WHEN it comes to an Indian meal on the Costa del Sol no restaurant has been around for longer than the Mumtaz in Puerto Banus.
And the reason for that is quite simple - exceptional food, attentive service and a wonderful atmosphere.
It is 33 years since the restaurant first opened its doors, and that longevity speaks volumes. For the customers who go time and time again it is not all about the quality of the food though, it is the knowledge that they will get that famous Mumtaz style of food every time.
Their experienced chefs, who specialise in northern Indian food, are all trained in the Mumtaz way of cooking, no matter their experience.
Juan Jimenez, who has been the face of the restaurant for 22 years and greets customers as the Maitre d’ explained that the Mumtaz has a special philosophy that is behind its success.
He said: “If you ask people about their favourite food they always want it to be ‘like mother makes.’ To them how mum cooks a dish is the best way, and that is what they want.
“Well, with our customers it is the same. They want their dishes cooked the Mumtaz way. If we have a new chef they have to cook that way. If they do a different style it doesn’t matter how good it is, it is not what our customers want. It is vital to have that consistency with the food.
“We have many customers who have been coming for years and years and they come for a good reason - they like our food the way it is. If we give them a Chicken Tikka Masala that is done a different way they would soon say, very nice, but it is not cooked the Mumtaz way.
To that end, the chefs prepare everything themselves, including the all important spice mixes like garam masala they use.
That is no mean feat in itself and quite a task as the spices first have to be roasted to just the right degree to take off the ‘raw’ edge and enhance the flavour before being ground and sieved to ensure a fine powder results. Get that wrong and the food can seem gritty and over roast the spices and it can taste burnt. But the effort and attention to detail is worth it when you taste the food.
The spices give a variety of subtle tastes which blend and come together in a final dish that is bursting with flavour. That care is taken with every dish on the menu. The starters are perfect, the mains delicious, and the home-made desserts are to die for.
Juan added that attention to detail is part of the philosophy behind the beautifully decorated restaurant which sits on the frontline of Puerto Banus overlooking the luxury super yachts.
From the quality ingredients they buy - the jumbo prawns really are jumbo - to the selection of wine to go with the meal, everything is thought through.
Juan even goes on regular refresher courses at top vineyards to ensure he has the most up-todate knowledge on wines.
And also top of the agenda at any good restaurant is the selection of the right staff. “They have to be efficient and friendly. We have a year-round staff as the core of our waiting brigade, but come the summer we obviously have to take on more. But I use the same criteria for the seasonal staff as for the permanent staff. I either have to know them or their families, and I make sure they are approachable and friendly before I take anyone on.
It is that approach that has led to many celebrity guests over the years including Joe Cocker and Frank Bruno, but on that Juan remains tight lipped.
He said: “Customers want discretion, they do not want to be hassled and have people taking photos of them, and I would not talk about any of our clients.
These are just some of the factors that have kept the Mumtaz at the top of the tree for 33 years, but of course the main attraction is, and always will be, the food.
There is certainly plenty of choice with 60 dishes on the menu, with many favourites included and Tandoori specialities.
There is a warm Mumtaz welcome waiting for all their customers, new and old, so what are you waiting for?
Get along now for superb food in a wonderful atmosphere. Tel: 952 812 090.