Machaan - A Great Addition To Chiswick

Penny Flood enjoyed her visit to the Indian restaurant


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Machaan is a new Indian restaurant at the east end of Chiswick High Road, almost in Goldhawk Road. It would be a shame if you haven’t noticed it yet as it is offering some very special food at everyday prices.

Cooking is in the very capable hands of head chef Dilshad Bhadur, (pictured above) who has cooked in some very smart venues all over the world. This includes the Intercontinental Hotel in Jordan, where he catered for a number of dignitaries including the King of Jordan and Bill Clinton. Now (lucky us) he’s brought his skills to Chiswick, where he aims to change the way we think about what he says is ‘true Indian cooking’.

As well as devising new dishes, he enjoys finding new ways to present the old ones. So, even things on the menu that sound familiar often have often been given a tasty twist, like the onion bhajias which come mixed with potatoes, crushed nuts and curry leaves.

The menu is quite short, with a good selection of meat, seafood, fish and vegetarian. We started with tandoori paneer khaas and aloo tikki chowk kee, both Dilshad’s own creations.

I love paneer so I am a harsh critic of it - a restaurant can stand or fall by its paneer in my eyes. And I’m very pleased to say this passed with flying colours. It consisted of four big triangles of paneer cooked to melting softness, stuffed with chutney, pickles, and vegetables and baked in a charcoal oven. The other Dilshad starter special was two large potato patties filed with a mix of spices, dates, ginger and cashew nuts and topped with a tamarind and mint sauce. Both came adorned with swirls of shredded carrot, mooli and beetroot so they not only tasted heavenly, but looked gorgeous too.

Portions are generous so, unless you’re starving or have a big appetite, one of these between two might be enough.

Other starters include familiar sounding (but maybe not familiar tasting) dishes like vegetable samosas and chicken tikka shashlik, as well as the unusual, such as gilafiseek lamb (minced lamb wrapped in fresh aromatic vegetables combined with ginger and spices), methi machehi tikka (fresh salmon marinated in spicy yogurt and cooked with fenugreek leaves) and jangli maans ke sule (flattened lamb marinated with crushed spices and cooked on an open fire).

For our main courses my companion had chicken tawa masala, and for me it was the sukhi meloni subzi. We shared a side dish of spicy chickpeas and a deliciously garlicky naan bread. The chicken was diced and griddled, spiced with roasted coriander seeds and crushed red chilli and served with a tomato and onion sauce. He described as being exceptionally tasty, like an intense rogan josh.

My sukhi was a vegetarian (and vegan) delight, a big dish of mixed vegetables in a spicy sauce with a touch of tamarind and asafoetida; a fabulous way to get your five-a-day. It was delicious and if a main dish of vegetables isn’t for you, it would make a great side dish.

As I said, all this comes with very down to earth prices. Many starters are around the fiver mark. The most expensive is £7.95 for jumbo prawns marinated in spicy yogurt. All vegetarian dishes are £6.95 for mains and £4.95 as side dishes, and the meat and fish main courses are in the nine and ten pound range, with one or two more expensive specials.

There’s a comprehensive wine list where wines come by the glass or the bottle. Prices for bottles are mostly in the teens and twenties but you can pay a lot more if you want something out of the ordinary or champagne. And there’s a selection of beers and lagers and cocktails.

Of course there’s a dessert menu, and if we had room we could have chosen from the gulab jamun (curd cheese dumplings in rose flavoured syrup), gajar halwa (Indian carrot pudding topped with cardamom and nuts), kulfi or a selection of ice creams and sorbets. They are also about a fiver.

My only criticism is that the service, although charming, was slow. Much of this is because the food is cooked to order, one reason why it all tasted so good, so any wait was well worth it – and you may also want to linger over food this good.

Machaan is a great addition to Chiswick. It’s an independent (there’s only one other branch, in Kingston), the food’s different and very classy, and with those prices you can eat very well without breaking the bank. And if you can’t make the trip to the quiet end of the High Road, you could give it a go through its takeaway menu, which has even lower prices.

Machaan, 12 Chiswick High Road, 020 8994 6022

April 15, 2013

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