Kalpna

Kalpna

12th January 2017 7.30pm

www.kalpnarestaurant.com

My friend Emma at Vegan Edinburgh took a photo of a lovely looking thaali at Kalpna some time ago, so when she suggested we visit, along with Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle, I didn’t need any persuading!

Kalpna is a vegetarian restaurant serving Indian food but has many vegan friendly dishes. The walls are decorately beautifully inside and made for an impressive interior. After a bit of debate between a thaali and a dosa, I felt I had to try the thaali and opted for the thaali raj bhog. Emma went for the vegan version of this. Ann picked a starter and a main and went for the bateta vada followed by the mysore masala dosa. We obviously had some poppadoms too- we are not idiots!

Vegetarian Thaali - Kalpna

Vegetarian Thaali – Kalpna

The food came out very quickly. The thaalis are massive (there is a mini option if you prefer). The platter had a couple of starters, a tiny bit of salad, a couple of dips, 5 small main dishes, rice, naan, poppadom and a dessert. The starters were bhajis and a really nice potato pakora. These could be dipped into the raita or the tamarind and date sauce. The tamarind sauce was definitely my favourite of the two. The mains were all curry based, three of which were brimming with vegetables. One was green bean based and was thick but had a lovely, vibrant flavour to match it’s beautiful green colour. Another had lots of sweetcorn and mushrooms in, which was unusual but nice. Another was a spicier green bean curry but has a strong tomato base instead. There was also a paneer butter masala and a tarka dhal. The dhal was way too salty for me but Emma, who had the same in her vegan thaali, found hers to be just right, so it could just be my salt-sensitive palate. The paneer butter masala was my favourite of all the dishes. There was plenty of paneer in it for such a small dish and the sauce was creamy and delicately spiced. The rice was great and the naans nicely fluffy. The dessert, whilst nice, was a bit too sweet for me, being rice based but in an over flavoured milk. Emma enjoyed her thaali. With most of the dishes being the same as the vegetarian, there were only a couple of substitutes, mainly for the paneer and the dessert. Ann enjoyed her starter of bateta vada and in the end preferred this over her dosa. She felt her dosa, whilst massive, wasn’t quite what she expected. She was also a little underwhelmed by the coconut chutney that came with it.

Dosa - Kalpna

Dosa – Kalpna

So, overall Kalpna was good. It isn’t going to set the world alight but you will leave feeling you enjoyed your meal.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value- 9/10

Overall – 31.5/40

Would I eat here again? Probably

Cost £63 for two thaalis, one starter, one main and two diet cokes

Aroma Cafe and Mosque Kitchen

Aroma Cafe and Mosque Kitchen

7th December 2016 at 1pm

http://aroma-cafe.net/

A spontaneous trip out to the Mosque Kitchen (one of many – this one is situated just behind the mosque) with some of my teamies. The café is basic but with friendly staff. The focus is decent, quick food. Whilst most of the food available is curry based, you can also get wraps, paninis and salads. However, we all wanted curry. I chose a lamb curry with rice, the others went for chickpea masala and rice, chicken tikka masala with rice and chicken jalfrezi with rice and an additional naan.

The food came out relatively quickly. Don’t expect crockery here. You will be served in a polystyrene dish with plastic cutlery but don’t let this spoil your experience. We each had a generous portion of rice. My curry was pretty standard – enough meat within it for a lunch portion. It wasn’t particularly spicy but I didn’t expect anything different. The chickpea curry was very generous and is a favourite of my colleague eating it. The tikka masala dish was a vivid colour (as expected with this kind of dish) but also went down well. The jalfrezi was eaten by our Bradford curry expert. His verdict was that it was a competent curry but wasn’t going to set the world alight. Something I concur with.

This place is decent enough for a quick bite to eat.

Food – 7/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Possibly

Cost just over £20 for four curries with rice and a naan

Permit Bar - Dishoom

Dishoom

4th December 2016 10.30am

www.dishoom.com/edinburgh

Dishoom

Dishoom

We had originally tried to go here earlier in the week but with the 50% off ‘soft launch’ it meant queues of an hour and a half so I was grateful to have had a brunch invite so I could finally get to eat here, as I had been hearing fantastic things from friends and fellow foodies alike. Set on St Andrew Square, Dishoom is situated over three floors. The basement houses a bar called the Permit Room (based on the fact that prohibition still exists in India and a permit often must be sought in order to consume alcohol), the ground floor is the kitchen and the first floor is the main dining room. The place is chock-a-block with original artefacts and photos, including some lovely 1930’s theatre lights. A heck of a lot of effort has gone into this place. It shows in the staff too. Every single staff member I passed as we were led to our table said hello. They know their stuff too, with all staff taken to the London branch for a month to learn everything they need to know. Anyway, enough of that for now and down to the food and drink.

We all got a round of bloody marys to start. These were of a very generous size and really were spot on. I like a bit of spice in my bloody mary but a fellow diner wanted hers a bit milder and they were happy to oblige. We all ordered something from the cooked menu and then we got some of their naan rolls and fruit with yoghurt to share. A few of us also ordered some of the sides available too. I had chosen the keema per eedu, which is a Parsi breakfast of spicy chicken keema with chicken livers, topped with two fried eggs, Sali crisp chips and pau (a sweetish bread, traditionally made with the feet – but not this time!). As you can imagine, I was salivating at the thought!

As we were all food bloggers and photographers, when the food came there was lots of moving plates around to get the best angle (although I have to admit I am more of a point and click girl myself) but this was beautiful food to photograph. This is not fussy, over stylised food but it certainly is inviting. My keema was delivered on a wooden board in a little pot, with the pau on the side. Cutting into the egg released the beautiful golden yolk into the keema. We were advised that the best way to eat the pau was by using it like a roti or a naan to scoop up your food. This worked really well but was just as delicious on it’s own. Pau is also eaten dunked in chai, so I gave that a go too and it tasted surprisingly nice. The keema itself was beautifully spiced. The meat was full of flavour and the liver portions generous. The Sali chips added some fabulous crunch to proceedings. All in all a triumph. I also had a bit of the bacon and egg naan (something I think I would normally go for when time is short). This was so much better than your normal breakfast roll. I love a naan at the best of times but this was just something else. From the menu I could see that the bacon and sausages in the breakfasts are sourced from Ramsay of Carluke. There was also chilli jam to spice up the dish should you wish. I’ll be honest now, I didn’t have any of the fruit and yoghurt as I was stuffed but it looked nice and the yoghurt was spiced.

From here on in it was just cocktails. I sampled a further three but some were still going when I left. First we all had a Dhoble (named after the Assistant Commissioner Chief of Bombay Police who kept stopping people drinking) which contained orange juice, gin, maraschino liqueur and a squeeze of lemon. This was excellent and quite refreshing. We also had a gimlet and a pila house sling. For those of us who had not already been, we got a tour of the permit room, which is open til 3am every night. A very sophisticated way to drink into the wee hours.

I have to say the hype is truly justified for Dishoom. The food was exquisite and the staff friendly. Dishoom is a restaurant without stuffiness. It just wants you to have a good time. Bookings will start from January as will take away, but you can always pop in without booking for now. I am already planning my next trip.

Food – 10/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 9.5/10

Overall – 38.5/40

Would I eat here again? In a heartbeat

Cost – the meal was complimentary but breakfast naan rolls vary from £4.20 to £5.90 and cooked breakfasts £5.50 to £10.90. Cocktails around the £8 mark.

Please note that whilst this meal was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Sara and Ally from Dishoom for being so hospitable and to Jen from Lux for organising.

Flour Balls - The Raj Restaurant

The Raj Restaurant

25th July 2016 6.30pm

http://raj-restaurant.co.uk/

A mainstay of Leith for over 30 years, we went along to their new location in Blackhall to see what delights they had to offer. Surprisingly, the Raj was easily accessible from the city centre by bus, only taking 15 minutes (not too dissimilar to Leith).

Flour Balls - The Raj Restaurant

Flour Balls – The Raj Restaurant

The menu offers some of the usual favourites alongside some rarer dishes. Whilst we perused the menu we had a poppadom each. The pickle tray was interesting as the mango chutney had Bengali spices in it which gave it a lovely warmth, there was the standard onion raita and an unusual but delightful apple chutney, which would be lovely at any time. We then finally settled on our order. I went for classic onion bhajis for my starter following by a chicken Birmingham balti, which I couldn’t resist as a balti was the first type of curry I ever had. My dining companion went for roast potato and cashews for starter and green Bengali masala curry for her main. We both added a garlic and coriander naan. Whilst we waited for our starters we were treated to a surprise dish. This was to show off some of the street food the restaurant is doing as part of the festival in August (see here for more information). These were fried flour balls with a beetroot dip and were totally moreish. A nice surprise and something I would happily eat again.

The starters came out and we tucked in. Both were set with a little side salad and had accompanying sauces. My bhajis had a flatish  appearance but were tasty and well spiced. I was quite jealous of the roast potato and cashew dish on the other side of the table. It was quite a hot dish but really flavoursome.

Onto the mains. Nice tea light warmers were brought out and our serving dishes placed on top. My balti was delicious. It was not what I would recognise as a balti as it was a little hotter than I was expecting but nevertheless it was truly a good curry and the chicken was incredibly moist. On the other side of the table my friend was thoroughly enjoying her curry. She said it started sweet and then developed into a bit of heat. We both couldn’t believe how light the naan breads were. All in all a very satisfying course.

Indian Sweets - The Raj Restaurant

Indian Sweets – The Raj Restaurant

The restaurant gives complimentary Indian sweets which we managed to fit some of down the sides – happy days! They were very sweet but also quite light. To top it off coffees and liqueurs were offered on a rather fine trolley. I abstained by my friend partook in a Tia Maria which I think finished her off after her kingfisher beer!

The gentleman who looked after us for much of the evening was friendly and helpful. The restaurant is great for locals in the Blackhall area (and they also offer take away) but also worth a trip out from the centre. We really enjoyed our visit and hope to be back again.

Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? I hope so!

Cost – complimentary but around £30 for 2 poppadoms and chutneys, two starters and mains plus a beer and Tia Maria.

Please note that whilst this was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Megan from Crimson Edge PR for arranging.

Passage to India

11th June 2016 7.30pm

www.passage2india.co.uk

I visited Passage to India with a friend on her recommendation. I often don’t go to the strip of restaurants opposite the Playhouse as they can be busy due to pre-theatre traffic but we went a little later to avoid most of this. From the outside the restaurant looks tiny but it is a narrow, long dining space so there is plenty of room inside. I was delighted to see that chicken balti was on the menu so I couldn’t resist ordering it as it harked back to my university days when I first discovered curry. For my starter I ordered lamb chops. My dining companion for the evening went for hariyali chicken as a starter and chicken biriyani as a main. We couldn’t resist getting poppadoms and a pickle tray too.

Passage to India

Passage to India

We happily munched our way through the poppadoms whilst we waited for our starters. They were just as moreish as expected. Both of our starters looked yummy upon arrival. The lamb was beautifully spiced and the meat was nice and tender. The chicken on the other side of the table was beautifully fresh and fragrant. My friend offered me a little taste and it’s certainly something I might order next time. A pleasing course for both of us

We didn’t have to wait too long for the mains but we were asked whether we wanted a break between the starters and the mains which was nice but we were keen to get our chops round some curry. My chicken balti arrived in the traditional balti dish and I also ordered a garlic naan which was a generous but not over-facing size. The biriyani on the other side of the table also looked impressive with its mound of rice. We both thoroughly enjoyed our mains. My curry had plenty of flavour and the vegetables added a good mix of flavour and texture. The biryani was polished off completely however I struggled to finish my curry but I think that was because I ate too many poppadoms .

We both really enjoyed our visit to Passage to India and I’m sure I’ll be visiting again in the not too distant future.

Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yum – yes!

Cost £48 for poppadoms and pickle tray, two starters and mains, a garlic naan, two large glasses of wine and a Malibu and coke

Passage to India Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mother India

13th March 2016 1pm

http://motherindia.co.uk/index.php/dine-with-mother-india/mother-india-s-cafe/mother-india-s-cafe-edinburgh

Mother India started out in Glasgow but has a successful offering here in Edinburgh. This restaurant serves Indian tapas. I have been here plenty of times and sometimes I have experienced mildly chaotic service but didn’t experience that today. After a poppadom each with mango chutney, we all ordered two dishes each plus breads. The menu recommends 3-4 dishes between 2 people and this really is enough. We ordered a mix of dishes including butter chicken, chilli king prawns, chilli chicken, lamb karahi and aubergine fritters (the latter two I had). The majority of us went for garlic pittas and one went for peshwari.

As tapas, dishes come out when they are ready but they all came out pretty much as the same time which suited us fine. My lamb karahi was delicious and had good flavour. The lamb wasn’t tough either. The aubergine fritters were tasty, with some kind of accompanying sauce which was delicious. The garlic pitta was generously plied with garlic, so I was in my element. One of my friends commented that a pitta (flattened out in the shape of a naan) was a less stodgy and heavy alternative to a naan, which was perfect for a lunch. Everyone seemed to enjoy their dishes and it was agreed that they couldn’t have eaten any more.

This was a pleasant meal. It is nice enough here but is possibly missing a wow factor. A solid offering though.

Food – 7.5/10
Service- 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7.5/10

Overall 29/40

Would I eat here again? Probably but I’m in no hurry

Cost £65 for 8 tapas dishes, 4 pittas, 4 poppadoms and mango chutney, two halves of Kingfisher and a Diet Coke.

Mother India's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuk Tuk

21st January 2016 7.30pm

http://tuktukonline.com/

Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk was chosen as the venue for a friend’s leaving do and her boss booked a large table for a group of us. I had been here once before when it first opened (in my heady pre-blogging days). I hadn’t been back since so it clearly didn’t win me over on my first visit but perhaps it was just their settling in period. The restaurant focuses on street food, although we had a set menu which had less of what I would consider street food and was more of a traditional Indian restaurant experience. The set menu meant that the whole table got poppadoms and chutneys, a mixed selection of three different appetisers, then from a list of various curries we could have one chicken option, one lamb and two vegetarian and they would cook enough of these four curries for the whole table. An assorted mix of naans and rice was provided too. All for £16.95 per head, which seemed very reasonable. This place is BYOB too.

The poppadoms had a good crunch and were as expected. However, I think the chutneys were a little on the stingy side, particularly the most popular, mango chutney, being clearly less than the rest. The appetisers then arrived (apologies for the photo of these as we’d already eaten more than half of them before I remembered to take a photo). These included chicken lollipops, samosas and pakoras. The pakoras and samosas were nice, with the former being the best. The chicken lollipops, whilst cooked well and juicy, the coating was incredibly salty. The accompanying dips were decent though.

Meat curries and rice - Tuk Tuk

Meat curries and rice – Tuk Tuk

We were offered more appetisers but we were ready for the curries so they got those out to us fairly quickly. Upon arrival they smelt good. Sadly I felt a little underwhelmed upon eating them. The sauce in the butter chicken was by far the best of the lot. Unfortunately the chicken within it was very dry. The patina lamb karahi was nice enough but was not grabbing me and I didn’t go for a second helping. The veggie options of potato and aubergine curry and sag paneer seemed to be lacking in spice but at least there were good chunks of vegetables and paneer. The naans were generally good, with the garlic one being of a great standard but the peshwari naan was a bit dry.

People around the table thought it was good enough for the money we were paying but I’m not convinced it’s enough to entice me back.

Food – 6/10
Service – 8.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 8/10

Overall- 29.5/40

Would I go back? Unlikely (I think I am still spoilt by my Uni days in Stoke)

Cost £220 for 13 set menus

Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato