Indian food with a twist! Just a couple of minutes’ walk from Seven Dials, this is the perfect place to come with a few friends and order the entire menu! I went with my parents and we did just that, and of all the dishes we got I think there were only one or two which I didn’t love! Each one was tasty, unique and the most beautifully presented I’ve seen as far as Indian food goes! Much as I love Indian food, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not usually the most aesthetically pleasing food and so many of my favourite Indian restaurants have never made it to my blog, but thankfully this one was an exception 🙂
The dishes are referred to as ‘half plates’ and the idea is that they’re tapas-style so you order a few per person. The waitress advised 2-3 but as usual we ordered far more than that, and I think you’d be pretty hungry if you only got 2-3 each, but then again I am greedy! They just come out as they’re ready, so definitely not ideal for photo opportunities but it does mean that you can enjoy a few dishes at a time without the others going cold. It also means you have no idea when the food is going to stop coming!
The highlight for me was the Truffle Ghee Kulcha. It would seriously be a crime to go and not order that. In fact, order several – trust me, you’ll still be fighting over them! Whilst we were in there I saw them bring hundreds of them out, and I had to resist the urge not to grab them when I saw them sitting on the side waiting to be served! It was light, soft and fluffy, stuffed with cottage cheese and brushed with truffle ghee. Maybe I am slightly biased as I’m a complete sucker for soft bread and I love truffle but everyone else seemed pretty impressed too (not that I let them have much 😛 it was my birthday after all..!) We did also get a couple of plain naans for the table which were just as light and fluffy but I can’t recommend the truffle ghee kulcha enough!
Another one of my favourites was the Halwai ki Mutter Kachori, a.k.a. pea-stuffed bread and potato in a red pumpkin curry. The curry itself was light and beautifully spiced and the pea bread was to die for.
We ordered their curry of the week which was Papad Ki Sabz, a papad curry simmered in a yogurt and tomato gravy served with Millet flat bread. None of us actually knew what papad was and strangely enough the usually ever-reliable Google returned nothing but web pages about the Pope! We were told that it was some sort of veggie curry though so we got that. As it turns out I was actually googling papal and not papad.. it’s only now I’m writing this up that I realised how stupid I was being (and how I should always trust Google!), and if you Google the correct word it comes back with “a thin, crisp, disc-shaped food from the Indian subcontinent; typically based on a seasoned dough usually made from peeled black gram flour, fried or cooked with dry heat”, i.e. not a vegetable at all.. which would explain why it had such a strange texture! Much as I love big chunks of meat in my curry I’m also a big fan of chickpea or chunky vegetable curries but the papad was quite a thin, flat (not) vegetable with very little texture. It didn’t have much flavour either but the sauce was rich and spicy and I absolutely loved the flatbread on the side. My favourites are definitely following a strong theme here but I can’t help being a carb lover! The millet flatbread really was amazing.. it was firmer and flatter than the naan but more tasty with an almost nutty texture. I’ve never had millet before but I was a huge fan 🙂
Next to arrive was the Konkani Seafood Curry. It was mainly white fish but since I was the birthday girl I got any of the more exciting items (I did dig around for them 😛 ). I think I got a piece of squid and a couple of prawns – not a lot but then again all of their dishes are small and there was plenty of fish. As with all of their other dishes, it was incredibly flavoursome and even Marcus (who isn’t a seafood fan) got involved with the sauce! It came with a coconut dosa on the side, which I also loved. I didn’t like it quite as much as the other breads as it was softer and more crepe-like but it was another great addition.
We also got the Bohri chicken which came with a fenugreek flatbread, the Kochi Beef Fry and a side of daal. The daal was different to ones I’ve had previously – it was a lot chunkier. There were actually as many other vegetables as there were lentils, but it was so tasty. The chicken came on the bone, and although I prefer breast meat it was so soft and tender I can see why they opted for drumsticks.
One thing I decided to give a miss was the Sorpotel & Sanna – goan pork and offal pickle with steamed rice and coconut cake. The coconut cake sounded amazing but one thing (possibly one of the only things!) I just can’t bring myself to eat is offal of any kind. I have tried it in the past when I was younger but to be honest I don’t like the taste or the texture.
Obviously an Indian meal isn’t complete without rice, and rather than going for the plain steamed rice we ordered the Himalayan Pulao which was wild mushrooms with wild rice – two of my favourite things! It was pretty good but perhaps a little greasier than it needed to be. It came in a cute little pot topped generously with sautéed mushrooms.
The Devilled Quail Egg was a little disappointing. It was effectively an Indian take on a Scotch egg, made with crab meat. I thought I’d love it but the fishy taste was overpowering and the filling was too soggy for my liking – I’d have liked it to hold more firmly when I cut it open. My parents loved it though, so maybe I was just spoilt with too many other good plates of food to choose from!
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Raghogarhi Sea Bass either, despite really looking forward to it as it’s one of my favourite fishes. It came wrapped in a banana leaf parcel and smothered in a thick curry paste. Underneath was some sort of rice but it was totally stuck to the fish. All in all the dish was surprisingly tasteless and again a bit soggy – I love fish with a firm flaky texture but this was decidedly mushy.
To finish on a huge high there was the Kale Chaat. If you don’t like kale, order this and think again! Talli Joe say that it’s their version of a typical Delhi street food and it’s crispy kale in a light batter served with potato, pomegranate and sweet yogurt. Despite the kale being the main part of the dish, there were so many other elements which all worked perfectly together. Another one to fight over!
They do have some desserts there but only two – Berry Malai (baked yogurt with seasonal berries) and Black Gajar Halwa (Heritage black carrots with salted peanut brittle). Indian desserts don’t really appeal to me in general and this place wasn’t really an exception. Baked yogurt didn’t sound particularly exciting and neither did baked carrots as a dessert, not that I could have tried it anyway due to the peanuts 😦 I’d personally recommend going for a Fabrique cinnamon bun just round the corner instead! Or there are all the beautiful donuts you could dream of at Bread Ahead’s shop (a permanent post of their popular stall at Borough Market).
The chef came round at the end to chat to us and tell us where he gets his inspiration from, as well as to ask us for some feedback. It was lovely to see someone so passionate and keen to talk about their dishes and style of cooking! At Talli Joe they take inspiration from all over India on their menu and he excitedly told us about all of the different regions where you’d find similar spice combinations, as well as how they came up with the alternative twists on their menu like the Scotch egg!
Overall it was a delicious meal. I love trying loads of dishes and the fact that each one is so small means that you can do that even if you only go as a couple. I love Indian food but usually when Marcus and I go out we only order a curry or two, biriyani, rice and naan breads yet we always leave in huge food comas whereas here you could probably order four or five dishes each and still have plenty of room for dessert (or coffee and cake in our case!). I guess the only problem is that it can get very pricey, but that’s not a downfall of this particular place as I’ve found that tapas-style places always are. Each dish is around 5-10 pounds but they’re small and although I left feeling perfectly satisfied, I wasn’t actually full, so for a dinner I imagine you could end up with a pretty hefty bill.
Would I recommend it? Yes
Worth going out of your way for? Yes
Would I go back? Probably not.. there are a lot of other Indian places in London which I’m keen to try!