REVIEW: Salaam Namaste, Millman Street, Bloomsbury

Salaam Namaste is located down one of the many back streets of London, not far from Russell Square Station and has recently undergone a revamp of both its menu, and interior. The restaurant has won lots of accolades in its time and most recently become the winner of ‘Best South Asian Restaurant’ at the Asian Curry Awards and both The Guardian and Evening Standard have praised it in its time. I made my way down to find out exactly what head chef Sabbir Karim has up his sleeve to make this restaurant so well talked about.
Chile has long been investing lots of money into the marketing of one its favourite grape varieties Carmenere, something they say works very well with the loosely termed ‘curry’ and surprisingly i think it does, on the whole – though not with everything (unless you’re drunk). Salaam Namaste serve a bottle from well know producer Concha y Toro, a must to go with your meal. Some poppadoms and chutneys arrived before the meal, something us British can’t live without before delving into an onion bhaji. A fresh mango chutney, some mint sauce and a great (though spicy) tomato chutney went down very well.

For the festive period Salaam Namaste have launched a very attractively priced Christmas menu, starting from £15.95 a head and making its way up to £24.95 for some more luxurious ingredients. There are both new dishes, and some of their best sellers which make an appearance on the menus. For starter we opted for a house favourite, mackerel reichard from Goa. Two large pieces of blacked (but in a nice charred way) mackerel fish in a garlic marinade with a Goan tomato based sauce and zesty side salad. The fish had a lovely flavour but was a little overcooked. The Goan sauce on the other hand was excellent and worked really well against the fish.

The lamb seekh gilafi kabab was a mixture of good quality beef mince mixed with onions and pepper then cooked on a smoky charcoal grill. It very well executed, the meat was succulent and had bags of flavour. The side of coriander chutney had a nice zestiness to it and wasn’t overly spicy. A good, solid dish.

I opted not to make the mistake and order Laal Maas, something which i once regretted while dining at Star of India in Kensington. It is an incredibly hot dish. Instead we tried a vegetarian option and ordered bhindi mushroom. A huge pile of okra (lady fingers) and mushrooms in a dry masala spiced sauce. It was well balanced but perhaps a little too predictable and didn’t blow us away. I’ve had this dish so many times before elsewhere – and usually as a side. There is only so much mushroom one person can eat.

Jungle style turkey curry was a great dish for the festive season. Jungle curry is something that immediately makes me think of Thai cuisine, but the chef likes to play around in this department fusing together different cuisines. Here its served in some fantastic earthenware crockery revealing a dark, rich and intense flavoured curry with a lovely dark and burnt chilli flavour – but without all the heat. It was an interesting touch to add some strips of lemongrass and it added a nice bit of freshness to the dish. The turkey was overcooked, something that is incredibly easy to do so while i admire the festive approach, this dish could be great – but it just needs some good juicy meat.

The mains were accompanied by a peshwari naan which was filled with just enough coconut mixture for it to not taste sickly sweet. The rice was hot and fluffy but the dal makhani really stole the limelight. It was perhaps the best dal i have had in London to date. It was thick, rich, had a touch of spice and was both smoky and nutty at the same time. I filled myself up on it far too quickly then struggled to eat anything else, but it was far to good to leave.

For desserts i was torn between a guilty pleasure of mine, gulab jamun, but instead ordered the gajar ka halwa (Indian carrot cake). Its a lovely dish and very easy to make at home, with only a few ingredients needed to create it. Salaam Namaste really know how to cook it well. With a lovely hint of cardamom and a generous coating of pistachio pieces, it really was a treat. I’m not entirely sure if the accompanying coconut ice cream was home-made or not, but either way it was delicious. A great combination together and something which i would definitely return for.

Salaam Namaste is a cosy little Indian restaurant which serves both traditional food, and ‘British’ Indian dishes which are all so familiar from the local take-out. It’s definitely not the best Indian restaurant in London but in the small area around it, you’ll struggle to find Indian food as good, and as well priced.

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