Monday, 11 March 2013

Review - Hazraj

It was time for our fourth outing as a class. Since I'd insisted we go for Christmas dinner and also chosen the venue for outing #2 (overbearing? me?), it definitely wasn't my turn to choose which is evident from the fact that the restaurant was in Kentish Town. I've only had one previous foray into north London and that was to solicit work (I'm not a prostitute) in Hampstead. Eager described Hampstead as smelling like rich people - the smell of croissants apparently. It reminded me of what actually nice places look like rather than 'nice as London goes'. Kentish Town isn't quite the same but still different to these parts. The location was Hazraj, an Indian 'tiffin' place. I thought it would be in the Dishoom strain of restaurants. Not quite. It wasn't by any means a standard curry but the menu didn't have the same finesse. It was still reassuring to see a restaurant trying to do something interesting without it being food-blogged to death and hailed as 'the next big thing'. And the menu was interesting - it avoided the curries which Chutney's termed 'unabashedly Indian'. The ordering method was to choose a curry, rice, side and veg. Of course, I wanted everything because I'm greedy. Usually I have the opportunity to try at least two of everything as I make the Explorer share with me as sharing is caring. (Even when it's clearly only because I chose the inferior option of tuna mayo when I should've gone for beef and horseradish.) I don't expect similar opportunities to arise when the Explorer isn't around but I was in luck on this occasion. The Modellawyer and I were without our +1s despite the organiser's insistence that we bring them so the obvious solution was to pair up and pretend we're dating for the purposes of food sharing. Between us we went for the achari lamb, prawn bhuna, black dahl makhani, Peshawara naan, lasooni naan, traditional pilau and nimbu pilau. 
I started with the achari lamb. Now it's not that I think it wasn't done well but I've concluded that I didn't really like the concept not the execution. It was too tart and salty for my liking even when combined with the various starches. The prawn bhuna had the unique seafood sweetness that only ground coriander and prawn together can produce - it reminded me of my mother's. it was only at swapping point that we remembered the existence of the side dishes. Makhani dahl and regular mixed vegetables. I have little to say about the mixed veg as I tried hardly any of it. The makhani dahl I made a better attempt at and I'm sorry that I didn't finish it. Earthy and living up to its name - it's difficult to translate makhani but trust me. The bill was £23 and that included several glasses of wine and service. They'd given us free poppadums with homemade chutneys to start and that made already good value even better.

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