There is no greater compliment I can give to a restaurant serving North Indian food than that it reminds me of my mum’s home cooking. So it’s not an accolade I give lightly.
It is one I give to Delhi Grill having finally made my way to this new Chapel Market Indian restaurant in Angel Islington last month.
May it be the first visit of many. Many, many.
Based on a traditional Indian dhaba – a casual canteen or restaurant stop serving tasty, inexpensive local dishes to a really wide range of clientele, from truckers and rickshaw-wallahs to suits from nearby offices – Delhi Grill doesn’t follow the usual British curry house propensity for long, long menus. Instead it offers a short, balanced range of traditionally cooked dishes, many cooked long and slow after overnight marinating.
In addition, during lunch times and and on Sundays (when the Chapel Market Farmers Market is on) you can buy freshly made wraps and lassis from the Delhi Grill market stall set up in the street outside the restaurant.
(The stall has been winning over customers since May, the restaurant opened mid-September).
Delhi Grill is a proper family business. Brothers Aman and Preet Grewal wanted to create a down-to-earth restaurant serving the kind of food Indians cook and eat at home. Recipe development is lead by Preet’s wife, Satpal who has drawn heavily on family recipes from parents, aunts and cousins. The three together have spent many hours tweaking each recipe and continue to review dishes regularly.
Also vital to the team is Ashik, restaurant manager, who ensures that the stall and restaurant are running smoothly while Aman, Preet and Satpal look after the recipes and work behind the scenes. In the kitchen, chefs Ashraf and Shamshu make sure that the dishes sent out are exactly as they should be according to Satpi’s final recipes.
The menu is short and sweet (though with plenty enough to tempt) and we’re quickly ready to order.
Pete drinks a large Bangla (£3.75) from the range of Indian beers, most available in small and larger bottles. A strong, simple lager designed to compliment Indian food, it does the job.
I can’t resist the lassi (£2). It’s lovely – light, frothy and a proper natural yoghurt flavour. It’s very much like what I whizz up at home and perfect with the food to come.
We start with the Delhi Grill (£6.50). Four chicken tikka pieces, two lamb chops and two sheekh kebabs piled over sizzling onions are served alongside three condiments: a coriander chutney, beetroot and garlic and one other.
The chicken tikka is the first surprise. Typically, this is a dish I feel so-so about. It’s chicken. It’s been marinated. It’s been grilled. It has no sauce and is often a bit dry. But this is quite a revelation, mostly because of how very juicy it is. Moist spicy chicken goodness; definitely one we both love.
The sheekh kebabs impress too because they taste just like my mum’s. And I love my mum’s home made kebabs! Gently spiced, a traditional texture (though I also have a soft spot for the very finely minced Dishoom version) and as moist as the chicken tikka, these are really rather good and disappear far too quickly. I could eat a lot of these.
The lamb chops are good but don’t wow me as much as the other two grill dishes. They have been slow cooked, cooled and then marinated before being grilled so there’s no juicy pink inside, though they are reasonably tender. But the main issue for me is my addiction to chargrilled lamb chop fat and these chops don’t give me any! Perfectly nice but their plate mates win the day.
Oh and I mustn’t fail to mention the onions. I think of these as mere garnish but the onions on the platter are so tasty we eat every last piece.
rogan gosht; cholay; matter paneer
For our mains we choose rogan gosht (£6.95), cholay (£3.95) and matter paneer (from the specials board, £5.95) plus a naan (£1.50) and a raita (£1.50) and a couple of rotis (£1 each).
The rogan gosht (lamb curry) consists of tender, juicy pieces of lamb (no cheap, gristly cuts in sight) in a rich, deftly spiced tomato sauce. The traditional recipe and slow cooking really shine through. I really like this.
The cholay (chickpea curry) is another dish that is just like mum’s. Unlike many Indian restaurants, the spicing is completely different from the lamb curry. The chick peas are cooked as I like them; the balance between soft and firm is just right. For me this and a pile of freshly cooked rotis is the next best thing to going home to mum.
Yet again, the matter paneer (cheesy peas, as I’ve heard it called) has it’s own blend of spices and is distinct from the other two dishes. This time the recipe is quite different from mum’s, though it’s clearly still a Northern Indian family recipe. I love the firm cubes of fried paneer and slippery peas. This one is Pete’s favourite.
One thing I really appreciate is the freshly cooked rotis. During our meal we watch roti-wallah, Gautam, roll and cook them for us and other tables. When the restaurant is packed, I’m told that the main kitchen also gets roti-making to meet demand. For me, they could do with a little more browning but taste, texture and thickness is spot on.
The naan isn’t bad either though my personal taste is for it to be a touch thicker. It’s decent but I’m won over by the rotis, delivered piping hot as they’re made.
Raita is a simple dish – natural yoghurt, cucumber and a light sprinkling of spices. It goes well with the rest of our order and balances the chilli heat of the dishes.
After all that, we are far too full for pudding; in fact we take away leftovers for the next day as we can’t even finish what we’ve ordered!
Our bill is just under £30 before service (though the rotis were being offered to guests to try during our visit so the four we had would normally add another £4 to the bill). I think this is a great deal in London and just wish Delhi Grill were my local Indian restaurant!
After our meal we take the opportunity to chat to owner Aman. You can watch my impromptu interview here. I didn’t plan to do an interview, so I didn’t prepare any questions – these are a little spur-of-the-moment. Not too incoherent, I hope!
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!20 Comments to "Home-Style Cooking at Delhi Grill"
I've walked past this place so many times now, and it's never been the right time to go and eat there, but after all the good reviews I will have to make time.
Dave, definitely pop in!
Can't wait to try this! Thanks for sharing
That's it. I'm going. I grew up with a host of Indian friends and damn but I miss their Mums' cooking. I used to work right by there, shame I moved on! (the job was crap though so hey)
Ooh, this looks really good! And it's really cool that the rotis are made in front of you!
there can be no greater lure than the description of the food matching mum's cooking. looking forward to trying it soon!
Went there with Kavey and Pete this evening and have to say it was really fantastic. Very friendly staff and the cooking was excellent. Thanks for showing me this Little gem of an Restaurant. Dirk from Germany
Exactly the sort of tip I'm always after. Thanks Ms Kavey! I shall be trying.
I so wish Delhi Grill was my local Indian as well. The food is really good and I was overly gushy about it on my blog.
It sounds like a great place to visit, and I love the fact that the menu is simpler than the traditional curry house. And if it can hold a candle to your mum's stellar cooking, it has to be well worth visiting. Wish it were closer to south Florida….
I've been meaning to get in here after trying their rotis a few months ago but it's always felt just a tiny bit out of the way and essentially I've been lazy.
No more though, you've forced my hand with this, I think a trip will have to be in order this week!
Brilliant post Kavey, I wish I knew how to blog like you or get talking to owners/producers etc. Generally I'll just go, eat, and maybe write about it but getting all the background info of the restaurant set up is so interesting and adds so much more. Plus the video didn't seem impromptu at all so if you hadn't said it was I never would have realised 😉
Wen, hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Lisa, what I love most about it is how much like my mum (and wider family)'s home cooking it is.
Mr Noodles, nothing beats freshly made rotis, it's just spot on.
Girish, absolutely! Not an accolate I give lightly!
Dirk, so pleased you enjoyed it as much as we did.
GD, I know you'll love it!
May, I remember your review and know you've enjoyed it hugely!
Lee, yes a bit of a dearth of Indian restaus in Florida, as I recall!
Becca, go go go, you know you want to! And thanks for your comments about my posts and the interview. Very kind. For me, it's a huge pleasure to be able to meet and talk to owners and producers, as I do believe that passion shows through in the final product. Was a real pleasure to meet Aman.
Okay now I REALLY have to go. Damn my stupid schedule! I spent so much time in various Indian houses as a teenager. My Sikh friends introduced me to the wonders of fresh pakora, my Hindu ones to sabji and OMG fresh roti and the veggie food at my Gujarati friend's house was heavenly. Srikand was a revelation I tell you. 🙂
Oooh, definitely one for my list! Thanks! (Shame I'm not normally in that area though!)
Lisa, oh then you really must visit next time you're in town!
Su-Lin, same for me, though it's easy enough to get to for me, being on the Northern Line as I am. But Angel is not a regular haunt of mine. Might be more often now, though!
I am already looking at my diary to see when I can fit it in. *grin*
I am so glad i'm not the only one who loves the fatty bits on the lamb chops 😀
Sounds and looks fabulous. I have been eating cholay or channa with rotis and tamarind sauce a lot – and I am addicted.
Lisa – have you been yet.
HH – best bit daahling!
Catherine – delicious!
I am going TONIGHT – whoop whoop!