A new wave curry house makes a lasting impression on Thea Cheney as she heads to Clerkenwell to enjoy the Indian cuisine Queen Victoria helped make famous in the UK
With Jenna Coleman’s charming and doe-eyed Victoria hitting our screens every Sunday night, there is no better time to sample a new restaurant that is poised to compete with London’s finest new-wave Indian establishments. After all, it’s thanks, in part, to Queen Vic’s voracious appetite for Indian cuisine that we Brits have such an enduring and ingrained affection for Indian food.
Relaxing in the heavy heat of London’s Indian summer, enjoying the spice-laden aroma wafting from the kitchen, while immersed in an ambience created by Indian lounge funk melodies, I was temporarily transported to a buzzy New Delhi corner. Our cocktails arrived and I was back in New Delis, Clerkenwell, London.
New Delis prides itself on offering a new take on Indian cooking, seamlessly blending the ever popular trends of healthy, modern food with the novelty of customisable, flexible dishes. Balancing this approach to food is a stellar wine list (with house wines selected to bring out, balance and compliment the spice in the dishes) and cocktails with ingenious twists. The Jewel Thief cocktail – New Delis take on a lychee martini, garnished with a generous shake of turmeric and aromatic rose petals – was delicious.
The menu is extensive with a range of choices from street food, grills, make your own dishes, and chef’s specials. I tucked into my starter, BBQ Broccoli, which could bravely be compared to a broccoli rarebit, light and delicate to retain the vegetable’s soft distinct flavour, garnished with cumin seeds and just enough cheese melting into the flower to make it naughty but not too much to render it dense. The other starter was a Delhi Papdi chaat which combined papdi (delicious pockets of deep fried crackers), chickpeas, potatoes and zingy chutneys. It was fresh, spicy, warm, light and refreshing; cheesy broccoli’s perfect partner.
The main courses were generous, with the king prawn Punjabi dhaba, boasting prawns larger than Cornish lobsters, with just enough spice to moisten your brow. Our use of the novel ‘make your own curry bowl’ option, where you select your portion size, sauce, protein and then spice, culminated in a Lamb Butter Masala that was rich and creamy, but soft enough to be savoured in the heat.
New Delis also offer a ‘choose your own stir fry’ option, so whatever your predilection, this flexible and high-quality dining approach ensures you’re satisfied, whilst balancing subtle tastes and new flavour combinations in a way that will suit all palates, diets and conversations.
Chatting to the restaurant team their enthusiasm was contagious - they are truly trying to create a community where you can enjoy excellent food in a relaxed and calming corner of Clerkenwell. As they quite rightly pointed out - you can't be angry when you're eating curry – so perhaps we should all take a leaf out of Queen Vic’s book, who according to food historians had curry added to her royal menu to enjoy every day.