What: When Anna Russell first had a hankering for a mid-afternoon snack we bet that she never thought that her creation of afternoon tea would be reinvented with spicy Indian flavours, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Culinary visionary, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, has created the Jasmine Indian afternoon tea and we went to see if we thought it was worthy of the Duchess’ approval.
New? The tea launched at the start of October but ever the multitaskers Taj 51 has several afternoon teas on the go including a Sherlock Holmes themed one and Alice in Wonderland tea.
Where? In the slightly tricky to locate Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, 51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster, SW1E 6AF www.taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk
On the menu: The menu, created by Executive Chef Sheroy Kermani, is a mix of your local curry house meets a quintessential English pastime; expect options like chicken tikka pantheras, creamy fish masala choux rolls and crispy tikka spring rolls. The sweet side has creations like Rasmalai; creamy cheese cake balls flavoured with chocolate and Gulabi; rose flavoured scones.
The Look: The tables were decorated in accordance to the type of teas being served, the Alice in Wonderland tea was definitely more eye-catching than ours with bright accessories. Our Indian table was much more low-key with a dark red embroidered table cloth and gold and floral plates; there was a lot of attention to detail even to the toothpick in the mini burger together with tiny gems on the end.
What We Ate: The savoury dishes offered various degrees of success and spice. The mini aloo bonda and fig chutney is nice enough but the brioche bun makes it all a little bready, it would have been nice with just a side of fig chutney. The spiced paneer bhurjee puffs were my favourite from this section, they were served warm while the pastry had a touch of sweetness.
The gulabi scones with kismis (raisins) and almonds were served with cinnamon clotted cream and mango compote. The change up from the classic flavours was subtle enough that the hotel wasn’t trying too hard to be different whilst still achieving a separation from what you may expect; both the cinnamon and mango work well together. Gulab jamun is a favourite dessert of mine so it was with bias I tried the gulab jamun cheesecake but it did not disappoint; a versatile doughnut, you can’t go wrong by pairing it with another delicious dessert. The gajar halwa macaroons is another example of a well-paired dessert mixing the classic carrot-based, Indian dessert of gajar halwa with a classic western sweet treat in the form of macaroons.
What We Drank: A host of teas is available but it seemed fitting to go with a nicely spiced chai tea, after all the age-old ritual of tea sipping is an important part in the rhythm of Indian life. Memories of tea were quickly forgotten with the arrival of the salty caramel lassi which is out of this world! It’s a sugar lover’s dream, it even comes complete with a chikki toffee crunch for an extra sugar kick.
Go With: As Anna Russell is permanently unavailable we recommend going with a friend or relative.
Final Word: The Jasmine Indian afternoon tea has fused the 2 cuisines well, there was no point I thought than anything I tried was an odd combination. Everything looked very pretty and our tray of sweets even got an appreciative coo from the neighbouring table but none of the options were exceptional flavour-wise – except the caramel lassi that is.
Like this? Try these: 7 of The Best Afternoon Teas
Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences: 51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster, SW1E 6AF www.taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk