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59 4th Ave
New York, NY, 10003

212-253-1343

Saffron 59 Catering is New York City's premier caterer and event planner specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine. For over 11 years, Saffron 59 has successfully orchestrated memorable affairs with attention to every detail.

Blog

The Taj - My Culinary Experience

Irene Khin Wong


Over the last few days while listening to the tragedy unfold in Mumbai, my heart empathized with the families of the victims and to those who lost their lives. It was at the Taj Hotel Mumbai, the Gate of India, where I received my apprenticeship in southern Indian cooking with a young bright chef Vikram. 

A few years back after one of my group culinary trips, I took a detour and spent five days at this beautiful colonial hotel overlooking the Malabar Sea.

Late every afternoon, after the lunch crowd consisting mostly of international guests dispersed, chef Vikram would bring out tastings of delicious varieties of regional curries, piping hot naan and parathas fresh from the tandoor oven. I would then select a few of these dishes for him to teach me after the hectic lunch hour. The kitchen staff worked long shifts. After lunch, the staff was busy preparing for the dinner menu for the hundreds of guests that come through the Tanjore. This was the time when Vikram took me for a tour of the bustling market to shop and visit stalls from cookware and spices. Coincidentally, the market was located right near the train station where many lost their lives in the beginning of the attacks. 

Keeping track of last week’s horrific events, I could not help thinking of my wonderful culinary experiences with the kitchen crew at Tanjore Restaurant and how this event has transformed the gentility of the people who were passionate about their work and food. Writing this blog brings my senses to the smell of delicious fish curry with sounds of popping mustard seeds and hot chapattis in Vikram’s kitchen. I am sure there will be many fruitful stories like mine to share with great memories of this colonial landmark and that our stories overcome the calamities that enveloped the Taj last week. 
** update August 20,2014- The Taj Hotel Mumbai has totally revamped with all new and modern  restaurants.

Here is a simple vegetarian dish I learned from Chef Vikram

Okra with Curry Leaves

1 pound fresh okra topped and bottomed
10 curry leaves
4 dried red peppers
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 red Serrano chilies sliced thin lengthwise
and cut into 1/8-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt.
Set a wok over a medium heat. Add the oil, toss in the mustard seeds, red peppers and curry leaves cook until the seeds start to pop. Add onion and green chili and sauté until tender.
Turn the flame to high and add the okra, add some water or vegetable stock, stirring constantly for two –three minutes, add spices and continue cooking until okra browns (about 10 minutes).
salt to taste.
Note:You can substitute Asian Long Beans, Cauliflower or String beans.

Curry leaves :
Grown on small trees, the soft leaves are stripped from the short sprigs, use fresh or dried, just sizzle in hot oil to reveal its clear spicy flavor,then add to a finished vegetable dish, great to jazz up seared salmon or red snapper.
  ** update August 20,2014- The Taj Hotel Mumbai has totally revamped with all new and modern  restaurants.