Until last week, I had never visited an Indian restaurant (Whetherspoon’s “Curry Nights” definitely don’t count!). It was not an option growing up (there are no Indian restaurants where I grew up), and after I moved away from my parents, it wasn’t really either (my boyfriend is Indian and cooks. Enough said). But we passed the Delhi Grill a few times, and it looked kind of fun, and the menu “seemed legit” (his words not mine).
Colourful posters on the walls and a lot of happy customers… I loved the way they managed to mix quite traditional items (movie posters, Indian music and TV…) but remain modern at the same time. I don’t know how they did it, but it works and Islington’s youngster population seems to love it!I was given a menu but must admit I paid very little attention to it (when you have an expert right next to you, it would be foolish not to let him do his thing, wouldn’t it?). There seemed to be a decent balance of well-known “classics” and obscure dishes though. While we were waiting for our (quite extensive) selection of dishes, we nibbled on salad. Which apparently is pretty typical, except you’re meant to eat it with your meal (oops).We soon got something more substanscial to munch on though! The Delhi Grill Platter is basically a meat lover’s dream come true: you get an assortment of chicken tikkas, tandoori paneer and sheekh kebabs to share (or not). My favourite was the chicken, which was perfectly cooked and SO MOIST (my boyfriend says it wasn’t spicy enough, but I doubt anything ever is for him!😜). I also quite enjoyed the paneer, which wasn’t too squeeky and nicely spiced up but would give the lamb kebabs a miss as they were a bit too dry and not all that interesting in terms of flavour either. Then came one of the most fun things I’ve eaten in a while (or maybe even ever, but I’m still planning on trying jellyfish some time soon, so that might change!): Pani Puri. It’s a snack that people usually buy from food carts and it is made of little balls of crispy batter, filled with chickpeas, coriander and chilli, which you fill with hot coriander-y stock right before stuffing the whole thing in your mouth. The combination of texture is really worth a try!
From the snack menu, we also got Aloo Tiki, which is a dish of smashed potatoes topped with a spicy mix of chickpeas, coriander and tamarind sauce. I’m still not entirely sure how I felt about this one. It wasn’t bad, but something seemed to be missing to take that dish to the next level.
We also tasted a couple of dishes in the “from the pot” section. Butter chicken with nan bread was the most succesfull of the ones we tried. The balance of flavours was far from perfect (it was way too mild and spices seemed to have been skipped all together) but once again, the chicken was cooked to perfection and the texture of the sauce (a blend of tomatoes and butter) was absolutely perfect.
Rogon Gosht on the other hand wasn’t really successful: once again, it was a bit bland from the lack of spices, but the texture of the sauce made things even worse as it was quite watery and unpleasant.For dessert, we had Gulab Jamun (dough balls cooked in sugar syrup), which my boyfriend loved but I found a bit too sweet, and Pistacchio Kulfi, which he said wasn’t made quite in the traditional way and as a result was too ice-y but I enjoyed it anyway (especially since there were so many pistacchio bits in it and I’m a sucker for anything pistacchio!).
What: A modern take on your regular curry house.
Why: For the atmosphere, first and foremost. A few dishes are also worth the trip (basically, go for the ones you’ve never seen anywhere before and you should be fine).
How much: about £50 for 2
Where: The Delhi Grill, 21 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ