Culinary journey of Hindoostan on the canvas of Raj era

New Delhi: Indian cuisine is drawing global celebrities, its latest aficionado being Arnold Schwarzenegger who was reported missing his appointments to gorge on king-size naans and tandoori prawns at Bukhara at ITC Maurya.

The unique journey of Indian cuisine, on show at The Imperial, actually began being chronicled when two famous British landscape artists, Thomas and William Daniell, set about experiencing the rich culture and the culinary traditions of India`s landmark locations in 1786.

The 18th century artists, an uncle-nephew duo, started work in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the east and moved north towards Garhwal. As they travelled along the Ganges visiting Kanpur and the Mughal cities of Agra and Delhi, they captured the spirit and food traditions of these places on the canvas.

They also stopped at Lucknow, then Madras (now Chennai) and Mysore and touched Bombay (now Mumbai) before returning to England in 1794.

Some 150 works of art, aptly titled Oriental Scenery, resulted from this fascinating journey of the Daniells, like the lithograph of Jantar Mantar that was painted from the exact spot where Daniell`s Tavern at The Imperial is located today.

The restaurant recreates this epic journey of Thomas and William across the length and breath of India, capturing some of the finest regional favorites from all those places that left an everlasting impression on their minds.

The new avtar of Daniell`s Tavern traces some of the finest regional fares from the epic journey. These include the East India Soup (Jehangiri Shorba) or Mulligatawny Soup (for the vegetarians), which are excellent orders before the actual `Journey Begins`.

The "First Tour" includes Nawab of Oudh`s Pride (bhune murgh ke parche), Shamiana Prawns (sunheri jhinga) and Benaras Special (tandoori phool). Clive`s Order (kasundi paneer tikka), Viceroy`s Favourite (chicken Chettinad) and Chingri Malai Curry (Bengali prawn curry) are other favourites.

Other similar delights are the Angrezi Sahib`s Choice (kosha mangsho), Burra Memsahab`s Favourite (pepper mutton) and Barrackpore`s Favourite (mochar ghonto). The Shahi Tudka, the dessert with roots, perhaps, in kitchens of the Nizam of Hyderabad, is an absolute must!

The journey of Daniells provided an entirely new vision of the Indian subcontinent and influenced decorative arts and British architectural design. Sutradar "narrator" Pran takes us through the collection of paintings and art at Daniell`s Tavern, established in 1933.

"The Imperial offers an ode to the wonderful journey of Hindoostan and presents this exceptional tour in the form of art and cuisine to diners at Daniell`s Tavern," The Imperial`s senior vice president and general manager Vijay Wanchoo told IANS.

"Thomas and William Daniell may have returned to England in 1794 but they left behind a valuable collection of art, some of which are on display at Daniell`s Tavern."

(Suvendu Banerjee is president and chief executive of Business Images, a public relations and image management consultancy. He can be reached at