25 Jul 2014

‘Gate to India’ at Intercontinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel, Cyprus

Having made its grand opening in June this year, Gate to India is Intercontinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel’s latest delectable dining outlet – a valued addition to Cyprus’ fine-dining scene.

Modelled on the successful worldwide Blue Elephant franchise, (indeed Sherin Alexander-Mody, executive director, Blue Elephant Group was part of the pre-opening team as a consultant) the stunning restaurant adheres to the brand’s standards, all the while merging traditional taste-bud tantalising Indian recipes with a local, Cypriot twist.

The result was inspirational.

Attending a press-only event, the venue was sealed off exclusively. Tables were joined together in preparation for the vast amounts of food to be indulged in.

Gate to India is an outdoor outlet, with the seating all set under a wooden gazebo, adorned with exotic red curtains. Nestled in a corner of the illustrious resort, the aroma of the kitchen teased one’s appetite, and with a background of atmospheric music, Gate to India provided an aesthetic of the country, effectively transporting the diner to India.

With a set menu outlining the range of the restaurant’s fabulous offering, and also the various spice levels of its curries, I was able to sample dishes from the various Indian frontiers – with a Cypriot twist being the standout feature.

Of the wide range of starters prepared, three dishes made an impression on me: the Phaldari Chaat – a salad of pineapple, grapes, melon, pomegranate, potatoes, avocado and chickpeas served with a Tamarind dressing, ensured an appetising taste experience; the establishment’s Samosas were spicy and delicious; the Halloumi Pakora featured a twist on the traditional Pakora as it was made with local Halloumi cheese, fried in chickpea batter and served with mango chutney. For me, this was the most appealing starters, as the Halloumi represented a fresh take on traditional Indian cuisine, something I had never experienced before.

The main courses were equally delightful to the taste buds: well prepared, immaculately presented and full of flavour.

The Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani boasted quail eggs, and Basmati rice, saffron, caramelised onions, slow cooked in the oven opened up my palette to the adventure that was only just beginning. This was followed by Tandoori Jhinga - King Prawns which were juicy, tender and flavoursome, marinated in spices, but not hot. Highlights included the Murgh Makhani –tender chicken fillets with Tandoori spices, and the Pork Vindaloo - a spicy offering, yet full of flavour. The succulent Bombay Aloo potatoes concluded the endless stream of food, and they too were immersed in flavour.

Thus filled to satisfaction and beyond, I readied myself for dessert, creating room for what I knew would be a tasty treat, if the previous courses were anything to go by.

The desserts came in the form of deliciously fruity sorbets and also an assortment of puddings which I sampled: Pista Phirni, a pistachio Pudding; Sago & Coconut Pudding; and Madras Coffee mousse to conclude the meal.

The food prepared by Gate to India was exceptional.  It is certainly highly recommended to those yearning for high quality Indian cuisine where spice brings out the flavour, not the fire extinguisher.

By Panayiotis Markides