At Mumbai’s Talli Turmeric, the humble haldi has taken the onus to bring a touch of sunshine to diners’ plates. Serving up a whole range of Indian regional cuisines, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, the menu puts turmeric under the spotlight.
For Tapan Vaidya, Founder and Mansij Vaidya, Founder Partner and Mixologist, the idea of conceptualising a turmeric-based restaurant was their humble way of paying homage to the wonder spice. “What ties all our regional cuisines together, regardless of the ingredients that go into its making, is the liberal use of the humble spice, turmeric. It is a rare dish that makes no use of turmeric.” believe the founders explaining the premise behind the restaurant.
Designed by Sumeshh Menon, the artwork displayed at the restaurant's entry walls, kitchen and the washroom area draw upon Indian motifs. The eye-catcher is, however, the custom-designed ten-foot-long communal table seated in the centre of the restaurant, illuminated by a bright yellow light. To put simply, the spice, turmeric, has been gracefully incorporated into the design of the space by picking out its colour, making it a design element and using it throughout.
The kitchen is helmed by Chef Fareed Qureshi, who specialises in North Indian dishes, and Chef Arasa Kumar, who specialises in South cuisine. The duo has created a menu that boasts flavourful ingredients, fresh produce and artfully paired spices.
There’s no hiding from the fact that this place narrates the story of haldi and its importance in Indian culinary landscape. It is remarkable the amount off care taken into ensuring the authenticity of dishes on the menu, irrespective of which part of India they hail from.
Doing justice to Uttar Pradesh’s street food scene is the Banarasi Pakoda Chaat – chaat made from crispy brinjals, potato, capsicum and spinach pakodas. Served over some curd and chutney, these pakodas are best enjoyed when eaten by hands with our hands.
Next came the Vazhaipoo Vada, crisp fried vadas made using banana blossom and chana dal and the Kakori Kebabs. The vadas, a Tamil speciality, were crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. In our opinion though, nothing beats the raste walla anna selling hot idli-vada and dosa. The melt-in-the-mouth kebabs were good, but their accompaniment, the green chutney was even better!
Main course was a lavish affair where Kairi ki Bhindi, their signature vegetarian dish, truly stood out. Along came Karaikkudi Kalaan Thokku, a mushroom masala roast prepared Chettinad-style, and Dal Tadka Meraji, which is chef Meraj Ul-Haq’s own take on the OG dal dish.
The accompaniment of choice was a steaming bowl of Jeera Rice. This warm comforting meal reminded us of ghar ka khaana. The Talli Turmeric’s rendition of Goan Fish Curry with rice also deserves a special mention. The pickles – Louki ka Murabba, Chilli Mustard pickle and Amba Haldar—added that zing to make the meal even more memorable.
However full one might be, there is always room for dessert. The Kavuni Arisi , black rice pudding, was warm with the perfect balance of sweetness. Daredevils that we are, we paired the desi pudding with their motichoor and modak flavoured ice creams. The combination may be over-the-top but for all you lovers of desserts, it was bliss!
The cocktails at Talli Turmeric, Vodka Mastaani and Imli Sour, pushed the envelope with the use of unusual ingredients. But they were lacking the potency that would’ve taken the drinks to the next level.
As an establishment dedicated to a singular ingredient, we expected the menu to highlight how turmeric is used uniquely in each dish. It was disappointing to see a lack of experimentation in using turmeric in its varied form – the root, fresh turmeric or even turmeric leaves for that matter. While the menu is definitely longer and pays ode to unsung regional eats, it is still restrained by most standards. And because of that Talli Turmeric comes across as gimmicky by not really allowing the wonder spice to shine.
While Talli Turmeric is definitely helping colour the foodie landscape with a brilliant hue of yellow, it has yet a long way to go. The plus side: This restaurant, in all its Instagram glory, is what millennials’ dreams are made of.
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