A Taste of Indian cuisine

When the craving to have a taste of Indian cuisine (or for the curious ones) hits you, the only place to go to in Palau is Taj Restaurant, located right across the old OEK building.
Taj Manager Robert Scaria said the latest offering they have for the customers (it’s not yet in the menu) is the Thali Set, a splendid feast and a taste of the real “India” all in one round platter.
While waiting for the Thali set, Robert served us papadum, a round, chips-like crispy appetizer served with different dips. It comes in regular or spiced flavor, and is always a complimentary for all orders.
I was not hungry but the Thali set teased my tastebuds beyond control. It was enough to feed two people, served a round tin plate, with tiny tin plates inside carrying several mouth-watering concoctions. Thali set comes with a serving of fried and spiced saffron rice, a slice of garlic bread and a whole Bhatura, a deep fried puffed bread excellent for dipping. The tiny tin plates contained chicken barbeque from the clay oven, shrimp chttinadu (shrimp cooked in spicy gravy with fresh Indian spices), buttered chicken swimming in tomato-butter cream, goa (coconut-flavored) fish curry, lamb sag (spinach with lamb meat), and adu gobi (cauliflower and potatoes). For $22.50, you can have a complete set of Indian cuisine with a choice dessert. A very satisfying meal.
Robert added lamb vindaloo, which is tender lamb cooked in a goan-inspired curry, prepared with vinegar, garlic and green chillies. He warned that it is VERY hot and told us to go easy. I had to drink two glasses of water straight after sipping though. It was very hot indeed.
For dessert, we had Gulab Jamun, a sweet concoction of milk powder flavored with saffron rice and poured with syrup made from milk, honey and sugar.
The first time I visited Taj restaurant, I envisioned that meals are eaten where customers sit on the floor or on very low stools, sometimes on a cushion, eating with the fingers of the right hand. The restaurant is just like any restaurant, except that the moment you step into the room, a completely “Indian” atmosphere will engulf you.
Taj also serve house wines by bottle, glass or by shots, cocktails including with intriguing names like B52/Blow Job, Sleeping Grasshopper, Brian Tumor, and Sex on the Beach. Robert prepared a glass of Green Breeze cocktail for me and Island Ice Tea for my buddy.
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Last month, Taj started offering the use of traditional waterpipe- the Hukka. This has become a craze and already popular in other parts of the world, with both men and women finding great pleasure in smoking.
For $20, five or six customers can enjoy coffee and share a smoke using the waterpipe with sisha or flavored tobacco. They come in Jasmine, Rose, Peach, Benan, Apple, Mint and Cherry flavors.
Curiosity pushed me to try the waterpipe Robert prepared with Jasmine- flavored tobacco. It has a pleasant taste, not like the regular cigarettes. Next month, Taj will be extending it’s balcony to the public and customers will have the chance to eat their meals or a cup of coffee, swap stories, pass the time or simply relax and enjoy a smoke from the waterpipes.
Published in Island Times, November 16, 2006 issue

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