Indian food has long been a favourite in the UK. Chicken Tikka Masala is said to be our national dish! But these days Indian restaurants fall into one of several categories. There are the high-end tapas-style of restaurants; we have Indian fine-dining; and we have those restaurants that offer a combination of both traditional and innovative Indian dishes. Salaam Namaste swells the ranks of the last.
Salaam Namaste is the type of neighbourhood Indian restaurant that offers comforting food, gravy dishes, traditional curries, along with some smart alternatives. Even the wine list is worth a look. Indian beer still seems the go-to beverage for many diners, but Soul Tree Cabernet Sauvignon from Nasik Valley has my vote. It’s a rather different Cabernet Sauvignon and it’s from India. It has distinct fruit but also a hint of aromatic smoke.
Generosity of serving continued
That bottle of red was a positive pairing with Venison Koftas. These pan-seared minced venison balls were well-spiced and tossed with fresh asparagus and baby corn. The meat was meltingly tender and a substantial portion. That generosity of serving continued through the whole meal!
I chose a light Old Delhi’s Aloo Tikki Chaat as my starter. This would be perfect as a shared plate with the above spicy venison. The chaat was a classic of cool yogurt with golden fried gallets of mashed potatoes over tangy chickpeas.
Travancore Chicken Curry was my main dish. The Kingdom of Travancore was an Indian principality from 1729 until 1949. At its most powerful the kingdom covered most of modern-day central and southern Kerala. This dish from Kerala was cooked in a pepper masala made from garlic, mustard seeds, green chillies and ginger, and plenty of coconut. Curry leaves gave a distinctive flavour and aroma. Nothing more needed to garnish this curry other than some plain naan for dipping in the ample sauce.
Wild Rabbit Achari was perhaps the star of the evening. The bunny was cooked in the pickling spices called achari. The meat was served on the bone and that’s always good to see. Don’t be afraid of bones in this dish, as they give flavour. This was a delicious and thoughtful plate of balanced taste and meaty texture. Rabbit is a mild meat and so versatile – a must-try dish on the Salaam Namaste menu.
How could I possibly be hungry after such a copious spread? But there is always room for dessert, as they say. In truth there was still a little room, so only a little fight when the charming manager insisted that I try the ubiquitous kulfi. Pistachio is my favourite, and made a perfect sweet finish.
Try cooking a version of this for your next barbecue
My guest had his eye on the Tandoori Pineapple. This was a warm stack of pineapple and that grilling changed both the texture and flavour of the fruit. Try cooking a version of this for your next barbecue. Salaam Namaste serves this pineapple with a topping of coconut ice cream, which would be good on its own with perhaps a dash of rum as an alcoholic libation.
The restaurant is conveniently located just a few blocks from Russell Square Underground station, and it’s popular. There seem to be plenty of regulars – that’s always a good sign. I think they have found another couple who will be returning, perhaps for some dishes on the Traditional or Grill menus. Whatever we choose it’s liable to taste good, and there will be plenty of it.
Monday to Saturday: 12:30pm to 2:30pm. Dinner: 17:30pm to 23:30pm
Sunday: Lunch: 12:30pm to 2:30. Dinner: 5:30pm to 23:00pm
68 Millman Street
London WC1N 3EF
Phone: 020 7405 3697
Fax: 020 7405 4636