Tashan (Indian) – Hampstead, London
Aside from the cuisine itself, a few other factors we look into when deciding to review a restaurant, is not just the folks behind the venture, but also any meaningful past history.
While Chef Naveen Dogra may not be as big a household name as some other Indian chefs currently plying their trade in the capital, not only did he and two other partners manage to open Balham Social earlier this tumultuous year, but also Chook Chook in Putney Bridge in 2019, and [email protected] before that in Maida Vale near Lord’s cricket ground.
This latest one, which offers a fully Halal food menu, is with co-partner Dalip Kumar, and is located in the affluent part of Hampstead on Heath Street.
Despite the attractive presentation, the Shikanji failed to deliver on the zesty freshness of the lemon we were anticipating, simply because the mint leaves’ acridity left that unpleasant bitter aftertaste.
On the other hand, with just the right level of candy sweetness, the Tropical Fruit Punch was far better balanced, making this delicious concoction the clear victor.
How many mango lassis are served overladen with mango pulp? Well, this particular one turned out more milky than pulpy; thus, making it a far more enjoyable beverage than the usual servings you’ll typically find elsewhere.
DELHI CHAAT CORNER
Although the presentation could be improved, and while all the flavours – the sweet, the sour, the mint and the delicate spices – of a quintessential samosa chaat were accounted for, Tashan’s version stood out for how well-sauced the masala chickpea base was.RECOMMENDED
Being served at room temp, the chickpeas here were firmer in texture to provide some body, and combined nicely with the fragrant-fruity flavours of the mangoes, pomegranates and blueberries, as well as the sweetness of crunchy diced red onions to offer a deliciously refreshing chaat that’s perfect for these coming summer months.
Defined by its solid heat, these thick and hearty vegetable kebabs boasted a delicately crispy exterior, and a herbaceous, soft and tender interior, which we enjoyed.
And though these Hara Bhara Kebabs were garnished with a salad, their heat intensity was such that perhaps the option of an accompanying cooling agent might be an idea.
While we’ve had some exceptionally good ones in the past (Maison Bab’s ranking no. 1), these chunky florets of broccoli could have been grilled some more to add a smoky undertone to what was otherwise a mellow-sweet cream cheese sauce poured over the top. Decent enough without being anything exceptional.
A trio of outstandingly good, plump and tender king prawns, whose spicy marination offered a level of heat that lingered pleasantly on the palate. Don’t forget to utilise that fresh little salad as a palate cleanser in between bites.
When you have battered fish that’s crispy-cum-crunchy on the outside, and moist and aniseedy courtesy of the fennel, you know you’re half way there.
When you add to that a creamy garlic sauce, which succeeds in taking this Amritsari Machi to the next level, you know you’re onto a winner.
Yet, as good as the above was, these Awadhi Lamb Chops were the weakest aspect of this review, turning out relatively dry on the inside, in spite of that familiarly flavoured Indian marinade.RECOMMENDED
Were these arguably the best keema pavs we’ve had? Indeed, with a balance of spices so masterfully achieved that, despite the degree of heat therein, at no stage were our palates overwhelmed.
To the contrary, we luxuriated in the richness of the creamy mince, and its accompanying buttered bun, one satisfying bite after another.
The taste of this lentil dish, like its preparation, grew and developed over time with each given spoonful. This deeply rich and velvety dal, with a tangy edge to the tomato base and a touch of heat, was so carefully measured and delicately balanced that the words ‘strong’ and ‘pungent’ had no meaning here.
This Corn Palak was all about the fresh, green goodness of the spinach-based mixture, its clean flavours, and the gentle heat that came through in gradual waves. Quite delicious.
Chef Naveen Dogra has some talent in being able to infuse a dish with strong spices, and yet temper them in such a way as to remain palatably enjoyable.
In the case of this Lamb Shank Madras, then we honestly couldn’t pick a winner between the utterly tender leg of lamb, which flaked apart at the merest glance, and the perfectly balanced curry sauce, whose spicious heat baffled our buccal cavity and tantalised the tastebuds. This is one of the best we’ve had in quite some time and an incredibly addictive eat.RECOMMENDED
And yet another example of a curry exemplifying absolute precision and harmony of spices. Whilst the sour edge of the tomato was superbly counteracted by everything else therein – the chicken also being cooked bang on – this was more a creamy than buttery version of the classic Butter Chicken.
RICE, BIRYANI & BREADS
This family naan was absolutely right on the money, both in terms of texture and thickness. In addition, the lightly flavoured Chilli Garlic Naan was equally good.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- JUST EAT
- UBER EATS
If we're being honest, given Chef Naveen Dogra's relative obscurity (he struck us as one who's committed to what he loves best rather than seeking after the limelight), his evident knowledge and skill in being able to infuse a dish with strong spices, and yet temper them in such a way such that they remain palatably enjoyable, took us by surprise.
This place has only been open a few weeks; so it's only a matter of time before they iron out any shortcomings. And yet, some of the dishes we had won't just live long in the memory, but could be in with a shout for an #FtLionAward at the end of the year.
Don't forget that we've teamed up with them to offer our readers a massive 50% off the entire menu for a table-for-2 booking valid Monday to Thursday until 15 July 2021.
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