The air was chilled but the night was still young and despite our frozen fingertips, we raced from Chancery Lane to Bloomsbury, in search of modern Indian cuisine at Salaam Namaste. The two friends found it at last, tucked away in a small, quiet street away from the hustle and bustle of Central London, the fragrant aromas of spiced curries and naan breads wafting tantalizingly under our very own noses. We were welcomed by jovial staff, who shook our hands and smiled upon us with genuine joy. There smiles were infectious and we found ourselves smiling too, as we devoured the menu in one cursory glance. Presented with a bottle of house red, we toasted a glass, to old friendships and new beginnings, as we settled in for the ride that Salaam Namaste could surely afford us. The starters were first, we smelled them before they came, fragrant morsels of deliciousness that had us sighing with delight. I was the vegetarian and my friend the meat eater, two different starters but what were the outcomes?
We sank our teeth into our starters with relish, mine an Aloo Tikki Chaat, and hers a Venison Kofta. I wrapped my tongue around golden fried gallets of mashed potatoes, served over tangy chickpeas and raita dip, while she munched through pan seared mince venison spiced balls, tossed with fresh asparagus and baby corn. The flavours were sublime, the sauces were perfection and the scent of a delicious meal well made was nestled at the core of Salaam Namaste’s winning starter menu. Both of us were accustomed to Indian food, looking for cuisine that would both wow and surprise as, and surprised we sure were. The spices were undefinable, yet at the same time exquisitely laced through the aloo tikka chaat, while the accompaniment of poppadom and mango relish created a delicious paradox between sweet and savory, as we munched, crunched, lunched.
But what would we have for our mains I hear you ask? My usual chickpea curry- alas- twas not on the menu but a juicy paneer main would have me crying out for more. And when I told them… please Sir can I have more … Spice, they cried at last a girl who knows how to handle her spices, extra spices are on the way m’aam! And while a more unusual offering of a Moru Kachiathu, featuring sweet mangoes and green bananas cooked in yoghurt with green chillies, ginger and fresh curry leaves had caught my eye, the manager had promised that their infamous paneer would satisfy my hankering for a good spicy curry. As for the meat eater, she settled on butter chicken, although the waiter tried to persuade her otherwise, wanting something a little milder than the heat of the first round. The Paneer Lababdar arrived momentarily, Cubes of cottage cheese cooked with fresh tomatoes, capsicum and exotic Indian spices, finished with heavy cream. But the butter chicken was next in line, grilled chicken pieces in a rich creamy butter tomato & fenugreek sauce. The spice was hot, as we felt our bellies roar in appreciation, but would the heat be too hot to handle?
We conquered our mains with determination and gusto, spicy but not unconquerable. We chowed down on our special fried rice and dipped our naan laced with chilli’s and spice into our delectable main sauces, mine a tomato capsicum blend and hers buttered cream. And when our bellies became too full to manage, we begged for a doggy bag, desperate to savour our delicious food one last time. The starters were my favourite, but the fun wasn’t over yet, the mains had left the building and the desserts were next to play. As I watched the remnants of my Paneer delve back into the shadows, nestled in its plastic container home, we wondered what desserts would wrestle their way into our hearts and imagination? The two desserts crawled forward in victory at being chosen; mango and coconut brulee cheesecake for me and warm chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream for her, two polar opposites dancing in the same girl band.
But our wines were left mainly untouched, preferring instead the gentle soothing taste of fresh mint tea, served in a clear through pot for me and a latte for her. The fresh mint created a stark contrast against the mango and coconut brulee which laced the cake with a dozen layers of guilty pleasures to be enjoyed at night. And my friend too enjoyed the sweet taste of her warm chocolate pudding, oozing rich chocolatey goodness that had to be seen to be believed. They had no rasmolai, a summer pudding they told me, but I kept my fingers crossed that they would invite as back for more authentic modern Indian cuisine, one of the best I had tried to date. I had my favourites, as did my friend, but Salaam Namaste was up there, climbing up the top of the ladder to be noticed. As the guests began to leave and the grey sky turned into inky darkness, the other guests slowly began to leave, their movements slurred with wine, reveling in the intimate atmosphere of the Bloomsbury Indian haunt. Together as one, we wrapped up warm, shaking the hands of the manager as we left, heading out into the frosted darkness with hope in our hearts. And the very next day, as I came home from meetings, I tasted Salaam Namaste once more on the tip of my tongue, closing my eyes as the spices electrified me and coursed through the veins in my body. And it was magical.
What Are Your Thoughts On Indian Cuisine Are You A Fan? Are You A Fan Of Spicy Food?
Please note we were guests of Salaam Namaste and received complimentary food and drinks in exchange for this review but all thoughts are my own. As you know I am very honest with my reviews and Salaam Namaste was an excellent Indian resturant who not only serves halal meat for meat eaters but has a great range of vegetarian and vegan starters, mains and starters so that everyone can enjoy delicious modern Indian Cuisine.