Fit for a Queen

Posted on Back of House Jan 2011 - by Tandoori Magazine
Fit for a Queen

Mango Lounge is a contemporary Indian that's been wowing them in Royal Windsor. The restaurant's head chef Ashwani Kumar talks to Tandoori about his cooking

Talk to any good chef or restaurateur and they will tell you that ideally, they would like to be located in the centre of London. Failing that, with location being all important, it helps if you are in a city or town that has the kind of client base that has spending power.

Windsor and the areas surrounding this Royal Borough, of course, boasts some of the most expensive and desirable housing in the UK and one can't doubt that it helps that one of the Queen's official residences, the Windsor Castle, is also here. For any restaurant to have such a fitting locality is prestigious in itself, but it seems that, of the scores of Indian establishments that are in this town, Mango Lounge has been drawing all the attention.

At the heart of this popular restaurant, which opened in 2007, is its head chef Ashwani Kumar, whose CV includes such credits as The Cinnamon Club in London, along with stints with the Oberoi and Taj groups in India.

"Right from the outset," notes Kumar, "the notion of the restaurant was to have something that was uniquely different. Putting aside the fact that there are a host of Indian restaurants here that are offering very similar menus, even the non-Indian places are very much geared towards the typical high street brands. There is hardly anywhere distinguished to go here in Windsor to dine, even though it's such a fabulous town."

When Mango Lounge first opened, the menu was ambitious to say the least. Aside from the a la carte, there were several accompanying menus and the cooking veered towards to adventurous and very high-end. But some judicious thinking aside and with the assistance of Indian food writer Mridula Baljekar, who acts as a consultant to the restaurant, the menu has been streamlined.

Though there are a number of innovative dishes that offer flair and the chef's signature, the changeover has been towards more north Indian fare and dishes that are more in tune with what the public likes in Indian restaurant menus, albeit authentically rendered.

"If you are based in a city such as London," says Kumar. "you can afford to be innovative and more upscale, but the moment you go elsewhere, you have to be sensitive to people's tastes and the fact that they may not be as experimental as one would like them to be. So you have to give them what they want, but at the same time you have to ensure that flavour and authenticity, partnered with fresh ingredients and produce, come to the fore. In addition, I have also tried to bring in more regional influences. Ever since we made the changes, I'm pleased to say that our business has gone up by 25% which, is very good," he said.


Sample Dishes - Mango Louge

-Spinach and Feta Cheese Samosa
Spiced with roasted cumin and chilli, and raisins
-Saffron-scented Asparagus Soup with Cinnamon and Cardamom
-Chilli Scallop
Seared scallops with chilli, chives and coriander, served with green pea mash

-Butter Chicken with Spinach
Char-grilled chicken tikka cooked in the clay oven and simmered in a fenugreek-scented tomato sauce with spinach
-Lamb Shank Rogan Josh
A new twist on this classic dish where lamb shank is simmered in a rich onion and yoghurt sauce with Kashmiri chillies
-Lobster Curry
Marinated lobster tail cooked with garlic, lemon, chillies, cashewnuts, pine nuts and basil

-Mango and Passion Fruit Brulee
An Indian twist on a classic French recipe. Served with mango kulfi
-Warm Dark Chocolate Mousse
Spiced with cardamom and served with passion fruit ice cream

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