St Leonards on Sea is a winner! As a resident, it’s not every day you get to say that.
A small backstreet Indian restaurant The Taj Mahal serves fabulous, and authentic Indian food. They opened over a year ago, and as soon as we saw the writing on the window “South Indian” and “vegetarian and non vegetarian” it grabbed our attention. Oggling the menu of Dosa’s, Vada, Bonda, Idly, and main dishes of Elephant Yam Curry, Garlic Curry, Lemon or Tamarind Rice, we were in through the door before you could say Veg Thali!
We were their first customers, and we’ve been going back regularly ever since, working our way through the menu, returning for old favourites and sampling the specials menu, taking our friends and generally waxing lyrical about Lakshmi’s cooking.
Having got to know the owners, and eaten many a meal there we arranged for some of our photos, taken on trips to India, to be printed up and framed; a shot of the Taj Mahal, fishing nets on the backwaters in Kerala, mountain views in North India decorate the walls of this little restaurant.
As their success as a restaurant has continued to grow, they have expanded the restaurant to next door, and we’ve been asked to provide some more prints. We have to chose images that reflect South India, that are colourful, distinct, and will reproduce well. We all agreed that we need to think big with distinctive images. One shot is of Krishna’s Butter Ball, Mahabalipuram.
And the Tiffin Cup ? It’s an annual competition to find the best Indian restaurant in the UK and is organised by the MP’s in the Houses of Parliament who nominate restaurants in their constituency. A final shortlist of 12 restaurants is voted for by the MP’s and a “cook-off” is held. And yes, a few months ago our favourite restaurant is the overall winner. Amazing. And as a bonus, Lakshmi was the first female chef to be a winner.
And what did she serve the MP’s? Elephant Yam Curry, which we sampled the night before the contest, gently flavoured and spiced, a quintessential South Indian vegetable dish.
After the announcement we joked that we would have to start booking a table up to 3 months in advance. Today those predictions are coming true, they have taken bookings for 2 months time, plus bookings for Christmas; many of the new customers are from those who heard they had won the Tiffin Cup.
I’m chuffed to bits for them, I just hope we can get a table the next time we visit!
My Mountain Man and I are published photographers! Wooo Hooooo !