With over 35 uninterrupted years in the port, Mumtaz is an evergreen Puerto Banús classic that continues to appeal because this is true Indian fine dining come to Marbella.

A perennial favourite with residents and visitors of all nationalities, Mumtaz is a reference for Indian food in these parts. The restaurant is now serving the second and even third generations of families that first discovered it in the eighties and nineties, enjoying a loyal following throughout the seasons. In fact, in summer this Puerto Banús landmark is so popular that long queues form and the maître d’ is sometimes offered hefty sums to ‘procure’ a table.

“To accommodate that would be unfair,” says Juan, who has been welcoming diners here for over twenty years, “so we maintain a strict first-come, first-served policy.” The reason for the undying popularity of Mumtaz among many different nationalities is without doubt its prime location close to where the mega yachts are moored, and above all the enviable reputation it has built up over the years as perhaps the best Indian restaurant in Marbella.

A reputation of this kind creates a high degree of anticipation, and with this comes the burden to meet expectations, and where possible exceed them, so ultimately it is the ability of Mumtaz to keep impressing that explains its cult status among lovers of Indian cuisine. A recent refurbishment has added to that appeal, complementing a spacious terrace offering impressive harbour views with a stylish and richly ambient interior décor. Fine dining Indian style The welcome at Mumtaz is warm and the service fluent.

As you might expect, this restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine in which all the different parts come together seamlessly. You will recognise many of the dishes from your local curry restaurant’s menu, but while this is not a nouvelle cuisine establishment, it serves a superior level of food that takes Indian dishes to the next level. What’s more, the variety of choices and regional variations is greater too.

They cover the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, offering a very diverse range of dishes that includes both familiar curries and more exotic dishes you may never have tried before. Suitably armed with a glass of Cobra – for while wine fits perfectly well with Indian cuisine, beer somehow is an ideal match – we chose classic onion bhajis as a starting snack, followed by Mumtaz Soup and Prawn Pouri, a deep fried bread stuffed with prawns.

Everything, from the well-known bhajis to the prawn sensation, is prepared to a very high standard. I recommend the house variation of a lentil soup, it’s one of those dishes that truly exceeds your expectations to the point where you make a mental note to add it to your list of favourites. Accompanied by a selection of papadums and nan breads, this set the tone for one of the best Indian meals we’ve enjoyed in some time.

New experiences The main courses indeed followed the same pattern, ranging from a familiar such as Lamb Rogan Josh – often delicious but here a true experience – to the Biryani Mughlai. It’s a good restaurant that specialises in Biryanis, and the one we sampled is made up of chicken cooked with rice and served with a separate curry sauce. The slightly smoky flavour of the meat makes this a dish to look out for.

One of the specialities at Mumtaz is Karahi Gosht, a delicacy of diced lamb prepared in spices and tossed in a Karahi Souk, a traditional wok-style cooking pot. Rich in flavour, it takes one to the western part of India, while the Vindaloo recipes hail from the more southerly parts of the subcontinent. If you know your stuff it’s possible to enjoy a virtual journey by taste that will take you from the steamy south via the Punjab to the Himalayan highlands.

Mumtaz is a place to savour if you enjoy good Indian food, wish to revisit classics in style and also explore new territory. This is added to by the friendly staff, prime location and attractive décor, making it one of the top venues for this kind of cuisine in our region. And if you wish to experience how the Indians and their neighbours make desserts, just ask for classics such as Gulab Jamun, Rasgulla or Bebinca. A whole new world will open up.

Words Michel Cruz / Photography Kevin Horn

Benabola, Casa A, Nº7,Puerto Banús Tel: 952 812 090.