Stepping into Veeraswamy feels like entering one of India’s ancient temples; the walls are ornately decorated, patterned hand-woven rugs are scattered around the floor and a large twinkly chandelier is swinging from the ceiling, much like the opulent interiors displayed in the Maharajas palaces of the 1920s.
Established in 1926 by Edward Palmer, a great grandson of a retired Army officer and his princess wife, this atmospheric gem takes pride in cooking up the finest traditional recipes inspired by the southern and northern Indian regions.
Our table is by an antique floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the hustle and bustle of Regent Street. A must-try cocktail is the 1926, An ode to Veeraswamy with prosecco, vodka and Midori, garnished with a honey-sweet physalis fruit. Its green colour might not do it justice, but the bitter-sweet nectar lets you embark on a journey to India. If you like to keep things weeknight-friendly, there’s also a generous alcohol-free menu with sorbet-based drinks and virgin takes on time-tested classics.
We kick off with a selection of starters to share, all timelessly sophisticated. Our char grilled green king prawns generously glazed with green pesto are beautifully presented on a stoneware plate like a work of art. The lamb kebab balls then reveal a hidden surprise – a chutney-infused centre that balances the savoury taste of the meat. To wipe the sauce and to clean our palette, we try some naan fingers coated in olive oil and garlic.
Our waiter recommends a bottle of French Chablis to go with a main course of chicken Nimbu Dopiaza –a fiery twist on a classic chicken curry, dripping in a tangy tomato sauce and cooked with chilli, plums and spinach. The plums infuse with a delightful sweetness that makes this classic stand out.
We also try a lamb Byriani – an original recipe served here for over 70 years filled with chunks of heartwarming lamb resting under a bed of jasmine rice. I’d recommend to dig it all out and mix it on the plate with pineapple curry, a sweet lava full of coconut milk, mustard leaves and turmeric.
The dessert menu is short and simple, blending contemporary flavours with just the right amount of indulgence. We order a coconut and palm sugar brulee, classically simple and well executed.
As we sip on our espresso martinis made with Indian coffee beans, we realise why it’s easy to lose a sense of time at Veeraswamy.
To discover more and book, visit www.veeraswamy.com
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