Lohri Food Festival at the Taj Wellington Mews

Venue: Weli Deli, Taj Wellington Mews, 33, Nathalal Parikh Marg, Cusrow Baug Colony, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai
Dates: 10th January onwards
Price: INR 1200 plus taxes

Authentic Punjabi flavours have found their way to Weli Deli at the Taj Wellington Mews, as Executive Chef Shrutika Kohli conjures a decadent menu to celebrate the festival of LohriChef Kohli allows you to traverse through the festive lanes of Punjab with scintillating flavours of dishes such as Paneer Butter Masala, her signature Dal Makhini, Punjabi Samosas, and the quintessential Sarson Ka Saag with Makke Di Roti. 

The festival of Lohri which falls on the 13th of January every year is celebrated popularly to mark the end of winter. However traditionally, it is associated with the harvesting of rabi (grain) crop, therefore making it a harvest festival. Punjabi farmers are known to view the day after Lohri as the beginning of a new financial year. The festival is celebrated in full fervour with a bonfire and traditional food items such as Makke Di Roti and Sarson Ka Saag along with sweets like Gajak.

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The Taj Wellington Mews brings to Mumbai the Lohri Food Festival for the entire month of January. We were invited to a lip-smacking preview a couple of days ago. Since we eat Indian food almost everyday at home, we don’t usually opt to go out for the same. Chances of eating authentic Punjabi food are even lesser, therefore we weren’t going to miss out on this dinner!

We were as always, greeted with warm Taj hospitality by Mr. Shibu Nair (Director of Sales & Marketing) and the lovely Ms. Kaizeen Davierwalla (Asst. Sales Manager). The weather Gods were favouring us that evening with a cool, crisp air, allowing us to sit out on the deck which undeniably added to the charm of the evening.

Conversations revolving around food started flowing and I forgot how famished I was. I remembered only when the gorgeous thali came out filled with several traditional dishes. The thali comprised of Punjabi samosa, paneer butter masala, sarson ka saag, makke di roti, paratha, jeera rice, dal makhini, gajar ka halwa and raita along with sweet lassi.

My favourite dish was undoubtedly the saag with the makki roti. This was only the second time that I’d ate traditional saag and it just seemed to warm my soul. The fact that it was so beautifully cooked with all the right flavours, allowed to it melt in my mouth. The roti too was perfectly crispy. I am not a fan of paneer butter masala either because most restaurants get this wrong by either serving rubbery paneer or with a mix of too many spices making it pungent, or both. This dish had just the right amount of butter, not too rich, blended with just enough masala. The paneer however was a tad rubbery but considering the masala was so delicious, it could be ignored. The dal makhani was as always decadent and coated the jeera rice perfectly. Radish had been added to the paratha to give it an unusual texture and mava to the gajar ka halwa. I find that most places tend to over sweeten the halwa, which is not how it should be enjoyed. Chef Kohli got it just right, making me a very happy taster! 😀 Oh and of course, the sweet raita, to cool down the stomach after such a heavy meal!

I recommend you, fellow Mumbaikars, to have this experience especially since we are having a somewhat blessed ‘winter’ with cool evening almost every night. Chef Kohli’s thali will certainly warm your soul and leave you wanting more!

Book your table today at 022 66 574 331. You will thank me 🙂

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Luncheon at The Taj Wellington Mews: Jevan Zaala Ka?

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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!

Master Bedroom 1

Master Bedroom

Living Room

Living Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

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.

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Taj Club and Jiva Spa

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!

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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?

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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.