Love is a burning thing, And it makes a fiery ring, Bound by wild desire,
I fell into a ring of fire.
For some perplexing and unknown reason to scientists and philosophers alike, humankind has a fascination – indeed some would say an obsession – with hot, spicy food. For many of us, a good meal involves turning our otherwise smiling mouths into, as dear ol' Johnny Cash would say, a "burning ring of fire".
The meals here must be blessed by the Hindu Goddess for food.
There is but one way to satiate this unending yearning for food hot enough to melt wrought iron – curry. That's right – good old fashioned Indian curry. Luckily, if you're down Hobart way (North Hobart to be more precise), you won't find it hard to locate the Taj Palace.
Located on Elizabeth Street not far away from cafes like the Raincheck Lounge and Sweet Envy, where you'll find some of Hobart's best hot chocolates, the Taj Palace is a true Hobart institution.
True, sometimes the service is a little hit-and-miss. They've traditionally struggled to organise a full house, the owners' kids are running all over the place, and strange foods that in no way resemble the meals you ordered sometimes turn up on your table.
But they're getting an awful lot better. They've recently reprinted their menus (beforehand they had simply scribbled "add $1 to every dish" to the inside), the service seems better arranged, and the food comes out in a reasonable timeframe (in the past you could often find yourself waiting a good hour…or more). And true, reviews from other diners are sometimes a little on the aggravated side of things (such as ordering vegetarian meals, but then having pieces of meat turn up in the curry).
John Lennon and Paul McCartney would lurve this place.
But few people would disagree on this: the food is absolutely sensational. It's spicy, it's subtle, it's authentic and it's ridiculously yummy.
While it's not the best way to lose weight, food at the Taj Palace hit a spot you weren't even aware that was empty. The Prawn Molee and the Palak Paneer are exquisite dishes to try, but everything here from the Rogan Josh to the Kormas to the Tandoor is really pretty special.
The best idea is to go with a group of friends, and try a little of several dishes at once. Oh, and don't forget the garlic naan. It's utterly majestic.
The Taj Palace has recently updated its website, and is far more user-friendly than in the past. They even have a function allowing you to order online if you wish to order takeaway (using www.eatnow.com.au).
But eat in if you can. As soon as you take a seat, you'll get a generous serving of pappadums and raita (a yoghourt and mint dip that is truly scrumptious).
From that point onwards, you'll most likely be lulled into a vague hypnotic stupor due to the gorgeous, spicy smells wafting around. You'll be pleased to see the prices are incredibly reasonable - about $18 for a meat dish. Plus, all dishes come with a serving of rice.
The restaurant itself recommends its specialties: Murg Makhni Pakizah (Butter Chicken), Himalayan Chicken, Beef Madras, Prawn Vindaloo and Benga Chingri. Drool.
This Holy Man keeps a watchful gaze over your dining experience.
Try Gosht Banjara: "a special sweet and tangy preparation of beef from gypsies of Rajasthan" or Lamb Jhalfrezi: "superb dish of lamb, everyone may like it". Then wash it down with a Tasmanian Derwent Valley wine or a Cascades beer.
Sure it may be a little chaotic, but it's by far the best Indian food in Hobart, and it's as authentic as they come. Swaadisht! (That's Hindi for delicious, by the way!)