High Tea at Taj Lands End, Mumbai

 

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me” – C. S. Lewis

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My journey and fondness for more than just Masala Chai began during my stint in the UK and has stayed with me since. I lived in the North of UK where it’s freezing cold most of the year so a nice cup of pipping hot tea and a pair of warm cozy socks made me the happiest. It’s amazing to see though how seriously the British take their teatime! In fact we used to often joke that refusing a cup of tea in the UK could be considered anarchy ! Jokes aside, some of the most stunning tea parlours can be found in this magical country –

  1. 21 Absolutely Charming Tea Rooms You Have To Visit, by Buzzfeed UK- https://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/tea-for-two?utm_term=.guAawwxGR#.yr2KZZWNg
  2. Best Tea Rooms in England by Conde Nast Traveller – http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/uk/best-tea-rooms

Making afternoon tea a highly fashionable beverage, Portuguese Princess Catherine de Braganza brought the royal court’s favourite drink to the city in myriad flavours and aromas“. The Taj Lands End Mumbai, invites you to sneak into the life of a trend setter and uncover the tales of teas in her treasure trove.

The trend of high tea began when having tea in the afternoon, known as Afternoon Tea for obvious reasons, shifted from the privilege of the upper class to the working class. To bridge the gap between lunch and dinner, afternoon tea began as a mini meal between the two. The working class however could not afford expensive tea and the accompaniments that followed, nor could they drink tea at the same hour. Their schedules allowed them to get home only late evening, leaving them famished, which gave rise to the modern day fashionable, High Tea.

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Says Chef Aniruddha Roy, “The most quintessential of customs observed by Bandra-ites have been acquired by the Portugal and European traditions. Inspired by the ceremonious means of enjoying a good time with family and friends, we have introduced a lavish menu of teas and delectable treats to make afternoons a memorable time of the dayThe most quintessential of customs observed by Bandra-ites have been acquired by the Portugal and European traditions. Inspired by the ceremonious means of enjoying a good time with family and friends, we have introduced a lavish menu of teas and delectable treats to make afternoons a memorable time of the day”. 

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On the Menu:

Cocktails:
Queen’s Bellini – Raspberry infused Prosecco
East Indian Shandy – Infused with raspberry
Curry Leaf Martini – The Highlight of the evening!

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Tea:
Parsi Chai – With a touch of nutmeg and loads of cardamom, and a tad too much milk, but full of aroma ❤

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Snacks:
Scones
Chocolates
Fruit Tarts
Cupcakes (a.k.a. HEAVEN)
Mushroom buns
Mini Cucumber and Chutney Sandwich
Sliders

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These cupcakes are made of from rice flour, coconut and Parmesan cheese ! The saltiness of the cheese cuts right through the sweetness of the coconut making them a big hit.

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The sliders were delicious, full of flavour, a little difficult to eat being that they were a little too tall, but a great way to cut the sweetness of the chocolates, pastries and cupcakes. I was a little disheartened to see the chutney sandwich and paneer on the menu though. I’d have preferred something a little more experimental.

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Besides the lovely food and drinks, I must also compliment the carefully detailed, exquisite decor by the Executive Housekeeper I am told. Look at the centrepieces ! Not to mention we were also treated to the uber famous Taj Hospitality.

This particular Friday evening was most certainly my cup of tea 😉 The High Tea is available on all days of the week at the Atrium Lounge from 3 p.m to 6 p.m.

Prices: Rs. 795 + taxes (Tea High Tea) / Rs 995 + taxes (Tea High Tea and 2 Cocktails)

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Your Perfect Apple Crumble

There are few desserts as warm and comforting as a righteous apple crumble. I’m ashamed to say that the first time I tried one was only 2 years ago(!) when a friend of mine made it for me at University. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten so I just had to share this. It would be rather unfair to keep this all to myself. The one I ate had raspberries and blueberries, but here is his original apple crumble recipe. You can always substitute the apples for berries 🙂
Enjoy!

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Ingredients

For the crumble
300gm plain flour, sieved with a pinch of salt
175gm brown sugar
200gm unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Knob of butter for greasing

For the filling
450gm apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
50gm unrefined brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 pinch ground cinnamon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Watch the rubbing in technique here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW6H_SL_TJo

3. Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir well, being careful not to break up the fruit.
4. Grease a 9″ ovenproof dish. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.
5. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.
6. Serve with thick cream or custard.

Red food colour can also be added for presentation purposes, but I avoid using food colour.

Mum’s Perfect Cup of Masala Chai

Mumbai’s monsoons – just the right time for a cup of hot tea with delicious Batata Vadas.

Granting us some much-needed relief from the scorching sun, the monsoons arrived this June bringing with them the smell of fresh, wet mud, cool winds and not to mention the city’s celebrated potholes, traffic disorders, Tata Sky woes and the flu. But the monsoon season also means we get to enjoy a cup of garam garam masala chai with deep-fried Batata Vadas or potato fritters.

Now, I can boast to you a number of meals that I can whip up in no time. However I am deeply ashamed to admit that I cannot, simply cannot make a cup of steaming hot tea. Pretty sad for a twenty something Desi, huh? I normally rely on Girnar’s ready ginger tea sachets, but the truth is, they’ll never be able to match up to Mum’s version of masala magic. And the best part is that you don’t have to wait for the monsoons to enjoy it.

Therefore, pretty ladies and men who enjoy that perfect ‘cuppa’, I give to you Mum’s Perfect Cup of Masala Chai – the immaculate recipe for an afternoon tea party, a headache, a lazy Sunday or even a hard day when all you want, is to steal a moment for yourself, sit by the window and ponder.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

2 ½ cups water
¾ cup toned/skimmed milk
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp tea powder (I buy local, fresh CTC lose tea)
¼ inch piece of peeled ginger reduced to pulp in a mortar pestle
8-10 fresh mint leaves
6 stalks fresh lemon grass (approximately 3 inches in length)
2 pinches of any Indian tea masala (dry)

Method

1. Put the water and milk to boil. To that, add the sugar, half the ginger and tea masala
2. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until you get the aroma
3. Add the tea powder and stir well with a spoon
4. Bring to a boil 3-4 times, alternately reducing and increasing the heat
5. Check for the perfect medium to dark colour (Refer to the picture)
6. Turn off the heat and seal with a lid for half a minute
7. Open and add the rest of the ginger, mint leaves and lemon grass. Put the lid back on and leave it for another 3 minutes.
8. Strain into a lovely teapot* and serve immediately.
9. You may serve the tea with vadas, samosas, or flavoured cookies**

*Remember, presentation is as important as taste! You do not want to serve your delicious tea in a not so pretty teapot.

** Biscuits are too old school.

Quick Tip: Leaving the lid on your tea for an extra three minutes will help ensure that all the beautiful flavours are sealed in. You do not want to skip this step!

Enjoy!

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