Namaaste Kitchen in Camden
Tucked away from the busy Camden high street you’ll find Namaaste Kitchen. A small, understated front is deceptive to the size of the restaurant inside. The décor is also different to what one will have grown to expect from a traditional Indian restaurant, but that’s because Namaaste Kitchen isn’t a run of the mill, typical curry house.
Sita music delicately brushes your ears and, thanks to being sheltered from what is happening outside, makes you feel in the moment. Spotlights hang from the ceiling, lighting your table without making you skint at your plate. And the plush leather comfort only aides the experience.
As it’s a weekday evening the place is quiet allowing the knowledgeable staff to be incredibly attentive. The appeal of Namaaste Kitchen is that they hold food festivals that last two months at a time. At the moment they’re celebrating the Gujarati region of India and their traditional dishes.
Before anything we order papadoms and a pickle tray; these have been lightly toasted and broken up into large pieces. Everything on the pickle tray comes in generous portions: a wonderfully sweet mango chutney, a subtle yet spicy coriander and mint dip, and a tomato and tamarind relish, which is a welcome addition.
We begin our Indian experience with Chilli Paneer and Jungle Style Chargrill Lamb Kebab. The lamb is pleasingly tender and is marinated in chilli flake adding a swift kick. The paneer, a soft cheese with a solid consistency, garnished with a small side salad and some crunchy red and green peppers, goes perfectly with the lamb dish.
The delightful starters are soon followed by equally exciting mains: a generous selection of Gujarati Lamb and Dumpling Stew, Kebab Platter, Sev Tameta Nu Shaak, accompanied by pilau rice, a special Gujarati rice and a plain naan.
The Gujarati lamb stew looked the most enticing; it has the velvety consistency of a korma, with a spiciness bound to be appreciated by any curry lover. The dumplings are soft and complement the sweet potato stewed in the sauce – and the lamb is so tender, it is beyond compare! The rice was almost like an Indian risotto: creamy and rich.
The Sev Tameta Nu Shaak, from the Gujarati menu, is a vegetable stew in a green tomato sauce topped with a crunchy bombay mix, a surprise ingredient which strangely serves the dish well. Although it makes a pleasant vegetable side, is does not rival the lamb as a main.
The mixed kebab platter come with sheek kebab, salmon tikka, malai tikka and lamb cutlets. It arrives on a sizzling grill, as is customary in any Indian restaurant. The sheek, salmon and malai are all fantastic but the lamb cutlet is a little dry and doesn’t match up to its grilled counterparts.
The naan is very much your standard naan bread, although they do not serve it as a whole, instead it is carefully cut up into quarters and placed in a basket – a nice touch. The pilau rice is not overwhelmingly fragrant and is complemented with lovely pieces of fried onions.
Dessert has often been lacklustre in Indian restaurants. Namaaste Kitchen have changed that by putting their subtle twist on usual favourites. The Mango Brûlée is just a bit too sweet, but is an innovative twist on a classic. The Mango and Coconut Brûlée Cheesecake is simply delicious; once you become accustomed to the slight crunch of the passion fruit seeds in the sauce, you are treated to a delicate cheesecake on a perfectly crafted biscuit base. The perfect buttery balance between crunch and mush.
The Gujarati festival menu will last until the end of May and if this meal is anything to go by, it will be difficult to resist returning to sample some Rajasthan food delicacies come June.
Photos: Matthew Pull
To book a table at Namaaste Kitchen, 64 Parkway London NW1 7AH, call 0207 485 5977 or click here.