We felt compelled to complete our week of posts on UK National Indian Curry week by reviewing a restaurant. It is freezing in London at the moment and a curry seemed just the ticket for warming us up. We decided we wanted to eat at a healthy Indian restaurant. We found two, one of which was Indali Lounge in Baker Street. The principle and credo of the Indali Lounge is to avoid butter and ghee in their foods altogether. We were eager to taste the results.
We arrived a little early so that we could enjoy an aperitif in the bar, which looked quite appealing on-line. Indeed it was chic and sleek, with sprays of lilac and Eastern influences. I enjoyed the house champagne cocktail an Indali Royale, whilst Keith chose a Passion Mojito. Our cocktails were served with light poppadums and three types of chutneys, all of which were delicious; onion, mango and mint.
The wine menu had a number of wines of good reputation a Gewürztraminer Pfaffenheim, Chateau-neuf du pape, Chablis. However, the menu was safe and unambitious. It would have been interesting to have had a choice of more experimental options. We picked the Gewürztraminer Pfaffenheim, which of course in a perfect pairing with spice.
For Starters I chose the Goa masala grilled prawns and Keith picked the Salmon in Kerala spice. Both were fabulous. You would not have an inkling that they were in any way low fat. Keith’s salmon had been slow cooked (one of Indali’s many methods for retaining flavour) and the texture was amazing. It was so soft it just melted on your tongue like ice-cream. There was some heat in the spice coated around the salmon, but it was not overpowering. My chunky prawns were also fabulous; Aromatic with just the correct amount of sweetness from the coconut. We were off to a good start.
For our main courses I picked the Chicken Tikka and Keith went with the Old-Delhi Chicken kofta curry. Both were fine tasting, but we did feel there was room for improvement. For example, the chicken tikka had all the correct flavours but was missing something in the consistency. We debated whether Indali Lounge should have perhaps called it something different, but I will come to that. Keith’s koftas lacked texture and the sauce needed a kick. The “naan” bread meanwhile was delicious. It was oaty and fluffy.
By dessert we were surprisingly stuffed, partly because we fell in love with the naan bread and when the waiter popped around with extra fresh hot bread, my weak willed nature kicked in, and I accepted an extra slice (or two). We decided to share a dessert of Homemade Fresh Kalakand Mawa with Almond & Pistachio which is a North Indian traditional desert of milk pudding concentrate baked with ground almond flavoured with saffron and cardamom, served with a section of Kulfi. The milk pudding was slightly too rich and sweet for our palates and the presentation was not great, but the Kulfi was fine and tasted of vanilla ice-cream.
We love the Indali Lounge concept of healthy eating, because we know that with fresh ingredients, texture, consistency and carefully crafted flavours it is possible to achieve amazing results. We believe that Indali Lounge has made a great start, one which we hope people will go and enjoy for themselves, if for no other reason than to have an opinion. There are some areas which we think they could improve upon.
Firstly, weirdly there is no dhansak on the menu. This is strange. A dhansak can be a great healthy curry with is packed with flavour and rich in texture and consistency.
Secondly, rather than linking back to commonly known dish like the tikka, they chould perhaps consider creating standalone Indali Lounge signature dishes. The fact that you constantly have this comparison in your mind, makes it harder to judge the curry for itself. In this way, for example, the naan bread, could actually be called a flat bread, which is what it more closely resembled.
Thirdly, where they lack taste through fat, they should concentrate on creating texture to their food. For example Keith’s koftas were made of fine-ground chicken. Had they used minced meat, it would have added coarseness to the food and therefore more of a contrast to the sauce.
We also felt that made they could cut back some of the sauce based curries and perhaps introduce sizzling or grilled dishes, which whilst healthy could also add some excitement to the menu.
Lastly, the restaurant should work on show casing their food. To that end, introducing a tasting menu of their signature dishes may be a great way of doing this. I walked away disappointed I had not had the opportunity to try more.
We hope this does not sound like a negative review as we really loved the concept of Indali Lounge and would consider returning, especially through a health kick period. We feel that even though they have been open for two years, they need further development to achieve excellence. We love their philosophy and look forward to hearing more about their successes in the future.