First published on 2 Dec 2010. Updated on 21 Jul 2011.
Although Tamarind looks like it could be straight off the set of a Bollywood movie, it’s more of a Bend It Like Beckham affair – decidedly Indian in spirit, but aiming to please a much wider audience.
At this latest addition to the Marriott Northeast Beijing, curry fiends may mourn their dry foreheads, but diners favouring more subtle food with an Indian flair certainly won’t be disappointed.
Listen to Chef Kurly, the small man in the big white hat, and order the murgh malai kebab (55RMB). Defi nitely not your 4am sober up and conquer munchies kebab, this cream cheese and cardamom chicken is tender, tandoor perfection.
Well on its way to becoming the restaurant’s signature dish, it’s cooked in the large, lustrous copper tandoors that line the restaurant’s open kitchen, giving the place an antique feel without infringing on the chic of its roomy and comfortable saffron leather booths.
Other tandoor-cooked treasures include the mushroom bharwan (35RMB). Stuffed with fi nely chopped onions, these disemboweled mushrooms pack a crisp, earthy taste into bite-sized portions.
Fans of saucy shellfish will enjoy jinga kadal (75RMB), prawns submerged in a tamarind-tinged sweet sauce spotted with chunks of white onion and green pepper.
The nalli ka gosht (55RMB) lamb shank falls off the bone, but comes bathed in a sauce that mighthave been more exciting if a few plums had been thrown in.
It does however make toothsome dip for naan (10RMB), brought out hot and puffy in plain, butter, or garlic. Service at Tamarind is still a bit patchy. Kingfisher beer is served by an eager to please waitress who pours it with about four inches of frothy head.
As the head sinks into the glass like an ill-fated flan, she promptly returns to the table with the bottle and pours out the remaining quarter of beer into the glass. A bit of practice should easily overcome such small snags.
The rulfi dessert (25RMB) tastes too much like a frozen cube of condensed milk, although gajar ka halwa (25RMB) – made with grated carrots, milk, sugar, and raisins – is a delicious, homey way to end an evening of dining at a high-end hotel restaurant without the high-end prices or attitude.
Uncommon for our friends at Marriott, but refreshing to see what happens when they bend the rules. Roseann Lake
■ Signature chicken kebab............................ 55RMB
■ Mushroom bharwan........35RMB
■ Saucy prawns.................75RMB
■ nalli ka gosht lamb shank............................55RMB
■ Rulfi condensed milk...... 25RMB
■ Savoury-sweet grated carrots.......................... 25RMB
■ Kingfisher beer............... 60RMB
■ Glass of red wine........... 50RMB