The Taj Mahal (meaning Crown Palace) is one of the most beautiful monuments built by the Mughals in Agra, India. Built entirely of white marble, its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description and qualifies it as one of the eight wonders of the world. The Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his dear wife and queen, Mumtaz Mahal.
It is this stunning Indian land-mark that Shobhina and Rajesh, who have been living on Aruba tór 9 years now, have decided to name their newest venture after. As they say it is indeed "the only thing that Aruba was missing."
On an island that has any and every type of restaurant imaginable, we were short of a typical Indian restaurant, a restaurant serving a wide variety of the tastes of homemade Indian meals. The Taj Mahal, simply decorated in burgundy and reds (the color of joy) with beautiful hand-embroidered quilt-like tapestries, is off to a great start.
Opening night, Monday, coincided with a very important Indian New Year's Day celebration, which marks the beginning of a much celebrated traditional nine-day festival. Shobhina tells THE NEWS that this is a very good day to start business.
|The essence of good Indian cooking revolves around the appropriate use of aromatic spices. Most commonly used are turmeric, cumin, ginger, pepper, garlic, coriander, cloves and curry. The food is usually very hot and spicy and the recently arrived chefs had to learn to lighten up on the use of hot spices, especially for the Arubans and tourists. The flavor certainly does not suffer under this, I can attest to that, as my chicken tikka was simply marvelous.
Guests have a choice of degree of spiciness, as they can order their favorites to their own taste from mild to extra hot.
I inquire about the string of flowers attached to the front
of the special tandoori oven, Rajesh tells me that according to tradition,
the oven is blessed with a prayer and a small ceremony, including the
string of flowers and the breaking of a coconut on the oven.The tandoori
is a clay oven, fired by charcoal members. This more modem oven has
a stainless steel body surrounding the tandoor for safety and convenience.
The heat is 800 degrees (!), spread evenly throughout the clay of the
tandoor. Marinated meat is placed on skewers and laid inside the
The succulent juices from the meat drip onto the burning charcoals and mingle with the smoke to produce a delicious aroma, which is reabsorbed in the meat, producing the ancient flavor of authentic tandoori cuisine. Rajesh tells me that even the bread, the "naan," is baked in this oven
|The Hindu vegetarian tradition
contributes greatly to this menu, making it a true vegetarian's dream,
offering the largest selection I have seen on the island. More than
13 different vegetarian dishes are offered, as appetizers, entrees and
Taj Mahal is open from 12 noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. for dinner. The menu items are very attractive, the prices reasonable. Food and snack catering services are available.