Findus - a milky affair or one to savour?
After months of fevered anticipation and meticulous planning the day of the inaugural Oakham Curry Club Global Meet had arrived. Twelve intrepid haute cuisine connoisseurs representing 4 of the 5 OCC branches, assembled in Bangkok for an exemplary North Indian tasting journey at the highly respected, and much lauded, Indus.
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by Yash, our maître-d who swiftly ushered us through to the tastefully decorated yet understated dining-room. More than a few of us remarked on intricately carved wooden door frames, and other Rajasthani antiques.
The soft, ambient lighting provided an air of intimacy while the arrangement of tables offered a sense spaciousness, and tranquillity. This was clearly a restaurant that prioritised comfort over functionality; where a meal is to be savored and enjoyed.
Wisely, our prepared table was set in an alcove slightly apart from the other diners so as not to disturb. The table itself, was neatly laid; our seating assigned courtesy of exquisitely designed OCC place names. Embossed menus detailed the treats we had in store.
Dinner was a delight, the Signature Tasting Menu. Six courses from various parts of Northern India paired with a curious selection of Italian wines; two whites for the entrees followed by a red to accompany the main course.
Following welcome speeches, introductions and poppadum, our meal got underway.
First up, that crowd-pleasing Delhi favorite, Papri Chaat. Although the size of the serving left something to be desired, the perfusion of spicy, sweet and sour flavors, combined with a crunchy texture whetted appetites admirably.
Regrettably, the Agricola Punica Samas (Italy 2017) was served late so we could not judge how well it would have complemented the dish. Nevertheless, this silky and well balanced white, named after the Punic God of the Sun, played nicely on the palette as we awaited our next course.
The Kebab-e-Malai, marinated chicken served with cashews, cardamom, cream and cheese, is a dish best eaten hot, however, just as the first succulent slivers were to be cut, lengthy musings on all things OCC began by a particularly vocal delegate.
Commendable, of course, but pity the chicken. Lukewarm. The chicken…not the speech.
One of our party’s concerns regarding the age of our next delicacy, the Tandoori Tiger Prawns, were allayed once it was pointed out that 2016 on the menu referred to the wine vintage, and not the seafood. The wine in question, Zuani Vigne Collio (Italy 2016), did come under some scrutiny, however. Deemed rather bland by some, it failed to sufficiently enhance the smoky aroma and mild mustard and cheese flavors so carefully fashioned by the chef.
A highlight for many of the assembled, was the Raan Sikandari. A dish originating from the Indus Valley, consisting of slow cooked mutton on a “flaky yet fluffy, crisp yet soft flat bread” drew copious appreciative murmurings.
A second helping was entreated. Clearly flattered by the request, Chef Amit duly dispatched a portion twice the size of the original serving. Adequately ensuring that all those fancying further mutton mastication received a share.
And so, to the main course; a three dish treat consisting of a delectable butter chicken, a creamy palak paneer, and bonus, not-on-the-menu, a spicy Rajasthan curry; specially prepared by our Rajasthani sous-chef.
Accompanying these delights was a soft, light saffron rice and a variety of savory naan. Shrewd negotiations at time of booking resulted in Indus offering all the naan we could eat. A huge naan was produced to rapturous applause.
Glasses were replenished with the vibrant and racy Proprieta Sperino, Costa Della Sesia, Uvaggio (Italy 2014). A most pleasing red; offering a fruity zest offset by polished tannins and bright acidity. Fine drinking, though perhaps a tad immature? Well paired, nonetheless, with the brash and flavorsome unnamed Rajasthan dish.
For those not yet sated from their gorging, one weak and enfeebled member of our group came to their rescue. Citing dizziness and nausea, caused, no doubt, from the excesses of the afternoon’s Songkran festival, his plate was offered to the ravenous hordes and quickly devoured.
Pudding was a milky affair, Kulfi & Gulab Jamun. Pleasant enough; as was the Ayurvedic Chai though claiming a cup of tea as a course seemed a bit of a stretch. Several members must still be wondering where their sixth dish got to.
With a final round of Kingfishers ordered, the esteemed curry enthusiasts began their voting. Would Indus receive sufficient points to warrant OCC approval? Of course it would.
Customer Care scored highly. The additional serving of Raan Sikandari, abundant naan and refills of wine did not go unnoticed. Yash and his team were extremely attentive throughout, and several visits from Chef Amit hinted at a genuine concern for our dining enjoyment.
Quality received impressive marks too and rightly so, the Raan Sikandari, Rajistan curry and butter chicken were outstanding.
Atmosphere rated well, though Service did leave something to be desired. An introduction to all the dishes, with perhaps some history behind them would have enriched the evening. Similarly, a sommelier on hand to explain the wine selection and pairing would have been instructive. Perhaps then the waiter may have understood to serve the wine before each course rather than afterwards.
It was never going to be a cheap evening, but the general consensus was that despite the excellent customer care and exceptional quality, the price was somewhat “punchy”. Value received the lowest score. This reviewer, however, felt he had got his money’s worth.
With the final tally at 7.6, the Indus of Bangkok was OCC Approved. The coveted OCC sticker was presented, and one hopes will be displayed prominently and with much pride.
May your poppodums be crispy, your be tasty and your curries spicy.
OCC, OCC, OCC