On the evening of 14 August 1947, the iconic Taj Palace hotel in Mumbai hosted a grand dinner for some of the most prominent guests present in the city at the time, to welcome the day which would mark India’s independence from British rule, which was barely a few hours away. For those curious about the food that was served on the fateful evening, Delhi’s Taj Palace hotel hosted an event earlier this week, with a view to recreating a slice history through food.
The Capital Kitchen restaurant at Delhi’s Taj Palace is now serving the exact menu that was laid out on the night of the 14 August in Bombay. The aim of the hotel was to curate a menu that pays homage to 70 years of India’s independence.
Back in 1947, the guests at the Taj Mumbai were treated to a sumptuous menu of three courses. Thanks to the ongoing event at the Delhi hotel, which concludes on the night of 14 August this year, we now know the exact composition of that vintage menu. The meal starts with a welcome drink, which is a rose-syrup. The menu just, like the previous one, includes an array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes from across the country, such as the Indian Consommé and Almond Veloute, which were the soups served on that day. (The Indian Consommé is a clear chicken soup infused with cardamom, and Almond Veloute is a smoked creamy soup with cut pieces of almonds.)
The main course involves Poularde Souffle Independence—a three-egg omlette with chicken, Crêpes Aux Épinards À L’ail, Sauce Au Tomates, which is an authentic preparation of Garlic flavoured spinach crepe served with a little makhni gravy, and so on.
While looking at the menu it is clear that French desserts were quite popular with the hotel’s guests back in the ’40s. A range of authentic French desserts were served, and the same are also present in the new menu. Vacherin de peches liberation is the desert made with poached peaches, cinnamon ice cream; and crème anglaise is something which is a must-eat for those who like their desserts with multiple flavours. The meal is rounded up with a cup of coffee or tea, served alongside the choicest of chocolates.
The copy of the old menu was present in the archives of the Taj Hotel Mumbai, and this is where the chefs at Capital Kitchen got the idea of recreating that I-Day dinner from. Chef Abhijeet Thakre describes the process of finding out just the right taste as it was 70 years ago. He says, “The challenge was to find out what chefs were thinking in 1947. We had the freedom to experiment with the dishes and we also asked our guests about the dishes, guests who had tasted this menu. So based on whatever their memory could serve us, we made the dishes. These are French dishes with an Indian touch. This is the best interpretation what we could have had from the available menu.”
The guests, while enjoying the food here this week, will also have the chance to look at the beautifully decorated façade of the Taj Palace, New Delhi. The entire façade will be illuminated in lights matching the Indian tricolour as a symbol of the country’s national pride.
The menu, priced at Rs 1,947 plus taxes, presents an authentic take on the classics served 70 years ago. The special menu is available not just in Delhi, but also at some of Taj’s iconic properties around India: at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai; Taj Palace, New Delhi; Taj Coromandel, Chennai; Taj Bengal, Kolkata; Taj West End, Bangalore; Taj Krishna, Hyderabad, Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad and St. James Court, A Taj hotel, London.
The Mumbai hotel had hosted numerous meetings during the Indian freedom movement. There were talks held in the halls of this historic building, and the hotel was also home to many leaders like Sarojini Naidu, who lived there for a few years. It was from the steps of the Taj Mahal Palace that Louis Mountbatten, the first Governor-General of independent India, bid India his final farewell.
This week, Taj Group hotels will also be offering all serving and retired Indian Armed Forces personnel a special discount of 70% on the Best Available Rate across all their properties in India. This discount will be valid for the whole day on 15 August.