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Namaaste spices up the lunchtime menu

Parkway restaurant’s adventurous owner is reinvigorating the idea of what an Indian menu should look like

05 October, 2018 — By Tom Moggach

Starters are presented as ‘small plates’ – an Indian tapas

WHEN you feel a style of food is pretty much perfect, is it worth a restaurant trying to soup it up, create a fine dining experience, give it airs and graces? Or should they just stick with what we all know and love? Should they concentrate on the tried and tested?

Namaaste Kitchen, in Parkway, Camden Town, has long been known for its quality curries – but proprietor Sabir Karim is a brave and adventurous foodie, and perhaps doesn’t want to be stuck in the same old kitchen rut, churning out the admittedly delicious curries we’ve all eaten a trillion times before.

No – instead he has the courage to do his research, get into his kitchen, and try out new things.

And for those of us who love a curry, we should be sending thanks and praise in his direction, for Naamaste Kitchen is reinvigorating the idea of what an Indian menu should look like.

They recently relaunched the lunch menu, and it was this we set our eyes on.

Choices range through different styles – the chef specials, grills, curries, biryani, small plates and chaats – and all offer something radically different, taking the best of traditions but then spinning them in new directions.

We set about working our way through the new menu, and at the top was a list that I need to revisit to really do them justice. Rather than call them starters, Namaaste says they are “small plates” – and I can imagine a meal consisting solely of these, like an Indian tapas. A Tandoori cooked portobello mushroom comes laden with figs, cashews, raisins, green chilli and curry leaf in a cheese sauce – it has elements of Iranian inspiration here (rice and raisins being a classic Iranian combination), and tastes as interesting as it sounds. Prawns arrive, simply tossed in chilli and garlic – while scallops are encrusted in a cuminy, puffed rice and red onion mix. It is adventurous, inventive, but not creative simply because they are trying to stand out. They have taken solid ideas and run with them.

There is a new chaat section, too: originally a roadside snack, the name originates comes from Hindi, meaning a delicacy, and also the Porakrit, which means to relish or eat noisily. And oh how

I scrunched and slurped my way through a dish called a Chatpati Tokri Chaat: it’s a basket made out of deep-friend potatoes, which is a beginning of a dish which sets its sights high. Inside is a glutinous mixture of lentil dumplings (a crisp exterior, crumbly interior), chickpeas and then a mixture of cucumber, pomegranate, tamarind and yoghurt to offset it all.

Much on the menu references tandoori cooking– I chose the Tandoori Malai Broccoli Shashlik. A good flurry of chunky cut broccoli, marinated in a mixture of onions, cheese and cream, and then char-grilled in the tandoor. It’s deep green, browned, creamy yet spicy…delicious.

The meatier areas offer baby lamb chops with a side of mashed potatoes – the lamb reeks of ginger and garlic and is soft to the fork. There is chicken tikka, with a lime and coriander twist, Goan fish, chicken tikka masala and a chicken or lamb Jalfrezi.

Naamaste has always had great food at reasonable prices. It’s new lunch menu celebrates this.

Namaaste Kitchen
64 Parkway, NW1 7AH
020 7485 5977
www.namaastekitchen.co.uk

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