It’s not everyday one is invited to Windsor, the home of The Queen. A beautiful town just outside London with so much history, a place that’s great to go to for a little escape from the hustle and bustle of London. However, this time I’m invited to try the Gourmet side of Britons favourite take away. Indian. Now, Gourmet food I can tell you much about, having eaten in the world’s finest restaurants, winning the World Cookbook Award and having worked for Le Cordon Bleu there is many a Michelin starred Chef in my little black book. But gourmet Indian? Best bib and tucker on, and a strict talking to the other half we jump on the train at Clapham Junction and arrive just outside the Castle at the Mango Lounge Windsor.
Being Northern Irish, hospitality is something I know well, and something Indian culture prides itself in, but what does come to mind is an oily puddle on top and below every course, spicy food that burns more than once and a cuisine I simply don’t like. However its always rude when invited to say no, my mother brought me up better than this, so off I go, raita in pocket!
A beautiful restaurant with fine table cloths speak volumes to me, but overlooking not any old castle, rather the home of the Head of The Commonwealth just before Christmas its no wonder I was surrounded by tables filled with couples. I’m all about clever flavours, new ways with food, something to talk (and write about) and a lasting experience. All of that was provided over the next 3 hours. Indian hospitality offers me a menu, I ask for the chef’s recommendations, colours arrive that would light up any Diwali night. Eat with the eyes first and what a feast of the senses.
Chilli scallops could be on any global cuisine menu, but at the Mango Lounge they were so creative, the dish won best signature dish at the National Curry Week Competition, beautifully pan fried, perfectly just off opaque, juices sitting in tiny pearl drops all over served on a spiced green pea mash and chilli jam. The pea mixture had a texture that offset the gentle elasticity of the scallops.
Another award winning dish, the Chettinad Chicken claimed to be aggressively spiced, and the description was true. A chef was thinking here, it was mellowed with yogurt and cucumber, just as a string set mellows the brass section in an orchestra. All served in an onion and tomato sauce.
A rose petal chicken korma sounds divine, and soft and flavoursome it was too. Succulent chicken in golden saffron sauce with creamy coconut and cashew nut puree gave a natural sweetness garnished with rose petals.
I nipped outside as mother was phoning, a chap and his mates wanted a table without booking, the place was full. They were surprised they could not get a table by just turning up. One said “lets go down the road and get an Indian takeaway then”. The word philistine came to mind. Mind you, I’m not one to judge. I just thought this is like no Indian I have ever experienced before, no fat, not oil, just the best of modern day British food cleverly done to entice, romance and remember. Flavours with colours. They go together like good video and good music.
Another award wining dish arrived, Tiger Prawn Martini, layers of coloured chutneys with huge prawns on top, sweet and fruity, tangy and savoury all topped with a layer of Martini. It looked just like the iconic turret on the castle I was looking at as I ate.
And as for the prices, the low side of fair. A clever team that would be lost in the constant pomp of the London restaurant scene. Date night is about talking, and, what’smore romantic than a little train trip to get there and home again? Ok, it’s SouthWest Trains, but, time alone, together. That Indian God/Godess of love may have been smiling. The Indian God of cooking certainly was. But then again, what do you expect? Mridula Baljekar is their food consultant.