The Naan’ery Experience at Baluchi truly was a real experience. No standard bread bar here. We learnt all about naan traditions and techniques on how to make them. We even got hands on rolling our own, before tucking into a four course bread menu and tiffin tin. Here’s the lowdown…
Baluchi is a pan-Indian dining destination at the Lalit London hotel, which can be found in the historic Grade II listed former St. Olave’s Grammar School, near Victoria. Baluchi takes the space of what was the Great Hall – The high ceiling, royal blue colour, dark woods and beams, floor to ceiling windows and chandeliers give it a truly sophisticated, regal feel. On absolutely stunning location. The service at Baluchi just added to the sophisticated premium feel, being super friendly and passionate. We were introduced to Chef Jomon who was to talk us through the Naan’ery experience that evening, as well as our host who introduced the wine for each course. Both made sure we were happy throughout.
Chef Jomon deserves his own shout out however. He’s a lovely guy, who’s humour shines through as does his passion. He told us tales and stories from India, as well as the history to naan and tiffins (they’re lunch boxes with different levels which used to be shared among colleagues/friends at lunchtime). You could see his passion for the food, and his team, shine through throughout the whole evening. He even introduced us to part of the team, highlighting that menu choices are always a collaborative effort which we loved. What’s more, he even let us know that if we have any questions about cooking Indian cuisine at home, just to let him know!
On to the Naan’ery experience itself…
The Naan’ery experience menu at Baluchi consists of four courses of bread with accompanying dips and wine, followed by a tiffin to share.
We were sat at the bar, or the bread bar if you must, right at the front of the restaurant. It’s the prime spot for watching the breads being prepared and listening to the tales from the naan master himself, Chef Jomon. There’s even a tandoor oven right there too! We actually got to go behind the bar to try our hand at rolling out our naan bread, filling, flattening and getting them ready for Chef Jomon to bake in the tandoor oven – it’s super hot! It was a fantastic experience getting to help and see it all up close – Chris did win with his speed at rolling his to my disappointment (sore loser!).
Then for the tasting part…
The breads were all served in portions of two small breads, with a dip and accompanying wine. The breads were all oiled, served warm (SO GOOD!) and to be enjoyed with your hands – yes, it’s totally ok to just get right in as Chef Jomon let us know.
The first naan course is a fig and cheese kulcha. Made with grated paneer, it gave the naan a creamier finish overall, rather than just little pockets of oozy cheese. Whilst the fig added a slight sweetness. The taste wasn’t too powerful, but it was still delicious. It came with a potent coriander dip, and the slightly sweet and herby flavours complimented each other well. The wine paired with the first course was a fantastic fresh and slightly citrus champagne, which went beautifully with the milder flavours and the coriander too. One very well paired dish.
The second naan on the menu is porcini and truffle. It’s a delicate balance of earthy truffle and nutty mushrooms, making it the definition of umami (a flavour which enlightens all the taste buds in the mouth). It arrived with a potent tamarind dip. I thought this might overpower the dish but this surprisingly complimented the mushroom well – with just a little on each bite. The paired wine for our second course was a smooth, crisp MS Fratelli White. Another great pairing.
A blue cheese naan takes the spot on the third course.
Made with a french blue, it’s not actually too strong, instead the cheese adds a nice creamy touch and delicious underlying flavour to the naan. his bread is the what changed Chef Jomon’s mind on blue cheese, and if we weren’t told (or couldn’t see the breads being made), we wouldn’t have known it was a blue inside! A tangy tomato dip came on the side of this naan course, and it was absolutely delicious. It gave the course a kind of pizza taste, with the cheese and tomato coming together. This course came with a MS Fratelli Red. It was full-bodied, with tannins, making it quite potent. We thought the wine was fab, although perhaps could have had a slightly lighter variety to go with the cheese.
The final naan course was a sweet option – think dessert bread. A coconut and mango naan bread, it reminded us of peshwari, subtle-y sweet, our favourite bread to order. The coconut and mango naan is served with a fab red berry/cherry dip, making it even more sweet. The paired wine is a small glass of Muscat de Beaumes Devenise. It’s a sweet dessert wine which is very sweet and incredibly moreish. We couldn’t get enough.
After the naans comes the tiffin, filled with Butter Chicken, Dal Baluchi, pilau rice and carrot halwa. The butter chicken was our fave – tender chicken breast pieces in a smooth, creamy and aromatic butter-y curry sauce. The lentil dal was packed with flavour too. Whilst the texture of the pialu rice was perfect, cooked beautifully and very fluffy. The sweet and stodgy carrot halwa made a delicious end to such a feast.
If you fancy more drinks…
There are 2 bars on-site with Baluchi too, both named after the rooms they now inhabit – the Headmasters Room and the Teachers Room.
The Headmasters bar offers cognacs and champagnes, whilst the teachers bar offers cocktails and mocktails. There’s plenty to choose from if you fancy an additional drink or two.
The Kashmiri Garden was a beautiful sweet cocktail, with Jasmine tea infused rum, Lavender syrup, Italicus Rosolio, rose water and fresh lime juice. It wasn’t overly floral but had a subtle rose touch. It was a delicious start to our naan feast and wine.
The Indian Summer, made with Sipsmith dry gin, homemade chai tea syrup, Nardini rhubarb bitter, fresh lime juice and ginger beer, was a little more tropical and bitter, yet just as tasty. The flavours came together to form one super summery cocktail. Again, a great start to our feast, but it would have been enjoyed just as much at the end too.
There were a few more cocktails on the menu which took our fancy. So it just gives us an excuse to head back sometime.
- Price: The Naan’ery experience is priced at £55 for one or £99 for two. For the amount of food, drink and the overall experience, it’s not badly priced – great for a special occasion!
- Food: The naans themselves, as well as the tiffin, were all packed with beautiful, creative and well-thought out flavours and absolutely delicious.
- Drinks: The wines were beautifully selected and well-paired. The cocktails were fantastic and left us wanting more.
- Atmosphere: a restaurant in one of the most stunning locations with fantastic service which radiated their passion for the concept/restaurant as a whole.
- Wait: It wasn’t that busy when we visited, but we were told it does get so. So do book if possible.
How good do these naans sound? Have you had any naan bread with creative flavours before?
*I was invited along to review as part of the East London Girl team.