Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Curry Leaf East

The weather in London has taken a turn for the worse. It is so cold that my nose and ears go numb when I step oustide and take in the cold London air. Yesterday though, I decided that I could handle a little pain if it could bring me closer to a hot Indian meal.

I have been working on a deal that just completed yesterday. I had to celebrate the end of a long series of 13-17 hour days in the office! It's not over for good of course, but I will have some respite until the next deal comes along. It would have been too tame to just head back home after what had been my shortest day at work in a very long time and just eat a quiet dinner at home by myself with just BBC iPlayer for company.

So off we went - my friends, P and A and I - to the Indian restaurant closest to work, which happens to be Curry Leaf East on City Road.

I am reliably informed that Curry Leaf East is Bangladeshi run. I must admit that I am somewhat prejudiced against Bangladeshi run restaurants that claim to serve authentic Indian food. Brick Lane is full of them. Of the things that upset me about this breed of restaurants is how they Bangla-fy the names of everything on their menu. So Dal Makhani is Dhal Mokhni, Paneer Butter Masala is Poneer Butter Mossalla. Urrgh. The list is endless. 

I have been to Curry Leaf East a few times now, and have never been disappointed. The prices are very reasonable especially given the location (minutes away from Moorgate station), the quality of the food is consistently good in my experience and the staff are friendly and attentive. Not to forget the tiny orange flavoured chocolates that they hand out at the end of every meal! P and I asked for extras this time round, and they indulged us very happily. The food does tend to be on the heavier side, but hey, I suppose one can't be counting calories at an Indian restaurant!

We started the meal with tandoori shora, a grilled paneer starter which was meltingly soft, very well marinated and delicious, and an aloo tikki variant called aloo tiki pithi wala. The latter was superb! They got it just right - crunchy outer coating but soft inside. Yum! 
Tandoori shora

Aloo tikki pithi wala

For main course, we ordered roast duck, dal panchmeli (translation: chana dal) and saag bhajji. The roast duck was my call. What a mistake. The dish consisted of slices of cooked duck meat in a gooey tomato gravy. The gravy was the usual flavourless tomato gravy that is the mainstay of the average Indian restaurant in London into which you can dunk any old thing (paneer, vegetables, chicken) and call it something fancy like "paneer pasanda" or "shahi murg". In summary, an utter disappointment.
Roast duck

The saag and the dal though, were class acts. The dal was excellent. I was so glad that we decided to ditch the usual dal makhani and go for this one instead. The dal was cooked just right - the texture of the chana dal was still intact, but it had been cooked well enough for the dish to be creamy. What really stood out was the onion tadka, which often gets lost in a large pot of dal. Not on this ocassion though. The flavour rang out clearly and definitely got the dish extra points on my scale. I am not a big fan of greens generally, but am happy to report that the saag, too, was excellent.

Dal panchmeli

Saag bhajji

I have a huge sweeth tooth and inevitably order dessert in some shape or form at the end of a restaurant meal. This time, I silently lectured myself when we were handed the dessert menu and managed to say a quick "no" to dessert before I could change my mind.

We shuddered at the thought of stepping out into the cold and braced ourselves for the icy chill as we left the restaurant. But after that nice, hot "Indian" meal, as we headed back to the tube station, somehow the cold was much more bearable. 

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