Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Mediterranean Experience at Souk

A Mediterranean Experience at Souk 

A good culinary experience takes time to prepare and needs time to be thoroughly enjoyed. 

I was invited as part of the Kolkata Food Bloggers for a tasting from the upcoming menu at Souk - the Mediterranean restaurant at The Taj Kolkata which would be on the offer very soon. To be honest the only experience I have had at Taj Bengal was at their European restaurant which serves some of the best Continental fare in town and then of course there is La Patisserie with excellent pastries and gateau on offer. So good are the offerings from the two mentioned restaurants that I did go back for the pastries and pizzas and got stuck with these two restaurants when there are so many lovely restaurants at The Taj as I found out today.

The delectable Mezze 

It was an experience which was educational and a sheer pleasure for my taste buds and created a want to go back again and again.

Located at The Taj Bengal , Kolkata the decor with its low lighting and the beautiful yet modern chandelier gives the place a soft touch. As soon as we were all gathered together we were served the Wine Rosette which I found appealing for my taste buds.

We begun our Mediterranean culinary journey with the amuse bouche which is essentially a French term for mini starters  in the simplest words that I might put. In this case it had the essential Mediterranean flavour with a  bite sized watermelon and  a dollop of creamy feta cheese.

Here I have to mention that I am a cheese addict, and I love feta cheese but its saltiness usually has to be balanced well and the chef had wonderfully balanced the saltiness of the feta with the fresh juicy watermelon and it was a sheer delightful start indeed .

To be fair each and every food item was exquisite but what I personally enjoyed was the detailed explanation of each and every  dish which made the experience more interesting.

The mezze on offer was superb . There was hummus of two different kinds. So while the Hummus Turki with its chopped piri piri olives was smooth with the particularly delightful taste of olives the Hummus Bil lahm with the lamb morsels was exquisite. The secret behind their smooth texture is the usage of the even sized chickpeas which the chef takes extra special care to make. The lamb used is not the lamb with a lot of fat but the lean meaty portions which gives it a beautiful texture.

The Felafil caught my fancy with its grainy texture and the distinct taste of garlic and cumin. There is lamb kibeh, stuffed with mince meat and pine nuts  which I personally did not find to my liking because of its dryness .

The crunchy Swada Dilaj is tangy sweet and beautiful. The Tabbouleh has cracked wheat and parsley but the taste which stayed in my mind was that of the mehir lemon. Tangy and fresh it is delightful but not something I would personally highly recommend. From the assorted pita bread I chose the zatar Pita bread which has the herb zatar and that with the hummus is something worth giving a try due to the very unique flavour from the herb and the smooth hummus.

There then came individual plates of assorted grills. The chef was kind enough to interact with us and discuss how even though Indian kebabs have their origin in the middle eastern grills the spread on offer is unique in its own way. Unique indeed, the Adana kebab (lamb kebab) was soft with a firm texture and that tantalizing taste of turkish chili which is hot but does not leave you in tears. The fish (samak Meshwi)  with the base of tomato marination was tangy and spicy . By the time I took a bite of the Tavuk Yogurtulu Bitlis I was probably in need for a break to cleanse my palate and as a result I do not clearly remember its  taste but I definitely recommend the Adana kebab with its delightful flavours and a subtle after-taste of Turkish chilies.

From their main course I would personally recommend the Moussaka for the perfectly baked aubergine which was delightfully thin yet crispy and the buttered Burghul was a sheer delight for the senses. The samak Moroccan (which is a pan fried fish dish) is delightful indeed with a tangy taste from the lemon and a blend of assorted spices. The lahm tagine had the softest lamb meat ever and the preserved lime gave it a beautiful taste of pickled lime and the chickpea gave it a lovely body.

The pasta which was not on the menu from which we had our tasting but is on the regular menu was delightfully tangy and very different from the usual Italian counterparts since it is from a different country. The prunes in the tomato based sauce gives it a lovely touch.

The delightful spread of dessert 

My favourite bit was their offer of desserts. Creamy rose petal ice-cream , it not the rose flavoured ice-cream but ice-cream made with pure rose petals. The Omali which is a delightful combination of in-house made condensed milk , filo sheets and pistachios was surprisingly not too sweet for my palate and the baklava though a tad sweet for my palate was a delightful dessert indeed, nutty with the crisp  filo sheets  was a true Mediterranean experience, indeed. We ended our meal in a true Mediterranean way with some mint tea which definitely helps in digestion.

All their ingredients are imported from the Middle east and so for an authentic Mediterranean culinary experience I definitely recommend The Souk. What I personally would specially recommend are their kebabs which are full of flavours , light on the stomach and utterly soft and delicious. And you simply cannot miss their spread of desserts.

Good food does not and cannot come cheap so indulge in some luxurious treat but that which gives complete value for your money. A delightful experience would set you back approximately by Rs3000 to Rs4000 for A la Carte (where you choose from the dishes mentioned above)

This is part of the experience from the Kolkata Food Blogger's team.

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