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It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, reviewing restaurants. For my visit to Rajdoot, I finished work at 7pm, rushed across town to make a 7.30pm reservation, parked in the wrong place and ended up walking a mile through an icy gale - hastily thumbing Google Maps on my iPhone - and turning up 10 minutes late, full of apologies. My date informed me that the restaurant had a party of about 20 people in at the same time as us, which never bodes well. By this point I wanted to be home, in pyjamas, with a bowl of chips.
But to the credit of the excellent staff at Rajdoot, within five minutes I was happily ensconced in the cosy dining space, surrounded by bronze Hindu goddesses and poppadoms - and an hour of being thoroughly spoilt began.
Rajdoot are stalwarts of the Jewellery Quarter, priding themselves on smart, authentic Punjabi cooking. There’s an emphasis on tandoori and the classic dishes of North India, served up in their very smart dining room. They call themselves a fine-dining restaurant, and that’s true, but it’s not remotely stuffy. Rajdoot are offering the Indian food we all recognise, but with the difference that they execute it really, really well.
Ever greedy, my date ordered the Rajdoot platter to start. The chicken shashlik, shish kebab and tandoori chicken were tastes of tandoori excellence, whilst the samosa managed to be crisp without being remotely fatty.
For mains, we ordered the classics. The rogan josh was the best I’ve ever had. The lamb, so tender that it shredded at the mere sight of a fork, was enveloped in a slow-cooked sauce rich with tomato and Kashmiri chilli. Intensely rich, it was tempered by the sweetness of the Mughlai Kofta - vegetable dumplings in a sweet, creamy gravy - and a tarka dal tempered with roast cumin. Incidentally, the vegetarian menu at Rajdoot is lengthy, which always gets a cheer from me. The pashwari naan was decadence itself, drizzled with gorgeous honey.
The best came last, though - a plate of home-made kulfi. Elegance itself, the nutty-sweet ice was faintly aromatic with rose-water and dressed with cream and pistachios.
I often get a curry hangover after this kind of food - so many restaurants laden their curries with salt and ghee. Not here. Rajdoot are serving up food to make you happy, with service to put even the grumpiest city-worker at ease.
**** Helen Stallard
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