It is not every day you get the chance to have dinner in an old boys grammar school right? We had the pleasure of trying the new Indian summer tasting menu at Baluchi, at LaLit London. LaLit is part of a India based luxury hotel chain that has expanded overseas to London and they chosen a wonderful location to have it too. The hotel itself is located near Tower Bridge, which may be a odd place to have a new London hotel. However, when you see the property itself, you will understand why it is so special.
You are welcomed by a perfect looking exterior with a classic gravel drive way, with manicured bushes and lawn. As you enter the hotel, it really comes to life. The little architectural touches speak for themselves, offering a lot of character to the hotel. As it was previously a school, they have kept the theme of the calling bedrooms ‘classrooms’ instead, which I think is something truly unique and specific to this new and upcoming property.
We started our evening with a glass of champagne and canapés on the second floor’s terrace, that overlooked Baluchi restaurant down below.
We also had a perfect view of the bright blue chandeliers that hung above the Baluchi restaurant. I was completely in love with them, because each of them had travelled a long way from India. Where they were hand blown, painted and perfected. I’m a sucker for interiors that have been hand crafted and have such elegance too.
We had the pleasure of having a tour of the different ‘classrooms’, the traditional Indian spa and the outdoor terrace. Once we were out there, we couldn’t help but enjoy another glass of bubbly until the restaurant were ready for us to be seated. Not many hotels have the pleasure of having an outdoor seating area, especially not with a view of The Shard too.
The terrace is sponsored by their house champagne, Pommery. Nothing but the best for the guests at LaLit London – cheers!
We were ready to start our dinner at Baluchi, so we all gathered a long table that was set up right in front of the kitchen. We found our seats and were ready for lovely Indian themed summer tasting menu.
We started with an amuse bouche of steamed chickpea cake with tamatar ka shorba, which is like a spicy tomato soup with tangy flavours. I remember growing up with steam chickpea cakes, which I call ‘dokra’ – my mum used to make them during the month of Ramadan for us to break our fast. It was a bit like a blast from the past having it at Baluchi, but a real treat too.
The first dish was bharwan zucchini served with mushroom ki galauti. The mushroom ki galauti was so soft and tender, made with various ingredient including cashew nuts and almonds. The zucchini flower was my favourite, which was stuffed with a ground up paneer with what tasted like coconut. A very unique dish that I throughly enjoyed.
Each of the courses were paired with wine that would enhance the flavours of the food and work well together. Chardonnay Oakridge from Australia was paired with the zucchini flower. The wine boasted a lovely golden colouration and the wine itself had citric notes of grapefruit and lime.
The next dish was tandoori salmon that arrived in true fashion. It had been smoked and the smoke had been held in within a glass cover to offer a theatrical entrance at the table. The tandoori salmon was my least favourite dish. I’m not a huge fan of seafood but I generally like salmon, however it was too fishy for my liking. The dish was paired with Kozlobvic Vina Malvasia from Croatia.
There was a mix of an interlude from the hot dishes and we were served up a light and refreshing fennel and pineapple sorbet. It was the perfect way to break up all the spice but also it’s nice to feel cool throughout a meal during the summer months.
The next dish was definitely another favourite, the zafrani malai murg which is tandoori marinated chicken that has been chargrilled over hot coals. So, so good. It was paired with Les Terrestrial Basses de Labelle wine from France.
The penultimate dish was then served, baghara baingan. It is eggplant that is normally stuffed with a spicy masala curry with coconut, sesame seeds and tamarind. However, in this case chef used paneer instead and it was just as delicious. The dish was served with some lovely crispy flatbread, plain and turmeric infused rice too. The eggplant was paired with another French wine, Chateauneuf-du-pape.
To wrap up the meal on a sweet note, we were served bhapa doi with paan ki kulfi. It is baked yogurt curd, a typical Bengali dessert that is often served at weddings and special occasions. It was served with paan kulfi, which is made from beetle leaves. Paan is a traditional way to finish your meal in the Indian culture, which is made with a base of beetle leaves, areca nut (we call it sopari) with various other herbs and spices. It is then wrapped up and chewed on. It’s rather delicious as a treat and I prefer mine sweet. The dessert was also paired with a French wine, Beaumes de Venise Domaine Lapigeade Rhone.
Overall, a wonderful tasting menu at Baluchi. I tried many things that took me back to my childhood and tried many new takes of various traditional dishes was great. The service was fantastic, especially as the chef himself checked on us various times throughout the meal.
I look forward to returning again and seeing more of the LaLit hotel over the summer months.
Until next time…