Take a trip along the length of the Grand Trunk Road at Taftoon

From the delights of Kandahar to the gems of Chittagong, Taftoon is an ode to gastronomic authenticity and innovation

Take a trip along the length of the Grand Trunk Road at Taftoon

The Mughal empire is a pretty extensive topic in our high school history books. We’ve all heard of the Grand Trunk Road (or GT Road), one of Asia’s oldest and longest routes, making its way through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and north and eastern India before finally ending in Bangladesh. And taking you on a journey of flavours through the cuisines of these countries is Mumbai’s Taftoon Bar and Kitchen. At Taftoon, you can view food as a vibrant embodiment of history and storytelling, a vision that resonates through the enticing journey woven into their menu.

The founders—and brothers—Pankaj Gupta and Avinash Gupta, along with Chef Nilesh Singh have crafted a menu that captures the core of Indian cuisine, skillfully blending traditions and techniques from the northern frontiers to the eastern shores. From Aushak (Afghan dumplings) of Kandahar to the Qureshi Kala Bhuna Biryani from Chittagong, Taftoon celebrates India's rich heritage by bringing it all together under one roof in Mumbai.

People who have been to Taftoon will recognize the simple green door that holds a world full of wonderment and flavours beyond, unfolding the true essence of India's culinary history. The revitalised interiors, embellished with grand motifs set the mood for a distinguished yet inviting dining experience. Opulent shades of green, blue and burgundy envelop the surroundings in royal sophistication, while earthy textures evoke the spirit of the region.

What we tried
Once seated we were welcomed by a kulhad (earthen cup) of Kashmiri Kahwa, a humble beginning to a royal 10-course meal that was soon to be laid out in front of us. We started our meal with Thetuk —a dish brought to you straight from Himachal Pradesh—which is a Tibetan-inspired stock with hand-pulled noodles. Honestly, as someone who loves warm, cosy bowls of soups, this was a great start. Second, on the menu was Boti Ghee—a dish discovered in Bihar Sharif—consisting of melt-in-the-mouth mutton, barbecued and finished with spiced ghee. Following it up, was the Zafrani Qursi Kebab, a dish native to Iran, sporting a rich aroma while being one of the most succulent chicken kebabs I have ever tried. This meal also featured a Sirkedaar Mirch Paneer—a recipe born on the highways of Ludhiana— that I recommend my readers to try. Since this was going to be a big meal, I tried not to finish the entire portion, but guess what? This grilled paneer, marinated with roasted Kashmiri chillies and brown garlic was simply irresistible.

Moving on, we then celebrated Jammu’s pride with some Kalari and Arugula Khachapuri, a flatbread inspired by East Europe, baked with fresh Kalari cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh arugula. We also tried Aushak—a Kandahar favourite—which is essentially leek and onion dumplings, served with a refreshing garlic yoghurt.

If you couldn’t already tell, this meal so far already had me unbuckling my belt and excited for what was coming next on the table.

What worked for us
Being a Marwari, daal baati, litti chokha and baati chokha have always been close to my heart. The baati, ghee wali daal (dal laden with ghee) and tomato chutney took me straight to my hometown in a nostalgic journey.

As Pankaj Gupta talked about two types of nihari recipes made during the Mughal era, one being for the royals and the other for the common man. For the sake of our dining experience, he chose Dastar-e-aam for us. This robust and rustic aam aadmi Nihari came right off the bone and is a must-try!

Heading towards the finale of this lavish meal, we were served the Dak Bungalow Chicken, a dish credited to the British-era guest houses of Bengal. And to end this wholesome 10-course meal on a sweet note, we were served with a big Tokri (basket) of assorted Kulfis boasting many crowd favourites like mango, tender coconut and more! We also tried Srinagar’s favourite Gooey Walnut Brownie, made with dates and honey-soaked Kashmiri walnuts.

The final verdict
The experience offered at Taftoon is exactly what they promise. Every dish you try here will take you straight to its place of origin through its authentic flavours. Bringing recipes from the old trade routes to your plate, if an adventure through the vast GT Road is on your bucket list, your visit to Taftoon Kitchen and Bar will definitely not disappoint.

Address: Naman Center, Opposite SIDBI, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai
Contact 77770 76563 for reservations!

Ananya Gandhi

Ananya Gandhi

Ananya grabs at every chance she gets to spend time with strangers listening to their stories, painting or reading some romantic-thriller novel almost everywhere. Her love for food encompasses everything from crispy fried chicken to a creamy cheesecake. And this combined passion for food and creativity, paired with a knack for social media enables her to make some fascinating content for her Instagram.

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