One of The Cambridge Curry Communities most detailed reviewers Ben Anderson is back with his expressive take on The Taj Tandoori.
“Happy new year to all my fellow curry lovers. I realise it’s been quite a while since I posted my last review soo I felt it about time I released a new one below:
There are moments in one’s life when something exceeds expectations to the point of being etched in the memory and reminisced about for years after and the story often re-told (I’m sure all you foodies reading this can relate). One such moment of the culinary variety happened to me on an unassuming November evening when suffering egregiously with the man flu (for probably the first time in at least five years).
Whilst sneezing and coughing like a banshee, I decided that I needed some light relief from the onslaught of the unrelenting virus and what better way to distract myself than with a good ruby murray? On this occasion I decided to be brave and break away from my go-to choice of Mo Malik’s (reviewed earlier last year by myself) , instead opting for the highly acclaimed Taj on Cherry Hinton Road.
I remember trying this place many years ago and not being overly impressed back then. This time, however, all of that was about to change. Out came the smartphone as I loaded the delivery application and had a browse through the rather inspiring and contemporary looking Taj menu.
What initially impressed me was just how much diversity was present in their menu showcasing dishes I’d seldom heard of, along with the usual British classics such as your Tikka Masala’s and Jalfreizi’s etc. There were fusion dishes and even Chinese influenced dishes as well, not something you normally see at your run of the mill McCurry house.
Feeling somewhat audacious this time around, I deviated from my usual failsafe of a Chicken Tikka Masala/Bhuna or Rogan Josh and opted for the pulled chicken tikka fusion burger with masala chips instead. I proceeded with the order and lay in wait, my taste buds poised with anticipation in the hope that I wasn’t about to regret my decision for being adventurous and trying something new.
Around 45 minutes later, my order arrived in a piping hot paper bag which inside contained a large cardboard box (which I was delighted to see as opposed to an all too common plastic one). With great alacrity, I proceeded to open the box, my stomach churning away with hunger, and immediately (despite having a fairly blocked nose) I was hit with a waft of smoky, fragrant aroma’s enticing me to dig in.
What sat in front of me was, on the face of it, a simple burger and chips, something that would be otherwise fairly uninspiring. This though, was far more than simply a humble burger and chips that you’d find an abundance of in most cities. This was a burger with complexity, imagination, perfect execution and above all fabulous flavour combinations.
In terms of visual aesthetics, the chips had a beautiful golden crust covered with an ample coating of masala spice and the burger (upon unwrapping) was generously filled with all kinds of delights spilling out of the sides that I couldn’t wait to dive in to. The sensory overload was already present before having even tasted the food and like a hungry hippo I took my first and somewhat colossal bite of this generously filled bun. What followed was a moment that I wouldn’t forget in a hurry; I was instantly hit with what can only be described as an explosion of flavours and textures that danced on my tongue like Michael Flatley on speed. The brioche bun was soft and rich; this was followed by the subtle creaminess of grilled paneer cheese and moist and succulent pulled chicken in a rich and mildly spiced tikka marinade.
Top this off with a crispy onion bhajee, tangy chillinaise, pickled red cabbage and a beautifully smooth tamarind sauce and you have a complexity of flavour here that takes you on a voyage of piquancy. Everything in there was perfectly balanced, nothing got lost and you could taste every element independently. Couple this with the beautifully crispy and fluffy masala chips that had a wonderful mouth-watering coating of mild masala spices, without the typical greasy texture of most chip portions commonplace of other Indian restaurants in the area, and you have an absolute winner.It’s not often that my first bite of an Indian meal can evoke such a strong and positive emotional response, but this is a rare exception as it delivered far beyond my modest expectations.
Brother’s Syed and Jalal who run the Taj have created something very special here; a modern and contemporary eatery that is clearly focused on offering its diners something unique and different with twists on the classics we all know and love.
The attention to detail and use of quality ingredients puts this in the upper echelons of a very crowded market. I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t already, give this place a try and I guarantee that this will fast become one of your go-to establishments.
Score: 9.8/10 – Up there punching with the likes of Mo Maliks and The Navadhanya (review to follow). Innovative and delicious Indian food that firmly places itself upon the elite in the City”.