India is a country I’m yet to visit but I live vicariously through the fragrant spice and punchy flavours of its marvellous cuisine that has graced our city. Tamarind in Mayfair is a stalwart member of London’s ever-evolving Indian cuisine influence and I had the pleasure of delving into its complex creations, after a lengthy closure and refurbishment.
Tamarind was the very first Indian restaurant to pin a Michelin-star proudly to its chest and, as a result, has held a position of prominence and high-end notoriety since, with glamorous city-dwellers wandering in for a hint of India. Despite holding such a status, the restaurant itself accompanied with refurb, is a space of soft tones and un-showy embellishments, designed by David D’ Almada. Set over two floors, there’s a lot of glass, wood and dim-lighting to be found throughout, with a bright dining room at the top that will be hankered after in the warmer, summer months.
The refurb isn’t the only thing that has been spruced up with a new kitchen army delivering the dishes; Executive Head Chefs at the helm being Karunesh Khanna and Manav Tuli. They’ve created a menu that is by no means pretentious and instead playfully re-creates traditional Indian dishes in a contemporary manner, making them a treat for the taste buds and the vision.
The restaurant is cushioned between open kitchens in which the sigree grill resides; a star player in Tamarind’s food network. The grill allows for lighter, fresher cooking which oozes out of the dishes put before you. I feasted whilst at Tamarind; sampling all sorts of dishes and riding a rollercoaster of flavour and heat levels. I began with a colourful salad, amalgamating melon, peach, apple, figs and cucumber with a grape and cumin dressing.
The palette cleanser, presented foliage like, paved the way for a delve into dishes such as Pudhina chops – lamb cutlets with dried mint, tomato and coriander chutney – that were packed with a punch, and the Papdi Chaat which was, by far, my favourite dish of the evening. The definition means to sort of crush up, hence the all thrown in manner of the dish which includes chickpeas, wheat crisps, yoghurt, blueberries and Tamarind chutney. For me, it evoked childhood memories, almost presenting itself like the textured mash up of chocolate and rice crispies that would come about as a result of making rice crispy cakes as a kid. The flavours were moreish and I want it for lunch and dinner, daily!
The main event saw a Lamb Biriyani sealed with a pastry lid position itself on our table. Our waiter kindly slid the lid off, revealing a catacomb of traditional Indian flavour, of which we lapped up with the aid of Tandoori Roti and Sade Chawal rice.
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Tamarind of Mayfair Chefs – – – Chef Karunesh Khanna joins Tamarind as Executive Chef, following a 15-year stint as Executive Chef at a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant. Chef Manav Tuli spent 7 years as Head Chef at a leading Indian restaurant in St James’, and joins Tamarind as Head Chef.
For drinks you simply must try the cocktails, or partner your spice with a heady red chosen by the sommelier. Favourite cocktail? The rose petal martini, with vodka, rose petals syrup and lychee juice. Work night aside, I’d have happily delved into a few of these mouth-pleasers.
Overall, this Mayfair staple has done nothing but better itself with the refurbishment and its experimentation with Moghul cuisine, oh and it’s also a real gem of a place for a celeb spot… you heard it here first!
Tamarind Mayfair: 20 Queen Street, W1J 5PR, www.tamarindrestaurant.com
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