The right kind of fragrance can only enhance the taste of your food. An ongoing food promotion at Taj Palace applies this factor to good effect

After my recent encounter with Dhuan and Dum festival where the food was smoked with traditional Indian spices, it was time to challenge my taste buds and my sense of smell a bit more. Taj Palace’s iconic European cuisine restaurant presents the exclusive Perfume Festival, where the sensorial feast stylishly marries the olfactory and the gastronomic adventures as Master Perfumer Nicolas De Barry travels with olfactory creativity through exotic destinations of the traditional Orient Express. Nicolas along with the executive chef Rajesh Wadhwa of Taj designed a four course meal for the month-long promotion. But according to me the exercise posed more of a challenge to Chef Rajesh to create a perfect balance of fragrance and flavour in the food and create a dish. It took Chef Rajesh two months of experimenting to finally come up with the festival. But in the end the result was quite satisfactory. I sat comfortably at the refurbished Orient Express while Nicolas took me through the world of fragrances and explained how he paired the food with the fragrances.

My journey with the perfumed food began with a Madagascar vanilla bean scented baby leeks soup. I deliberately took the petite cup close to my nose and smelled the vanilla scent. But Madagascar vanilla was much more redolent when I took a sip of it. Apart from the fragrance, I liked the taste and texture of the soup too. Soup was followed by sandalwood smoked Balik Salmon with bergamot dust oil. Salmon was fresh but the bergamot flavour was stronger than the sandalwood and hid it completely. My entrée was scallop, baby lobster in carrot emulsion and lemon oil. Beautifully plated dish tasted good but had very subtle flavours of lemon. Emitting the typical sea food aroma, which I love, it overpowered everything else. Before moving on to the main course Nicolas very aptly placed a rose petal sorbet in between which helped me to clear my palate and have a refreshing feel. Sorbet was spectacular having a cooling effect. Honey glazed chicken was bursting with lavender fragrance and gave the white meat a soothing effect. Lamb steak was perfect but I could only trace the glandiflora when I almost finished chewing the steak, right on its edge. Much awaited dessert berry frangipane tart with salted butter caramel was beautifully plated but sans fragrance. On my request Nicolas sprayed the vanilla scoop with agar wood scent and it tasted quite refreshing and yummy.

(The Perfume Festival is on at Taj Palace, Sardar Patel Marg, New Delhi till April 30. The dinner menu is priced at Rs.7000 per person.)