The Indian restaurant scene has really re-invented itself over recent years, with the biggest change being the proliferation of restaurants promising ‘nouvelle Indian cuisine’. I’ve seen everything from English breakfast inspired curries to tapas-style Indian restaurants, but most of it has been pretty pointless. This is exactly why my visit to the wonderfully traditional Tamarind was an absolute revelation amongst the largely ‘forward thinking, backward moving’ modern-Indian brigade.
Tamarind has been around for a while now but the venue looks as fresh as when I first visited around 10 years ago. It’s obviously had a few licks of paint in this time, but the simple and smart gold-accented dining room has maintained its classy Mayfair feel, albeit at the cost of any real Indian charm.
However, the food more than makes up for the shortcomings of the non-descript dining room. Chef Alfred Prasad’s menu is heavily influenced by dishes from north-western and southern India, as well as relying heavily on the use of the Tandoor oven. This means that the curries will be deeply spiced and there will be plenty of grilled dishes to choose from.
Getting straight to the point, the food was outstanding. Highlights of the starters were the Lasooni Pasliyan (juicy lamb cutlets topped with a smoked tomato, red pepper and coriander chutney), Galaoti Murgh (deeply spiced ground chicken with browned onions, mace, saffron and herbs) and most surprisingly the wonderfully complex and zingy Khumb Chaat (tandoor grilled portabella, shiitake and oyster mushrooms with pickled onions in a curry leaf dressing).
Mains continued to impress. Murgh Makhani (like a chicken tikka masala) was pretty much as good as this dish gets; creamy without being heavy, well balanced flavours and the most succulent pieces of tandoor cooked chicken. Similarly delicious was the Kashmiri Lamb Shank, which was marinated so well that the deep spices even made their way down to the bone. Dal Makhni did the trick as a delicious accompaniment, whilst the Rotis and Parathas were just as they should be.
Surely being an Indian restaurant, they’d fall at the desserts? Not here mate. The Gulab Jamuns were perfectly sweet and light and Mango Kulfi was creamy, rich and full of fresh mango flavours. Some lovely glasses of wine along the way, including an intense but well balanced Le Vele Verdicchio completed an excellent meal.
So Tamarind really impressed. Yes, it’s pretty pricey, with starters at around £8.50 and mains around £18, but no more than you’d pay at a decent French or Italian. If you want a traditional curry cooked to absolute perfection, Tamarind is definitely up there with the best.
Cuisine: Traditional Indian
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £75
20 Queen Street, Mayfair
London W1J 5PR
T: 020 7629 3561