I always love it when a restaurant really surprises me. Ones you have really no idea what to expect from them, but end up leaving you wanting to come back the next day. That’s exactly what happened when I visited PURE Indian Cooking in Fulham. An Indian restaurant with a visionary female head chef named Shilpa Dandekar, cooking dishes with passion which have been inspired by memories of India.
A lot of the menu here is very familiar, in terms of their names and ingredients – however look closer and you’ll notice modern twists and turns along the way. The classic samosa is instead filled with mixture of pounded coriander and goat’s cheese. Each is then served in a small shot glasses, one filled with a smooth beetroot dip, another coriander and the last, tomato chutney. Perfectly cooked, perfectly spiced and with not an ounce of oil in site. A must order when dining here at PURE Indian Cooking and what a way to start our meal!
Another lovely dish was one we got to try that wasn’t on the menu yet. A classic chaat dish with yogurt, tamarind chutney, onion, tomato and pomegranate – but those familiar shards of crispy bread were replaced by crispy kale. I loved that Shilpa decided to use a local vegetable instead to create what was probably my favourite dish. Another stunner was the pepper shrimps, tossed with black peppercorns and given a light batter coating from a most likely toss in flour before cooking.
The one thing about PURE Indian Cooking that surprised me most, is its decor. To be quite frank, from the outside it looks like your average curry house, but a little smarter and inside it’s similar. But once you start to look at the menu and the food starts to arrive, you quickly realise it’s anything but. A silky looking Mangalorean chicken was as refined as a curry could possibly be, balancing flavours and heat to absolute perfection and the chicken moist. A naan for dipping had a lovely ghee glaze to it and a refreshing side of asparagus and pine nuts with mustard and coconut was one of the most surprisingly and satisfying dishes I’ve eaten in a while. Tempting me enough to even recreate it at home.
I probably committed to my favourite dish already, but I’ve just realised I have another – two of them. Two dishes you look at and really can’t judge as a bowl filled with just one block colour, but take a bite and you’re transported to a place of pure refinement. The lamb sukke, a Maharashtrian style lamb curry cooked in dry spices had such a depth to it and was pushing the boundaries of both flavours and intensity. Not to mention how beautifully cooked the meat was, falling apart at just the sight of my fork. Equally as good was the side of lasooni palak – a bowl full of creamy spinach with garlic and fenugreek leaves. I could have eaten just this all night.
With barely room for anything else, I just about managed dessert – all in the name of research of course. An unusual but oh-so satisfying apricot halwa, topped with a cardamom crumble and scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. A very satisfying dish, though a little heavy so you’ll want to make plenty of space.
I loved how PURE Indian Cooking turned out to be such a pleasant surprise and completely surpassed all of my expectations. I understand the restaurants rather simple exterior/interior is most likely due to the fact that this is Shilpa’s first venture and so I really can’t wait to help but support it for the future. Excellent Indian cooking at affordable prices, located a short walk from my house, it’s not a matter of will I return – but simply when. Very soon I hope.
NB: I was invited to review and elements of my meal were complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.