My sister and I were lucky enough to grow up staying at fantastic Taj properties during so many of our travels within India. A gracious charm, over the top hospitality, fabulous service, exotic cuisines; staying at any Taj Hotel meant an ‘experience’ to be savoured.
Cut to a lesser known Taj property within Aamchi Mumbai. Tucked away in the by lanes of the old worldly charming Colaba lies the beautiful Taj Wellington Mews, Taj’s luxury serviced apartments, a home within a home for many (read mainly expats). Comprising of two sprawling penthouses with fabulous views of the Taj dome and the gentle Arabian Sea beyond on one side, and of the Cooperage greens and the Oval Maidan and the Rajabai Tower on the other, this property also has many two and three bedroom apartments, a perfect home if you need to stay in our city for a week or a year or many years!
This pet friendly place boasts of a beautiful swimming pool, a state of the art gym, a lounge bar, the quaint Weli Deli complete with fresh groceries for sale, the signature Jiva Spa, a delightful children’s room, and to me the one most important thing, a security of its own which is second to none! No wonder it is home to many Consul Generals.
Cut to the new gastronomic delights being offered at the Weli Deli. Keeping in mind the festival season, Executive Chef Shrutika Koli, trained under the eagle eye of none other than the legendary Hemant Oberoi himself, offers a sumptuous Maharashtrian thali, a veritable feast for the eyes first, and then the stomach. We firmly believe that it is the eyes that taste the food first!
A beautifully laid out table complete with marigolds waited for our motely bunch of invitees. As conversation veered around the many aspects of what else, food, out came the bearers in their resplendent turbans, with stunning silver thaals filled to the brim with Chef Koli had crafted with love. The thalis brought back memories of the Tanjore of yore at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where we often used to dine as children on parents’ birthdays, enjoying the Indian classical dances.
We tucked into the hearty fare from different regions of Maharashtra, and marvelled at how the humble potato bhaaji had been turned into a haute cuisine dish. The stuffed vangi (brinjals) were saturated with local condiments, and the aamti (daal) was just right, sweet, sour, and tangy. The kothmir vadis from the Konkan region with its perfect texture needed a second helping, they were so delicious, but the accompanying tomato chutney needed probably four helpings by each one of us. The Kolhapuri thecha (a type of hari mirch chutney) came out later, much to our delight. The masala bhaat was so perfect in taste, it did not need any accompaniment of a daal or kadhi. We are vegetarians, but the non-vegetarians among us vouched as much for the Chicken Kolhapuri. However, all agreed that the piece de resistance was the combination of piping hot, fluffy puris, to be eaten dipped with the smooth as silk shrikhand, served beautifully in a piped swirl and garnished with strands of saffron. The humble Maharashtrian fare had been turned into nouvelle cuisine.
Since we Indians mostly eat our dessert with our meals (the shrikhand here), we were delighted to round off our hearty thaali with hot ginger tea, aka ‘cutting chaai’, served in the small lined glasses in the manner of our friendly neighbourhood ‘chaaiwala’.
Needless to say that while the residents of the apartments are tucking into this delicious local fare, Mumbaikars must reserve a table at the Weli Deli in the coming days to relish this local fare in the stylish way only the Taj can serve. The thaali is available throughout the month of August and is a steal at a price of Rs. 1480/- all inclusive.
Oh and did we mention that for the first time we felt as welcomed as do the foreigners in our country as we were greeted with a tikka and aarti as we entered? Or that we were greeted by the affable General Manager Mr. Anmol Ahluwalia himself? And that at every corner of the property, members of the staff smiled and greeted us warmly? And that the entire team at Taj Wellington Mews dined with us?
We finally have the perfect word for the Taj Experience, which we spoke about at the beginning. It is TAJNESS!
Do experience it, again and again.