Tamarind Kitchen in Soho, offers a memorable dining experience with authentic regional Indian cuisine, wonderful service and lovely decor.
Having opened their doors in April this year, Tamarind Kitchen is located on Wardour Street, and occupies the site of former Indian restaurant Imli Street. It is part of the Tamarind Collection of restaurants, which includes Tamarind of Mayfair (the first Indian restaurant to win a Michelin star) and Zaika.
The decor is a rich visual delight. Mottled jewel colours on the walls, and Rajasthani mirrors reflect a bygone era. Strategically placed blue lights give an impression of moonlight passing through cracks in the walls. While the wooden panelling, furniture and lights recall colonial times.
Zaika’s manager, the charming Jitendra Sahu, has been instrumental in the creation of Tamarind Kitchen. He now manages the restaurant and does a wonderful job. He has built a team of staff who work very well together and service is friendly and attentive. Alliston, our waiter, has a terrific sense of humour as does Devraj from Kolkatta as he explained the Bengali dessert which is from his home town.
As of August this year, the talented Chef Manish (formerly of Michelin starred Jamavar) has overseen the kitchen. His menu offers authentic regional dishes from around India ranging from Awadhi kebabs of Northern India to fish curries of the south. For vegetarians, there are several dishes on the menu and if requested, Chef Manish is happy to prepare a few more. There are some delicious examples of these below.
Poppadums are accompanied by a tasty trio of dips which are tangy, sweet and spicy.
Drinks are mixed with an Indian twist, using fruit with fresh red chillies, ginger or sweet tamarind – quite refreshing! There are lassis on the menu which are slightly thinner than a regular lassi so they are not too filling and can be enjoyed alongside the meal.
To start, we shared the Alloo tikki. These are smooth potato patties filled with spiced black chick-peas, covered in yogurt with a tangy tamarind sauce and green chutney, and delicious. We also had a small portion of a spiced quinoa and corn salad. Neither are on the menu but can be ordered as starters.
Jhinga Shimla Mirch are tandoor grilled tiger prawns with puréed red pepper and tomato. They use a coal fuelled tandoor (rather than gas) for the slight charcoal taste. The prawns remained beautifully moist with a nice crunch and the purée was incredibly tasty!
The Boti kebabs are marinated pieces of boneless lamb, which are extremely tender.
This is the best tandoori chicken, with truly authentic flavours which come together perfectly!
The Dal Makhni – my favourite! This slow cooked black lentil dal is on the menu at all three restaurants, so it is clearly popular.
For another dish, chicken tikka is simmered in a creamy and piquant smoked tomato sauce to make the Chicken tikka masala.
The Jaipur Gosht consisted of tender pieces of lamb in a rich sauce made with Kashmiri red chillies. It was wonderful with the parathas.
The mixed vegetables with fenugreek were lightly cooked so they had a bit of a crunch.
The Malabar prawns were cooked in a fenugreek and coconut milk sauce with green chillies. There is quite a bit of sauce requiring an order of steamed rice.
Baingan Barta, with roasted aubergine, onions, tomatoes and spices is not on the menu but is absolutely worth inquiring about.
For dessert, we tried a Bengali dish called Bapa Doi. Also known as Misti Doi, this is sweetened yogurt which has been steamed, and is served with a sour apple jelly in a glass jar. The yogurt was heavenly as was the sour jelly – and they complemented one another perfectly!
The second dessert was the chocolate brownie with a liquid chocolate centre and ice cream. This was lovely but the Bapa Doi and sour apple jelly was, for me, a clear winner!
Address: 167-169 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F8WR
Lunch: Tuesday – Sunday 12pm – 2.45pm
Dinner: Monday – Saturday 5pm – 10.45pm / Sunday 5pm – 9.45pm