problem.
Still easing us in gently, our next course was the Khumb Tikki. A shallow fried trio of mushrooms and soya chunk melange (posh word for mixture) with selected spices served with a sandalwood sauce.
James hates mushrooms and even he enjoyed this dish. They’re diced so finely, you don’t even notice their usual texture. Anywhere that can change James opinion of mushrooms is doing very well. Served with a beetroot salad and super tasty.
The next dish was probably my favourite: Nargisi Tikki. Stuffed salmon with quail egg simmered in curry leaf flavoured coconut sauce. It was something of a revelation, I like fish and eggs but I would never have picked this dish if I’d seen it on the menu. It was so so good – the salmon was cooked beautifully and the sauce was spicy, yet creamy, it accompanied the salmon wonderfully.
When we return, if we don’t have the tasting menu again, I’m going all in for the salmon and egg!
To cleanse the palette and prepare it for some more exciting flavours, we were given a melon and basil sorbet. We added to the cleansing with a couple more cocktails, these do the job very well too.
Palettes ready and raring to go, our table was then swarmed with an awesome array of dishes. They kept coming. My belly was starting to feel intimidated but rumbling all at the same time.
Placed in front of us was the Battakh dish: braised duck breast marinated with crushed peppercorn and sea salt, served with a mixed bell pepper sauce. I love a restaurant that isn’t afraid to up the spice and give you something with a bit of heat. There was a touch of sweetness in the sauce, so even if you don’t like a lot of spice, it’s easy to handle and enjoy all the same.
It was also one of the nicest pieces of duck I’ve eaten, cooked perfectly pink and so tender.
The other main event was the railway lamb: simmered in mixed peppers, onion tomato, homemade pickle and baby potatoes. Served with saag aloo, jackfruit rice and naan breads – we had garlic and peshwari. Every time James and I go to an Indian restaurant, he always asks what naan bread I’d like, even though the answer is always peshwari. Perhaps he’s hoping I’ll mix it up occasionally?
Never. Peshwari all the way.
The lamb dish was more tomato based than creamy, it tasted more of a traditional curry and felt like a naughty treat at the end of a fancy meal. All the sides brought the main event to a great finale – all those smaller dishes were just gearing us up to this moment. I was starting to get full, but very happy – a joyous combination.
We’d almost completed our trip and I was sad that it was coming to an end, but not before a sweet treat. After discovering Indian Kulfi at Sholay Kitchen a few weeks ago, I was pleased as punch to see it as the dessert for our tasting tour. This time in mango and pistachio flavours, with chocolate wafers. Just as good as I remember, so creamy but not sickly.
A sweet ending to a fantabulous meal.
I love Indian food, it’s the one cuisine that manages to smack you in the face with deep flavours and spices every time and these guys do it really well. You can opt for the Tour of India tasting menu or choose individual dishes from the A La Carte. It’s not only made me want to return to The Mint Room on a regular basis but also travel to India and let my palette compare the culinary delights of the subcontinent.
Can you remember when we used to use the term ‘mint’, when something was really good? Well I’m bringing it back to tell you that The Mint Room is really, really mint.
Thank you so much for having us!