When Manjeev (partner and chef) and Pradeep (partner) arrived from India in 2004 and 2006 respectively, they never could have guessed that they would be the proud owners of two award winning, authentic and genuine Indian restaurants!! I spent a bit of time with Manjeev and here’s what I gleaned……
After arriving in NI, Manjeev worked in The Thunderdome in Glengormley for a couple of years before joining Crawfordsburn Inn restaurant in 2006 til 2013. He had a good education in India studying Hotel Management. He then worked for some high level hotels such as the Five Star Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi, this hotel is one of Delhi’s finest- I’ve eaten there and it is truly magnificent. The lure of the U.K. Was too strong and he arrived in NI in 2004. Along with his partner Pradeep they opened The Taaj in Magherafelt in 2013 and then in 2014 they opened the 75 seater Taaj in Jordanstown. They have been nominated for 2015 Irish Restaurant Awards and won The Best World Cuisine in Ulster as part of the 2016 Irish Restaurant Awards. They are one of my joint favourites in the category of Best Newcomer in the upcoming Irish Curry Awards 2016…. Vote here: http://www.irishcurryawards.com
When I met Manjeev on Monday in Jordanstown he had donned the chefs hat and was at the coal face!! The regular chef Nirmal Rana had a well deserved day off!! Chef Rana came to NI in 2007 after being head chef at the 5 Star Oberoi in Shimla. He then worked in Spice in Lisburn before joining Taaj. Top quality chefs are very hard to come by (thanks to the EU immigration laws-that’s a whole new post!!) and command top salaries!!!
The Taaj has a very strong, characteristic logo of the Lion’s head and is very memorable-that’s just the decor. The service is top quality and the food standard, portion size and taste makes for very good value for money. I have eaten here before on numerous occasions as well as having food at outside catered events and private parties and at all times the food was special. Good, wholesome, authentic North Indian food. Manjeev was telling me that they are diversifying the menu and he let me try some crispy chilli chicken with Thai dressing on lettuce served with fries. Whilst being very tasty I got chef to rustle up a side of madras sauce-that really made all the difference. I’m certainly going to pay another visit very soon!!!