Indian food comes in various guises. Sweet, even sour and often very hot. Punjabi cuisine is not known for its hot dishes. It’s more about bbq’d food flavoured with generous doses of herbs, tandoori dishes and sometimes creamy marinades. And I was about to find out if Bombay Palace restaurant in a hidden corner of central London, was testament to that.
Bombay Place has quite an interesting heritage being part of an international chain that stretches from New York and Beverley Hills to Kuala Lumpur and Hyderabad.
Yet this branch is tucked away. Yes, it’s in Marble Arch in central London but it is hidden in a triangle of streets called Connaught Village, and further secreted away beneath a block of flats in Connaught Street.
The brand was started by a former fighter pilot Sant Singh Chatwal in 1920. Chatwal hailed from the Indian half of the Punjab region that divides India and Pakistan and the menu reflects that region.
The entrance is pretty unremarkable and I almost missed it. So when I walked in I was quite overwhelmed with its expansive size and plush furnishings in hues of red and gold creamy walls, polished cream tiled floors and pretty contemporary style chandeliers.
There’s lots of daylight too and I got a table by the large windows. This is a spacious restaurant and happily there’s plenty of space between them, so no eavesdropping. The ambience was one of decorum and professionalism with just the right amount of service intervention.
The Chef is Harjeet Singh, a tall man who trained at Bukhara in New Delhi. He then created the dishes at the Bombay Palace in Kuala Lumpur for some eight years. His latest stint at Connaught Street has lasted some 17 years and if his smile is anything to go by, he will remain there for some time yet. This is good tidings, because the food here is very good.
I started with a variety of three breads: onion nan stuffed with chopped red onions, tandoori nan, a flatbread brushed with butter and Roomali Roti, a paper thin bread which I ate with my forthcoming kebab.
These came with Tarka Dal, a lentil dish tempered with cumin, chopped onion, ginger and garlic and Paak Paner – cottage cheese cooked with creamed spinach, cumin seeds and garlic.
Then came three dishes: Dahi Batata Puri, a plate of gorgeous lentil puffs that had a tangy mix of bean sprouts, coriander with yoghurt, mint and tamarind chutney.
The second was Jaipuri Bhindi with shredded okra marinated in flour batter and fried to a crisp. The third, a kebab platter with barbecued lamb and chicken. Yes, this is as mouthwatering and flavoursome as it sounds.
Then it was Murgh Tikka Makhani. I went for this because I am a chicken fan and this was a dish of chicken morsels in white butter, cream and tomato gravy.
I do like potato with my meals so I added Jeera Aloo, potatoes tossed with cumin seeds, ginger and spices and coriander. And of course had to taste the Jeera Pulao rice, a basmati rice cooked with cumin and topped with fried onions.
Ok I admit, I splurged and this was an incredible amount of food, but when it’s this tasty it’s hard to say no. But I did say no, there was simply no more room for desert so I’ll leave that for you to check out.
Tube: Nearest tube station is Marble Arch
Bus: Numbers 13, 27 and 205 stops nearby
Per head: £30
Find out more: Bombay Palace
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