If there is one Indian meal to splurge on while visiting New Delhi, it’s at Varq. I was invited to enjoy a modern Indian lunch courtesy of The Taj Mahal Hotel during my trip to New Delhi for Amazon India Fashion Week. At Varq, traditional Indian cuisine is taken to the next level through thoughtful innovation, creativity, and imagination. It was a stomach stretching exercise of epic proportions as my head and my heart did not want to quit, but my appetite was pushed to its limits.
Swinging open the black timber and ruby red glass doors, I walked through what felt like a life sized jewel box. The intricately carved and painted walls immediately seized my attention, as did the resplendent red beaded pendant drums shimmering from the ceiling. The traditional wall art, created by acclaimed artist Anjolie Ela Menon, contrasted elegantly with the contemporary ambiance of creamy leather chairs, dark wood floors, and gold leaf ceilings — certainly a nod to the blend of food to come.
The Chef prepared a selection from his signature menu as well as a few other unexpected surprises. Just when we thought the meal was coming to an end, another sumptuous dish would appear in front of us, whetting our appetites once again. Each dish was artfully plated with attention to detail. It was interesting to see how traditional Indian fare was given a modern update while still retaining its rich and diverse tastes.
Varq: On the Menu
We started with an Indian inspired drink for a sweet and savory twist. The Teeka Tamarind mocktail was tangy and refreshing with a spicy kick of tamarind powder, enough to jump start the palate.
Our first bite was the Varqui Crab, one of the most popular items at Varq. The smooth and creamy spiced crab contrasted well with the crunchy texture of the filo dough. The succulent tandoori shrimp was the perfect cherry on top. Needless to say I did not leave a crumb (or think about pacing myself). I probably could’ve eaten two of these without blinking.
When the next dish appeared before me, I was easily duped by its foamy coffee appearance. This bit of subterfuge was a tempting trick of the eyes, but a pleasant surprise for the stomach. The Kale Channe ki Cappuccino was not in fact sweet milky coffee, but a savory black bean soup. The deliciously light broth was a good break before the heavier dishes to come.
What followed were two rich and velvety lassi (yogurt shake) drinks, equally refreshing and unlike any lassi I’ve ever had.
A flurry of dishes were set before us, including a perfectly seared Chilean sea bass in a mango curry sauce, a tangy chicken stew wrapped in filo dough, lamb biryani (my favorite rice dish), and an entire bowl of dal all to myself. This was a feast fit for a queen (or maybe an entire harem).
Now that I was thoroughly ensconced in food coma territory, I mustered up a little room for my favorite part of the meal, dessert, featuring a trio of apple kheer, jalebi and khaas malpua. Spectacularly plated, this was a feast for the eyes as well. Tart granny smith apples punctuated the rice pudding along with a bite of syrupy jalebi and sugary sweet pancakes to round out the trio of desserts.
To help cleanse the palate after a robust meal, we enjoyed a cup of the most calming rose tea. Just as I mentioned how this would be a better alternative to my tea at home, the restaurant presented a pouch of rose tea to take with us.
This was one of the best Indian meals I have ever had. Each dish was exquisitely flavored, perfectly cooked, and elegantly presented. Experiencing the meal was akin to opening a thoughtful care package, with one wonderful surprise after another. Dish after dish impressed with complex flavors and unique elements. I highly recommend this experience if you’re looking for something outside the box on your next trip to New Delhi.
This post is in collaboration with Varq at the Taj Mahal Hotel. All opinions are my own.