DID you know that there are more Indian restaurants in London than there is in Mumbai?! So it comes as no surprise that finding your favourite Indian restaurant in London can feel like an absolute chore.
Yes, Brick Lane is supposed to be the place to go, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had a bad experience in Brick Lane but nothing has ever stuck out to me as the absolute best Indian I’ve ever had either.
So when I was invited to dinner by Chai Thali to come and try a different take to the usual Indian food you can find in London, I was absolutely thrilled!
Where is it?
Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street, Camden, London, NW1 0DU
I would have absolutely no idea that just off of Camden Town and hidden down a little backstreet named after the man and legend Nelson Mandela.
FUN FACT: Mandela Street was home to the headquarters of South African political party the African National Congress (ANC) in the 80s. It was this party that Mandela took charge of after his 27 year stint in prison, and it was with this party that Mandela became South Africa’s first black president and first democratically elected leader.
This information alone should be enough to want to set your two feet on Mandela Street and while you’re there… let me introduce you to a should-not-miss Indian dining experience!
Lets go inside…
The interior of the restaurant is modern and fun with different sections of the restaurant segregated and named after different parts of India. I absolutely loved the deco including barrels that maybe take you to less privileged parts of the Country, and then a few steps away you can be transported to more privileged parts with the function room that you can rent for all different occasions.
Now onto the eating bit…
We started with Pani Puri, because who wouldn’t want to start their meal with a food shot, amirite?!
“Panipuri is a common street snack in several regions of the Indian subcontinent.
It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (commonly known as imli pani), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion or chickpeas – thanks Wikipedia!
I can honestly say that never in my 26 years of life have I ever eaten anything quite like this dish. It was refreshingly flavourful with a hint of spice. Each second of eating this made you taste a different flavour, and feel a different texture.
It was an absolute delight and reminded me a little bit of the chewing gum that changes flavour in Charlie and the chocolate factory, you know the one that starts with Tomato Soup, moves onto Roast Beef and ends with tasting like Blueberry Pie.
Eating and drinking my way through Pani Puri is the closest to that I have ever been taken and that was really quite magical.
My next stop on the Chai Thali Express was an exceptional Butter chicken dish. While you can take the girl to a different type of restaurant, you can’t take her away from one of her favourite dishes when she see’s it… sorry not sorry!
The butter chicken was like the biggest, longest hug I’ve ever had. The chicken melted in my mouth before I could even think about chewing it and left me feeling like I’d experienced the greatest romance, when infant, I’d just shovelled food in my mouth.
While I’m not usually a pudding person as I’m all about that savoury life, the lovely bunch at Chai Thali managed to convince me otherwise and THANK GOODNESS that they did!
LOOK AT THE WHITE CHOCOLATE SAMOSAS, MANGO LASSI & GAAJAR HALWA!!!!
The white chocolate samosas were pretty much what they say on the tin. I don’t usually indulge in white chocolate as I find it too sickly, but on this occasion it was very far from that. The sweetness of the white chocolate was nicely balanced out by the crunchiness of the pastry and with the ice-cream that came with them!
Gajaar Halwa is a carrot-based sweet dessert. It is made by placing grated carrots in a pot containing a specific amount of water, milk and sugar and then cooking while stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios. This pudding was sweet, crunchy and truly delicious and an absolute must try for any of you foodies that like to give something a go even if it breaks away from the norm.
Lassi is a traditional yoghurt based drink. It is a perfect blend of yoghurt, water, spices and usually fruit. In the case of Chai Thali, they blended it with my all time favourite fruit, as if they already knew… Mango!! This was my favourite dessert of the lot as I absolutely adore anything mango based. If you picture the most delicious mango sorbet you’ve ever had the luck to eat, and then picture it transforming into a movie star princess then this is pretty much what the Mango Lassi at Chai Thali is like!
Now please raise your glass, and join me in a toast to Chai Thali, a wonderful Indian Street Food restaurant that will be far different from anything that you’ve ever tasted from Indian restaurants in England before!
This awesome cocktail was the Incredible India and was a super refreshing way to finish the meal. Plus, look how cool the cup it comes in is!!
While this meal was generously gifted to me by Chai Thali, all opinions are absolutely my own!