I’m glad that I’m a bit of a foodie, because here comes my second restaurant blog entry of the week. Courtesy of my friends at Qype (and TikiChris in particular) I was down in Streatham earlier this evening at Chilli Chutney.
You can find Chilli Chutney amongst a small group of bistros just down the street from Streatham’s 1930s era Odeon Cinema, and it’s not at all what you’d expect. In fact, there’s no flock wallpaper at all – instead you’ll find a bright and airy modern space where you can even take a seat at the window to watch the world go by. The differences don’t stop there either, as this restaurant specialises in cuisine from Lahore, located in Pakistan’s Punjab region, so apart from the usual staples you’d expect to find there are a whole range of specialities, some of which are new to me, and I thought I was quite well-versed in food from the Indian subcontinent.
My main reason for being here tonight was to take part in a samosa-making event and so, after some introductions and a few samples of the restaurant’s dishes (including some slices of a very-moreish Roghni naan unique to the region – a soft, flat bread made with yoghurt and eggs and dusted with sesame seeds) we were invited to gather round for instruction on how to make the perfect samosa. Using a blend of eight spices, plain flour, water and the filling (in this case lightly spiced potato and peas and, for the meat lovers, lamb mince and peas) some of the restaurant’s expert chefs lined up to show us how it was done. They certainly made it look very simple and straightforward, but then I hadn’t taken into account the fact that these guys produce several hundred of these little parcels each and every day. My clumsy attempt, in contrast, was a disaster – I ended up with a scotch-egg shaped lump of pastry with a big bulge of filling in the middle which bore no resemblance to the delicate triangles the chefs were rapidly piling up on the table!
After the samosas that we had prepared were cooked and served we then sat down to sample some more of Chilli Chutney’s signature dishes. We were presented with a delicate lentil dhal and also an aromatic chicken achari (another speciality of the house), along with some more bread, including what I was reliably informed was a stuffed naan, but what a surprise! Clearly the cooking techniques from this region differ from what I’m used to, because instead of the bubbly, soft bread that is served at my local restaurant (and which, frankly, I find a bit sickly) this was dense and firm with a thin uniform layer of filling running through it. Like the rhogni we had tried earlier, it was very, very good indeed.
In summary, we had a very pleasant evening in very nice surroundings, and the food and service at Chilli Chutney was excellent. In fact, …