Pieces Of A Wunderkind's Mind

Snippets of Life, Love, Food, Travels, Discoveries, and Whatnot

Masala and Dreams

on November 16, 2010

In search for remarkable Indian-Mediterranean cuisine, I accidentally discovered, around this time last year, this inconspicuous 24-hour restaurant along Aguinaldo Highway, smack in the middle of Tagaytay City. Taj of Tagaytay, as the restaurant is called, is actually part of Andanita Taj — a bed & breakfast/inn located a few meters from the Tagaytay Zoo. Aside from adherence to perfection, the [Taj’s] founders’ love of Indian and Middle-Eastern fare made it possible for them to source supplies of the finest spices from Mumbai and Delhi in India to Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan and from other cities throughout South and Southeast Asia. I’m talking about quality Mediterranean food here… no blandness, just distinctive richness. So if you’re tired of the usual Tagaytay food, Taj would be your best bet.

al-fresco dining area

Click menu to enlarge

Aside from the delicious food, Taj offers access to the magnificent view that is Taal Lake and Volcano. In case you don’t feel like dining al-fresco, you can always choose to eat indoors and still enjoy the picturesque scenery via the lounge area. The casual ambiance of the restaurant adds to the overall R&R experience it aims to provide. Clients can also take pleasure in shisha-smoking as Taj has hookahs available upon request.

lounge area, overlooking the lake

Taal Lake and Volcano

The lounge area is glass-encased for an optimal panoramic view.

water bongs/hookah

Their menu is quite extensive and I had a hard time choosing what to get for snacks. When I finally made up my mind, I asked for their Roti Chanai, a Malaysian flat bread that originated from Kerala, South India. The menu says it’s highly recommended and goes perfectly with Chai tea. The waiter kept emphasizing that as well. Accordingly, I got a cup of Chai with my bread.

Roti Chanai [P150] is a round, flat bread composed of dough containing copious amounts of clarified butter, egg, flour and water. The entire mixture is kneaded thoroughly, flattened, oiled, and folded repeatedly. Finally, the dough ball is flattened, coated with oil, and then cooked on a flat iron skillet with lots of oil. Imagine a crusty crepe/pancake — flat, fluffy on the inside but crispy and flaky on the outside. It had a nice hint of sweetness [think Bisquick] and a trace of saltiness suggestive of butter. I fell in love with this bread on the first bite. The waiter advised that I get a bowl of curry dip [P100] to match the roti so I did. It gave a burst of flavor when taken with the bread. Roti Chanai and the curry dip was, indeed, an awesome twosome. The only drawback: I found the soup bowl of curry a tad expensive at P100. Besides, a small dish/saucer of it would suffice. By the time I consumed the whole order of bread, there was still so much of the curry. Nasayang tuloy.

The cup of Chai [P65], brewed tea with a mixture of Indian spices and herbs, was just okay. There really was nothing special about it. I personally think, CBTL offers way better Chai items on their menu. Nonetheless, the tea went well with my roti-and-curry snack as it neutralized the rich spicy flavor of the curry. You can request for packets of brown sugar to adjust its sweetness.

Then came dinnertime [yes, I stayed for the night] and off I went to the main dining area. There weren’t a lot of people in the restaurant at the time. The place appeared different. Lighting made the whole place a lot cozier. I took some shots before I looked for a table. Here they are:

The sight of this always makes me wanna belly-dance. Haha! *enter Bollywood music*

I felt like having Mutton Masala [P360] for dinner and I paired it with buttered Basmati rice [P180]. Also, I got a glass of mango lassi for my drink and rose kulfi for dessert.

Mutton masala is a curry dish of roasted sheep meat in an exquisite red or orange-colored sauce. The sauce is creamy, lightly spiced with turmeric powder and paprika powder and contained tomato puree, giving it its red-orange color. To make this dish, sheep [the mature ones, not lamb] chunks are marinated in spices and yogurt then baked in a tandoor oven, served in a masala [“mixture of spices”] sauce. I think my masala was rich, flavorful, and spicy. The mutton was really tender. The whole dish was divine!!! I will definitely come back to Taj for this dish. I say this is well worth your 2-3 hour drive from Manila.

Lassi [P75] is a popular and traditional South Asian yogurt-based drink. It is made by blending yogurt with water or milk and Indian spices. I ordered a tall glass of mango lassi. I enjoyed it a lot. It was like drinking ripe mango shake blended with Yakult. By now, I think you know how I adore Yakult so this drink’s good in my book.

blurred, sorry!

Kulfi [P125] is a frozen milk-based dessert from India that is often described as “traditional Indian ice-cream”. It has similarities to ice cream in appearance and taste, but is, in truth, denser and creamier. Unlike Western ice cream, kulfi is not whipped, resulting in a solid, dense frozen dessert similar to traditional custard-based ice-cream. It comes in various flavors but that night, the only available flavor was rose . So I got that… I was left with no other choice. If not for the flavoring [and that rose syrup], I would have liked it. It was a sweet, creamy confection with hints of, again, Indian spices. It was deliciously different. But what should’ve been a delectable delight turned into disastrous dessert. It was just like I was munching on actual rose petals. Smiley It tasted so… uhmm… floral! I didn’t finish it. I’d love to have kulfi again, but on my next purchase, I’ll make sure to get the fruit-flavored ones like the the mango kulfi I tasted at The Kebab Factory, which I really enjoyed.

Aside from the restaurant being open all day, Taj offers free Wi-Fi [no minimum purchase required]. You’ll get instant connection without having to order anything but why not eat there when their food is too good to miss out on? Truly, Taj of Tagaytay is a hidden treasure just waiting to be found. There are a thousand and one exotic spices and a symphony of flavors for you to experience here… Indian, Middle-Eastern, and Asian fusion at its best!

Taj of Tagaytay
5059 Aguinaldo Highway [Cavite-Batangas National Highway], Laurel, Tagaytay City
Contact Numbers: 0919-821-6931 and/or 0932-645-9587
Email: tajoftagaytay@yahoo.com.ph



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: