Posts Tagged ‘curry’

Beer Review: Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer

26 April, 2010

A NEW beer turned up in the Brick Lane off-license a few months ago. Taking the spotlight from, but not replacing the colourful, mock-Bengali curry beer, Bangla Premium Beer, is another beer designed to compliment your curry. Costing a national deficit creating £2.95 pence, here is a bottle Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer bottle

Nowhere near as bright as Bangla, there’s no mistaking the India and curry connection. It might say “Premium” on the label, but it looks economy. Even so, we know better than to judge a beer by its bottle.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer neck label

The neck-label hints at why it really is “Premium”. “Slow brewed in India” is why I hope it’s going to be worth your time.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer front label

It’s called “Taj Mahal” and has a photo of said Indian landmark to prove it. To hammer home the point of this beer, the label background seems to be taken from the wallpaper from a curry-house.

Cosmetics aside, it does say everything you need it to say. It has the word “lager”, so you’ll know where to align your expectations. It’s a big 650ML bottle and the alcoholic volume is 4.5%. Normally I’d be moaning about it not being very high, but this is a curry beer. Trust me, the last thing you want to cool your mouth down with is Robinson’s Old Tom Strong Ale.

Then there’s the few more hints about why I’m hoping that Taj Mahal is going to turn out well. “Slow brewed in India from the finest malt & hops”. First, it’s brewed in India. Not a deceptive pretend-foreign beer like so many others. Second, fine ingredients are always good. There are still a lot of questions though. Let’s see what the back label has to say…

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer back label

Quite a lot, apparently. All of which I’d class as small-print. I know you love details so, (takes a deep breath), here goes…

Ingredients are “barley malt, adjuncts, hops for bitterness”. Some hoppiness is good for a lager. But what the heck are “adjuncts”? Leave a comment if you know.

It’s “best served chilled” and you need to “consume within day of opening”. Whether that means it’ll still be good to top-up your hangover with your Pot Noodle breakfast the next morning is unclear.

It is, I’m utterly delighted to report, “Produce of India for export”. It was even “Brewed under license from United Breweries Limited, Bangalore, India by Blossom Industries Ltd., Village Jani Vankad Nani Daman 396 210”.

Also on there are the details of the imported and exporter. The Hertfordshire based importer is SOP International Ltd, with a website at www.sopinternational.com and a homepage at http://www.sopinternational.com/d-chi467-taj-mahal-taj-mahal-premium-lager-beer/. The Indian exporter is UB Global with a website at www.ub-global.com and an interesting beer page at http://www.ub-global.com/beer.html.

And that’s all the small-print. So, what does Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer taste like? How does it compare to the other curry beers? Not just the against specialists like Bangla, Cobra and Kingfisher, but the ones that get it spot-on by accident, like Grolsch and Holsten Pils. It’s time to find out.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer poured into a glass

This fridge cold bottle poured so easily, not even I made it glug. Much. For those of you, like me, who don’t do Euro measuring, 650 millilitres (the size of this bottle) is more than a Pint glass can hold. As I discovered.

What does Taj Mahal look like? In the glass, it’s predictably Pilsner lager yellow. Very carbonated, yet it only manages a thin, patchy layer of foam. It really is very fizzy. So much so, the fizzing is audible.

What does Taj Mahal smell like? If you’ve ever sniffed a Pilsner lager before, you’ll have a good idea. It has that familiar whiff of malted barley. At this stage, I was hoping to smell at least a some hoppiness. But alas, I can detect none.

What does Taj Mahal taste like? The first two gulps are easy ones. Being a lager, especially one for your curry, you might not expect it to have flavour. And… it doesn’t.

A good curry beer needs to be refreshing, clean and crisp, ideally with a mild, bitterness. And a few gulps in, that seems to be what Taj Mahal is. While it’s cold, it feels refreshing, clean and crisp. But does it have the bitter, hoppy finish? It is slow brewed and even mentions “hops for bitterness” on the label. Apparently, they didn’t add all that many hops. You just can’t taste them. You do get one of the gentlest, mildest bitter finishes of any lager, ever. Will that be enough to soothe your mouth from chilli agony? Only partly, I suspect.

What am I liking about Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? While it’s cold, it is supremely easy to drink. Even not beer drinkers will be fine. It is very accessible to the curry munching masses that frequent Brick Lane every evening. If you like your lagers to be clean, crisp and refreshing, Taj Mahal fits the bill nicely. Rather surprisingly, it’s not gassy. And it’s one of the few that comes in bigger-than-a-pint 650ml bottles.

What am I disliking about Taj Mahal? That drinkability and refreshment comes at the expense of watery-ness. It is very light and watery. Normally I like that in a lager. But for something that’s “slow brewed” and so bloody expensive, you expect more than fizzy water. And that leads onto the next issue. The price. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was exclusive ale brewed with myrrh. But it’s a curry beer, to be drunk in vast quantities because your mouth is on fire. With so little in the flavour and taste department, it’s also lacking anything to differentiate it, or to add any charm. And, as it gradually reaches room temperature, which it inevitably will, it loses some of the crisp, refreshing-ness.

How can I sum up Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? I would like to try it with a curry because it would probably do rather well. At least while it’s cold, it is crisp and refreshing enough to extinguish the inferno raging in your mouth during a curry.

Compared to my other curry favourites, it’s no failure. But neither does it win. It’s just lacking something in the taste department that the others have. Something hoppy. If you’re having a night out, need a beer for your curry and have the money to spend, Taj Mahal is perfectly fine.

Normally, I like simple, cheap, watery lagers. They’re honest and drinkable, so I rate them highly. Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer though is slow brewed and expensive. Sure, Taj Mahal is fine, but cheap lagers a third of the price are at least as good. For that, I’m rating it low.

Rating: 2.3

Have you tried Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? What did you think of it?

Leave your comments and recommendations down here.

Snack Food Review: John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce

16 January, 2009

ANOTHER snack food review that no one will ever read. If you’re reading this, then leave a comment at the end of this post so I can learn who reads this. First though, read on to see what I make of John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce.

John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce front of tin

With the push to stop the population of the turning into chavvy puddles of lard, every food in the country now has health related symbols on it. John West Mackerel Fillets are no exception. Look closely at the front of the tin, and you’ll see a symbol telling you that this 125g tin will be “Rich in Omega 3 Fish Oils”.

On one of the four sides of the tin, we learn where these fish came from. It turns out that they were “produced” (shouldn’t that be caught?) in Portugal for John West Foods Ltd in Liverpool. Why did they have to come from Portugal instead of from our own fishermen? If you know the answer, do please leave a comment. I’m guessing that your answer may involve the letters E and U and the word “quotas”.

Over on the back of the tin there are all manner of nutritional information.

John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce back of tin

There’s some information how good Omega 3 is for your heart. That the chief ingredient, at 73%, really is mackerel fillets, which is good to know. And that this little can contains all of 275 calories and 20.7 grams of fat. No wander you never see women eating these things.

What will John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce look, smell and taste like? I’ve had them before so I know the answer. But for your benefit, here it is.

John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce opened tin

The tin opens very easily indeed. What’s inside is hard to make out. It doesn’t look like a fish in the way that sardines do when you open a tin of them. Oh well. That must be what “filleting” is.

The curry sauce smell isn’t very strong. Instead, it smells mostly of fish and partly of some kind of sauce. It doesn’t smell of curry at all.

But does it taste of curry sauce? Eating John West Mackerel Fillets in Curry Sauce is delightfully easy. With no bones and gunky bits to remove, you can dig right in without worry. Which is great if, like me, you’re too lazy to do that.

Can I taste any curry? No. If this was made by Brunswick, my eyes would be watering by now. But it’s not so I have hardly any flavour or taste in my mouth. And that makes John West Mackerel Fillets a bland eating experience. The same goes for their other hot and spicy sauce Mackerel Fillets. I’ve tried a few others and they are all similarly bland.

What else am I enjoying? The Mackerel Fillets themselves are a joy to eat. They break up easily with a fork into pieces just the right size for a mouthful.

What else am I not enjoying? They are very very dry. It’s almost exactly the same as eating chicken from over of the hundreds of fast-food chicken outlets that festoon high-streets up and down the land. There needs to be a lot more sauce to stop these fillets from being such a dry experience. Or make sure you have a beer nearby, because you are going to be thirsty by the end of the tin.

To sum up, John West Mackerel Fillets are about the easiest to eat tinned fish products you could buy. With nothing undesirable to remove, you get right into eating them. The downsides are that they’re dry and as flavourless as every other tinned Mackerel Fillet in the John West range. Highly recommended if you want a quick fish based snack, but not if you want flavour.

Have you tried John West Mackerel Fillets In Curry Sauce? Do you work for John West? If so, then do please leave a comment here. I’d love to know what you think of these Mackerel Fillets. Also, do you have any requests or recommendations of your own? Then here is the place to add them


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