Tamarind, London

My earliest memories of tamarind are as a teenager, sitting on top of a bus in South India, plucking the fruit from the tree overhead with my classmates and friends. Ah, those were the days, footloose and fancy-free for the most part, but there we were, plucking the hard brown fruit, snapping them open and sucking on the sweet and sour flesh and spitting the seeds out (or at each other). Ever since then, and being a good Indian, I’ve loved tamarind in all its forms.

Lets jump half way across the world to London. Tamarind here isn’t quite the sort of thing you can pluck from a tree and pop into your mouth. It is, however, one of the few Indian restaurants to hold a Michelin star, having done so under two different chefs, Atul Kocchar and, now, Alfred Prasad. Having only been once before for Sunday lunch and having liked it, a second visit was soon warranted and here’s the rest of the evening as we had laid out before us.

Papad, chutney
Tilapia
Tilapia

I’m not a fan of South Indian papads (poppadums), preferring their North Indian roasted, peppery counterparts, though the chutneys were quite nice. My starter of Tilapia & Mint Chutney Rolls was just a little underwhelming. There just wasn’t enough fish in there, and way too much gram flour batter – neither was it piping hot, which for a dish of this nature is a colossal let down.

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Kebab Selection
Chicken Curry
Dal
Dal

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Kebab Selection consisted of a lamb chop, monkfish and two pieces of chicken as we didn’t want king prawn on there. Whilst distinctly spiced in their individual rights, the selection as a whole was disappointing – weighing in at £25 for 4 pieces of meat is a travesty. Take, for example, Cinnamon Kitchen’s Mix Grill Platter where one gets Prawns, Lamb Seekh, Lamb Stuffed Pepper, Paneer Stuffed Pepper, Grilled Duck, Yoghurt Kebab and each with their own chutney and garnish all for £25. I’m sure I’m not the only one weighing up the two in this matter! .

Awadhi Chicken was much closer to the mark! A mild curry cooked with yoghurt and melon seeds, hailing from the Western State of Uttar Pradesh, particularly from Lucknow, one of India’s gastronomic centres. However, what I did get irked by, and that is just my personal pet hate, was the description of the dish as ‘chicken cooked in an aromatic sauce’. I think it goes without saying that all food, and especially Indian food, is aromatic, without the need to remind oneself that it is so. For our sides we had Okra and Masala Dal which ended up being my personal favourites.

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Chocolate Mousse
Pineapple
Gulab Jamun

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Ah desserts. A choice we really should not have made. The Chocolate Mousse looked straight out of the 80’s or something you’d find at a Garfunkel’s outlet, and didn’t taste much different either. The Tandoor Pineapple had barely seen the tandoor oven and was just a bit of barely grilled warm pineapple. The rose ice cream was the star attraction and as for the Gulab Jamun – they came with what only looked like someone’s spit on top for garnish. A thoroughly depressing selection of desserts, by no means expressing any skill, palate or personality.

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Tamarind isn’t by any means exciting or adventurous. The Indian takeaway across my house, Green Chutney, run by a Punjabi couple serves the same quality of food that Tamarind does, and probably with a whole lot more love and affection. There was no excitement, no passion, no beauty in what we ate, and it’s a shame that it should be grouped amongst the best Indian restaurants in London when it clearly isn’t.

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Overall Experience: 8
Food: 5
Recommend you go: 5
Website
Tamarind on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

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