As a Brit, I am extremely skeptical about eating Indian food outside of England--renowned for good curry eats--and India. In Chile, furthermore, I have heard nothing but comments warning me against the Indian here.
So naturally, I was extremely nervous when my flatmate suggested trying this "sensational curry place" one Sunday afternoon. Much to my delight, the Majestic Hotel proved me wrong, along with everyone else who damns Indian food in Santiago.
Tucked away in the prestigious Majestic Hotel lobby in downtown Santiago is the small, intimate yet statuesque Indian restaurant. The high, noble walls are decorated with a calming, dark green accompanied by a delicate gold pattern and scattered artifacts. A sense of India’s mysticism creeps through the characteristic meditative music. Distinctive smells of spices leave you anticipating the culinary journey ahead. When combined, these three elements let you blissfully unwind in the authentic Asian ambience.
While the menu does not swamp the diner with choices, it offers simple traditional Indian dishes. For seekers of the ultimate chili hit, start with the pakodas – crisp, fluffy, fried balls of onion, chili, coriander and ginger. If you cannot stand the heat I highly recommend the samosas, one of India’s great gifts to the world. The savory, delightful little patties are filled with spiced vegetables and encased in a crunchy baked pastry. Both of these starters are served with two cooling salsas: mint raita (natural yogurt mixed with fresh mint) and coriander dip (crushed coriander leaf blended with olive oil and garlic).
The main courses include a range of aromatic curries from the mild, smooth, exotic coconut korma to the fiery, vicious vindaloo--warning: tears will come!
For something in between, try the softened, tomato-based madras curry, topped with spices and a chili twist. All curries offer you the choice of chicken, lamb, fish, prawns or vegetables. Tandoori dishes are also Majestic’s specialty: snappy, sizzling marinated meats on a scolding hot plate, they also make for quite a spectacle. Share your meal with fragrant jasmine rice (one order is enough for two), and do not miss out on the immense selection of the thin and crispy naan breads. Enjoy these courses with a glass from the Majestic’s decent wine list.
The desserts are not traditional but indulgently neutralize the palette after such strong, punchy flavors. One must-have is the almond or pistachio ice cream made with evaporated milk, which creates a hard, thick texture that just melts in your mouth and allows the sweet essence to be slowly absorbed.
One let down was the chai tea, a popular Indian beverage. What should have been a soothing, sweet-smelling, aromal milky drink with cinnamon was instead a dark, bitter and undrinkable concoction.
The service, however, was impeccable and full of smiles. The prices are no more than CP$7,000 (US$10.30) for a main dish, which is well worth the pleasantly surprising quality of food and overall atmosphere.
If you avoid the chai, you will taste the true India.
The Majestic Hotel
Santo Domingo 1526
Book for reservations on Friday and Saturday nights: (02)6958366