There are some restaurants one always associates with a particular cuisine and they form a benchmark that others of their ilk can only aspire to. Having said that, my love affair with Thai food begins and ends with the iconic Thai Pavilion of the Vivanta by Taj hotel. The Mumbai one is of course the flagship restaurant whose popularity to date, after over two decades, ensures you have to reserve a table before going there. I still remember some very special times I’ve had there with close friends.
When the Thai Pavilion opened in Hyderabad a few years ago, I was thrilled. Entertaining friends who enjoy good Thai food means going to this place. Besides the flawless food, the service is excellent and while you may have a bill that is a bit on the high side, you can guarantee that your guests and you would have thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.
This month, the restaurant decided to hold an unusual promotion. Called Curries and Wine Discoveries, the month long promotion held along with Sula wines serves up several Thai favourites with white, rosé and red wines. Chef Benjamin who is an expert at Thai food cooked up the curries while the executive from Sula wines threw light on the pairing.
Having wine with Thai food is a unique concept and surprisingly, the pairing was done in such a manner that one didn’t overpower the other. You could savour all the spices and herbs in the curries, and then have a sip of wine, and the fruity crisp notes would be refreshing and delicate enough for the tastebuds to register the wine’s bouquet as well.
Served with some jasmine rice, we sampled a few curries with the accompanying wines. Chu Chee Pla, a yellow curry made with a paste of turmeric, red chilli and galangal was mildly spiced and served with a chilled Sula Sauvignon Blanc. The fresh filets of fish in the curry and the crisp white wine were a perfect blend especially on a hot summer afternoon. This one got my vote as the best of the lot – the chilled white wine was a perfect foil to the mellow taste of the curry.
The next to come was the ever popular Thai Green Chicken Curry or the Gaeng Kiew Warn – cooked with fresh green chillies but the overall taste was on the sweet side because of the basil added. This was served with the Sula Chenin Blanc whose fruity flavour complemented the curry.
The Panang Prawn Curry served with the Sula Zinfandel Rosé was another well thought out pairing. The Panang gravy with its nutty flavour from peanuts, and the kaffir lime leaves and the aromatic rosé made this dish an ideal one for a lazy Sunday brunch.
This was followed by the Kaeng Kari – a yellow curry with tofu and vegetables served with a Sula Satori Merlot. Here the flavours didn’t quite mingle so well and the wine I thought was a bit heavy for this curry.
The last one on the list was the Massamman Lamb/Chicken Curry flavoured with cashewnut, garlic and brown onions. It was paired with the Sula Dindori Reserve Shiraz – a full bodied red wine. The strong overtones of the spices were reminiscent of our own chicken and mutton curries – and the Shiraz held its own against the Indian spices. This pairing would be good for people who like red meat and are big eaters.
Like I said earlier, my vote goes to the yellow curry and the white wine. On the whole, I think that white wines go better with this rich cuisine than the reds.
The Curries and Wine Discoveries promotion is being held through all of June at the Thai Pavilion over lunch and dinner where you choose the curry and wine pairing you want and it will be served to you with jasmine rice.
Dessert after such a rich meal was just us being over indulgent but the water chestnut in coconut milk is on my ‘cannot resist even if I am full’ list. My verdict: if you like wine and Thai food, check out this promotion for a good meal that is value for money.