Pure Indian Cooking, London restaurant review
Being a professional storyteller (PR), I’m a sucker for a good backstory. And Pure Indian Cooking certainly has that. A restaurant set up by husband and wife team Faheem and Shilpa in central London, Pure Indian Cooking is much more than just another Indian restaurant. The couple started out with a takeaway, before graduating to a restaurant. Shilpa assumes the role of head chef, while hubby Faheem is front of house.
Being a small family-run establishment, the couple’s work ethic is admirable, working six days to make the restaurant a success, despite having a young daughter.
But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s another cosy restaurant ran by a cute couple. Chef Shilpa had worked with Raymond Blanc and spent much of her career in Michelin-starred restaurants. This is totally reflected in her presentation, as her dishes wouldn’t look out of place in an upmarket restaurant like Benares (which I have reviewed here).
The other thing that makes Pure Indian Cooking different from standard curry fayre is the inspiration behind their food. The couple hail from Maharashtra, and create traditional South Indian dishes.
There’s not a chicken tikka, jalfrezi or vindaloo in sight. True to its name, Pure Indian Cooking boasts dishes you’d have in a house in Goa or Bangalore. So as Faheem explained, there is more of an infusion of vinegars and cardamom in the dishes. This apparently took some convincing when trying to market to an audience fed on Korma and Balti dishes. But once people tried, they came back for more.
So here’s what we had:
Regular readers of HalimaBobs will know that chaat is one of my favourite things. I’ve reviewed many a chaat place, and shared my own recipe. I’m a huge sucker for Indian food, particularly the ones that mix hot and sour flavours.
So the chaat three ways had me at hello. A delectable selection of gol guppa, crisp balls filled with chickpeas accompanied with a shot of tamarind, and papdi chaat were mouth watering. The puffed rice in a bamboo boat was also a palette pleaser.
I wasn’t as enthused with the goats cheese samosa, Mainly because I’m not a big fan of goats cheese. However hubby loved it. I did like the relishes of beetroot, tomato and chutney that came with the samosas.
The trio chicken tikka resembled a dish we had eaten at Michelin-starred Benares. Each piece, true to its name, was cooked differently, with chutney, and yoghurt in abundance. Once thing I noticed is that Shilpa really knows to cook her chicken so it’s still tender. After eating overcooked chicken in restaurants for years, the almost-velvety meat was a delight.
With the South Indian influence, the mains were a departure from any Indian curries I’d had before. The chicken contained pickled onion garnish. As a pickle lover, this suited me just fine. The okra was my almost-favourite, as the vegetable was firm with a crunch, and cooked within a thick onion sauce.
The thick and meaty monkfish, in its green sauce, again fused flavours you wouldn’t get in a typical curry house.
But my favourite had to be the spinach, or saag. I’ve had saag my whole life, and I never knew how tasty you could make spinach and garlic. But Pure Indian Cooking has this down to an art.
Speaking of art, their spiced chocolate mousse was something to marvel at. With a hazelnut and nougat crunch, it was as detailed as it was tasty. The chocolate decoration was not only instagram worthy, it wouldn’t look out of place in a much higher-end restaurant.
Pure Indian Cooking in a nutshell
Price: Starters are mostly under £10, while mains range between £10-£15.
Halal: The chicken and lamb is halal
Great if… you want to have a different Indian dining experience. Also fab if you want fine food without the price tag.
Not so great if… you like your baltis, vindaloos and kormas. You bore.
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I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.