12 November 2015
Shoreditch is no stranger to Indian cuisine. World famous Brick Lane is home to some of London's busiest Indian and Bengali restaurants - going to university a mile down the road means I've become a dab hand at haggling for a hugely generous meal at a budget price and bring your own. And don't forget ever-busy Tayyabs.
But when it comes to more refined Indian dining, there's not so much of that around. Until now. The former Head Chef of the Cinnamon Kitchen, Abdul Yaseen, has opened Darbaar as his first solo project in Liverpool Street and it's a good'un. An opulent, ornate interior is designed to bring the feel royal palaces and courts of ancient India to London and an enormous open kitchen the food.
We were invited down to the opening last week. After picking up a cocktail from the smoking bar (luckily not on fire, just some strategic dry ice), we followed our noses to the main restaurant where tables were pushed back to give guests the chance to watch Abdul and the team at work, rustling up sharing plates to fight over. We got to sample a whole host of exciting flavour combinations - my favourites was the chargrilled paneer with cumin and spinach, and the lamb seekh kebab which came sizzling and spicy straight from the wood oven. There were small pots of the shrimp cocktails, small buns filled with curry and samosas crisp and crumbly.
The idea behind Darbaar's menu is a relaxed experience where sharing is encouraged and no king or courtier should stand on ceremony. Combining local produce with traditional recipes, Abdul's put some showstoppers on the menu. Spiced guinea fowl, anyone? How about a Keralan shrimp cocktail? This isn't your average Ruby Murray curryhouse - there's an impeccable chef's table with a perfect view into the kitchen - but a very welcome addition to the buzzing Broadgate Circle scene.
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