There probably aren’t many Londoners who haven’t eaten an outstanding number of curries, or regularly visited an Indian restaurant. Every area has its local, most people have a favourite dish – chicken buhna, spicy lamb, poppadums with lime pickle and mango chutney, you know what yours is. Some would say that England’s love for the cuisine has reached cheeky heights with the nation now actually declaring the curry a ‘British classic’. But through this evolution and love for the spice and flavour, the countries favourite food is taking on new and exciting twists with fusions that are original and fresh.
One of the pioneers of Indian fushion cooking is chef Sabbir Karim and his award winning restaurant Namaaste Kitchen. Situated conveniently on parkway in Camden, the restaurant has a great location and is just 5 minutes walk from the station. His unique skill is the product of over 20 years working as a purser with British Airways cabin crew. Traveling around the globe opened his taste buds to endless cuisines, which inspired him to infuse traditional Indian dishes with international flair. This is the reason you will see such wonderful things on Namaaste Kitchen’s menu like ‘Parsi Gosht Zardaloo – lamb with apricot and straw potato’, and ‘Tandoori Portobello Mushroom – marinated and filled with figs, cashew nuts, raisins, chilli, curry leaf and homemade cheese dressing’. Interested?
Specialising in grilling, the talented team of chefs can be seen holding mast in an open kitchen at the back-end of the restaurant, which provides live cooking entertainment and wonderful smells for dinners. All dishes on the menu are cooked one of 3 ways; using a traditional clay oven for tandoor dishes, with a sigri, which produces a coal flame for intense smokiness, and a hot iron griddle known as a tawa. A dish we tried off the grill during our visit was smokey chargrilled venison and beetroot. This plate really brought out the man in my dining partner (which was lucky considering he was a man and not a woman) causing him to turn almost primal, devouring the tender marinated smokey meat with drooling desire.
If you’re not a carnivore then vegetarian and vegan tastes are also respectively taken care of with a sophisticated range of meat-free, dairy-free and gluten free options; with chef Sabbir Karim all bases are covered. Refined touches were tasted right from the start as poppadum’s arrived with smooth tangy mango chutney, fresh coriander and mint sauce and suave tomato chutney. You may think this unnecessary to mention, but after eating so many gnarly harsh-tasting Indian condiments and greasy poppadums, it rang supreme. So moreish we had a second round and nearly ruined our appetite.
Next came spicy soft shell crab marinated in green peppercorn lemon sauce, coated in home made batter and served with spicy fig and prune sauce. Mains were tandoori rubiyan duck with roasted tiger prawn, glazed with pomegranate and star anise, served with tossed garlic and baby spinach; very skilfully executed. But the standout of the evening was a dish titled ‘Spicy lamb with roasted red chilli’s from the land of Forts and Places’. Tender lamb in a thick rich sauce with deeply spiced smokey flavour, eaten with fluffy light rice, every mouthful was divine.
Visually Namaaste Kitchen has a modern look with influences of retro style. Exposed brick, mood lighting, a fibre optic globed ceiling lamp with a tinge of 70s cool. It’s a comfortable dining experience with friendly fast service. For larger parties, booking a banquet table opposite the grill would prove a fun evening. But it’s also a trusty restaurant to visit during the week and spice up a boring Tuesday evening, as we did. If you finish your meals early enough there’s always the bright buzzing lights of Camden’s drinking scene to explore. Keep this one in the dairy for sure.
Namaaste Kitchen: 64 Parkway, London NW1 7AH
T: 020 7284 0222
Written by Justina Terese, Food Writer and Recipe Developer www.foodforaking.com