A culinary journey through the sub-continent
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A culinary journey through the sub-continent

From the streets of Mumbai to the Himalayas, Tapori on Sukhumvit 47 showcases the rich tapestry of India’s gastronomic heritage

A culinary journey through the sub-continent

To say that the repertoire of India cuisines is vast would be an understatement. Turn a corner on any Indian street, anywhere in India, and you’ll not only find a different language being spoken, but also a different culture that comes with its own cuisine.

The sub-continent’s landscape is matched by its diversity; 28 states and eight union territories, each corner of these with its own unique culture, language and culinary traditions. The food has been shaped by a history of invasions, trade routes, colonisations (there have been more than the one) and the varied religious and cultural practices of its inhabitants. However, these cuisines have rarely made it out of the sub-continent. 

Tapori on Sukhumvit 47 has changed that. Bringing a slice of the best of Indian regional cuisine to Bangkok, the restaurant’s name is Hindi slang for “wanderer” or a loveable, street-smart rascal. It reflects the journeys of the chef-patron Rohit Sharma, who compiles dishes from across India that are largely undiscovered by Indian and global palates. 

The interiors blend modern elements with traditional Indian accents; the main door is a 200-year-old wood door from Rajasthan. From the geometric patterns of Warli art and the tribal motifs of Bastar to the detailed narratives of Madhubani and the vibrancy of Pichwai art, each storied art form celebrates India’s unique visual language. Do look out for the towering hand-cut mirror mosaic of a preening peacock and a 32-foot long oil on canvas of the backwaters of Kerala. 

Following the interiors, at Tapori Indian cuisine is reimagined. It is where chef Sharma and head chef Anirban Chowdhury showcase the versatility of Indian cuisine. “The entire idea of Tapori is this wanderer travelling across India, sampling its offerings and picking a dish from the state he’s in,” says chef Sharma.

“The dishes that Tapori has on the menu either me or two of my chefs have tried. Between the three of us, we have been to a fair amount of the states. Though there are dishes that are close to our hearts. Like, for example, my counterpart has picked a dish close to his mother, which is the Mochar chop,” adds chef Sharma.

The Mochar chop is from West Bengal and is a crispy potato and banana blossom croquette, the ultimate Bengali party pleaser, served with mint chutney. Another chef has picked a quintessential dish from Gujarat, which is where he is from, called Undhiyu. This is a traditional mixed vegetable dish, spiced and served with a fenugreek and millet flatbread known as “methi bajra thepla” and a spicy garlic chutney.  

“We had to balance the menu; our initial draft was almost 300 dishes, because we did pick up a lot of regional specialities and not just the dishes we tried. Those 300 were cut down to 50 dishes, depending on the ingredients available and supply chain demands. The final menu has 25 dishes, of which 12 are vegetarian, with four desserts. The restaurant also caters to vegans, with advance notice, and a few dishes also cater to the Jain community’s dietary requirements.

A breakfast dish from the mountains of Himachal Pradesh is Siddu. It is lentils-stuffed steamed buns served with a zesty “til ki chutney” or a chilli-sesame chutney, and “teesi ki chutney” or a nutty flaxseed dip. Though you can also request for chicken instead of lentils.

The Gobhi musallam is a grilled cauliflower from Uttar Pradesh and is Tapori’s take on the classic dish. The creamy, roasted cauliflower comes with whole roasted beetroot. However, this dish takes inspiration from chef Sharma’s trip to Tulum in Mexico, where at Hartwood Tulum restaurant he ate a roasted beetroot with avocado. “Ever since I ate the dish, I’ve wanted to go back to Hartwood and eat the beetroot. It is that good! Since beet also plays such an important part in Indian cuisine, I wanted to put this dish on the menu,” adds the chef. 

A taste of Kashmir, the Tabak maas uses New Zealand lamb ribs simmered in milk, ghee and spices. It is served with a walnut yoghurt dip and apple relish called “doon chetin” in Jammu and Kashmir. The dish is part of the renowned Wazwan buffet in Kashmir, which is a meal traditionally prepared to serve the Royals of Kashmir during special occasions. 

A meat not seen in most Indian restaurants outside India is pork, though Indians do eat their fair share of pork. A dish from the northeastern state of Tripura, is Wahan mosdeng. The traditional salad of pork with “timur”, which is the Indian Sichuan pepper, has finely sliced onions, ginger and coriander. The simple salad was once made by the Tripuri community, who are indigenous to Tripura, for festivals and special occasions. Traditionally it uses wild boar. At Tapori, the dish uses pork, onions and cabbage, garnished with lotus root.

Apart from pork, a large number of Indians also eat beef. Hence, Tapori also serves Beef ularthiyathu, which has its roots in Kerala. It is a staple dish in the southern state and is a spicy beef chilli fry cooked with coconut and curry leaves, served with a Malabari paratha.  

Indians eat a lot of millets and the Bajra khichda is a staple in Rajashtan, Haryana and parts of north India. The lentil and pearl millet porridge is infused with onions, garlic and yoghurt served with ghee and spiced papad crumbs. Delish! 

The Masur tenga is a dish that is integral to the Assamese thali. The name translates to “sour fish” and it is a home-style Assamese fish curry served with a traditional fermented dry fish chutney and timur spiced rice. 

Last and not the least would be a dish close to my heart. The Pork vindaloo at Tapori is cooked Anglo-Indian style. The Anglo-Indians are people of mixed-race origin, generally with Indian and British ancestry, with their own culture and cuisine. Being an Anglo-Indian, I am immensely happy to share that Tapori’s version is one of the best vindaloos outside my home kitchen. At Tapori, the spicy hot and sour pork curry recipe of Portuguese origins comes from the recipe books of Anglo-Indian families of Kolkata and is served with Goan “poee". 

If you have room for dessert, the one to try would be the Benami kheer, which comes from Uttar Pradesh. The dessert is a modern interpretation of the traditional and the fun is in guessing its main ingredient. No Googling! It is a legendary dessert from the royal kitchens of Awadh and was once a lost recipe, the name translating to “pudding with no name”. It wasn’t given a name because the chefs did not want to reveal the ingredient. A true taste of Indian history. 

Once done with dinner, wander over to the speakeasy bar for more Indian spirits and fun!  

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