|It's A Family Affair|
Karma’s take on modern Indian will give curry houses a run for their money
Karma, Chiswick’s newest Indian restaurant, opened last week so I went along with a friend to see what this latest addition to Chiswick’s eating-out scene had to offer.
Karma is where Woodlands used to be at the Goldhawk Road end of the High Road. It’s still part of the Woodlands group and the new manager, Rajat Sood, is the son of the businessman who launched the chain in the UK. So it’s almost a family affair, although Woodlands is an international chain of South Indian vegetarian restaurants. There are four in London but Karma is not a chip off the old block. It has broken away from its South Indian vegetarian roots to offer a range of curries which include meat and fish. Fortunately, hasn’t morphed into a standard Bangla restaurant. Anything but.
The menu is short but it doesn’t lack choice and variety. Several South Indian favourites are still in evidence: bhel poori, sev poori and medu vada among the starters and a selection of dosas and uthappams with chicken, lamb and vegetarian toppings among the main courses. Dosas and uthappams are made from lentils and rice, and are best described as Indian takes on crepes and pizzas. The rest of the menu offers variations on the more familiar themes of samosas, chaat, tandoor, curries and thalis.
We both started with dishes from the vegetarian small plates, friend had bhel poori which is spiced puffed rice and I had medu vada, lentil donuts with tamarind and coconut sauces. They were both good but her bhel poori was the winner: light crunchy rice with some delicates spices. Both portions were generous and if you’re not starving, one between two people would be fine.
For our main courses I had paneer tikka with a vegetable curry and she had chicken thali. The paneer tikka was cooked in the tandoori oven with chilli, garlic, lemon and ginger. There were five or six big slabs of paneer and all I can say is that it was very, very good; soft and melting, cooked to perfection with plenty of chilli for a kick. The accompanying vegetable curry showed Karma’s South Indian roots, it was creamy and mild and went well with the paneer.
The thali was declared wonderful. The Karma menu says a thali is a large platter holding a variety of dishes. That was an understatement. As well as the chicken curry, her platter contained two vegetable curries, one lentil curry, raita, a papadum, chutneys, a chappati and rice.
For dessert we shared a mango kulfi. Friend declared herself too full to eat more than two spoons full which was nonsense. Once she’d tasted it she polished off her half with great relish!
In the blurb on the menu and their website Karma declares itself to be ‘cool and contemporary and offering good quality healthy Indian cuisine.’ Judging by our experience that’s pretty close to what they have achieved. Our food was light, low fat and delicious. It’s also a nice place to sit in - the decor is a sophisticated mix of subdued red and lemon with smart wooden furniture and squashy sofas with a low table for people who come in for a snack or a drink while they wait for their take-aways.
It’s still a little work in progress. Rajat is going to put some blinds at the windows to hide Chiswick High Road and the traffic. At the moment large plants do the trick.
And the prices are pitched right for today’s economic market. Starters range from £4.25 and £5.75 with most main courses between £6.50 and £8.99 slightly more for some of the thalis. There is also a good, well priced wine list. Our meal came to £45.75 which included a very good bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. But the portions are large and you can eat well for less.
At lunch time they offer Karma rolls. These are described as fresh bread rolls coated in an egg batter and filled with chicken tikka (£4.75), masala lamb (£4.95) or veg (£4.75) All have a chilli symbol beside them so they are spicy. Another nice touch is a children’s menu for £4.75.
Personally, I’d say the arrival of Karma is a good thing for Chiswick. Now that Geetan Jali has gone and Ochre has become Lebanese the Annapurna is our only curry house in the High Road. Karma’s take on modern Indian is going to give them a run for their money.
April 18, 2009