Saturday afternoon and a family outing to hip Shoreditch. OK, Whitecross Street where alas, the food market is only open on Thursdays and Fridays. Husband had a meeting in a very swish cafe and the son and I thought we would mooch around a bit looking for Waterstones (gift for one of his friends) and the ubiquitous biryani. Two hours later we were slumped on a sofa in the swish cafe having failed in our mission although having thoroughly enjoyed our walk through beautiful London.
Waterstones was closed and none of the “Indian” restaurants appealed to us – me having come to the conclusion that I really abhor curry powder in my food and I am not going to waste time sampling biryanis that are full of it. Also, unfortunately the authentic Indian places here open only in the evenings when normal people who haven’t been up since 5am every Saturday dine out. Ah, well – one day we might join the hordes of ‘normal’ people, but till then it is lunch time or takeaway biryanis for us on Saturdays!
The husband tried to lift the gloom by suggesting that we go to Drummond Street, a place I have never particularly liked, but the prospect of finding an authentic Pakistani Kebab house that he used to go to whilst at Uni was quite tempting. And this is how we landed up at Raavi Kebab House, an innocuous little place, which looked like any Indian Auntie’s living room – so much so that I found myself lapsing into chaste, respectful Hindi as a reflex action. The waiters were lovely and charming and fawned over the son – “An adorable Chicken Tikka for an adorable boy?” (believe me it sounds very nice in lovely, flowery Hindi.)
We decided to have a takeaway and ordered Chicken Tikka and Chicken Biryani with curry on the side. Back home and the Chicken Tikka was out of this world. It was superb, spicy and completely catered for Asian palettes. Also, it was interesting to see that the biryani was dry and had to be mixed with the chicken curry to make it a complete dish. It looked absolutely delicious and I so desperately wanted it to be perfect because I liked the place and its waiters so much.
And was it?
Well, it was perfectly authentic just like something you would get at Auntie Naaz’s house for Eid. Therefore nice and healthy but it lacked the naughtiness of restaurant biryanis: the rich oily sheen, the decadent deep-fried potatoes and the faint taste of ghee. Here is how it scored on the biryanometer:
Rice grain separation – 5/5
Meat/veg harmony –4/5
Spice blend perfection – 4.5/5
Potatoes – NONE
Fried Onion Finish – None
Wet/Dry Index – Just right
Overall – 4.3/5 – son wants to give it 5/5 but I think he looking at this biryani through Chicken Tikka googles.
So whilst it was a perfectly decent effort, it did not exactly hit the spot on the naughtiness scale. Having said that I should hasten to add that it is definitely one of the better biryanis we’ve had and we will visit again although next time the Chicken Tikka Roll will be getting a lot of attention from me!