Last week, I went along to the official launch of the British Curry Club’s new restaurant Duchess of Delhi, in Cardiff Bay, following its opening in December.
The Duchess of Delhi serves authentic South East Asian cuisine with a focus on quality, freshly prepared food. Prior to joining the restaurant, Head Chef Sundaramoorthy Krishnasamy worked in several of Cardiff’s best Indian restaurants, including the Mint and Mustard and Purple Poppadom.
The restaurant also offers exclusive seasonal dishes created using recipes provided by chefs and celebrities such as Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines, author Ivor Peters, and consultant and author Mridula Baljekar.
The launch event was a glamorous affair, with rose petals strewn on the entrance steps, champagne reception and photographers. Everyone was really dressed up and the place was bustling with guests. Needless to say, I felt quite out of place in my casual-yet-comfortable knee-length dress, ballet pumps and parka jacket.
Based within a Victorian building that was traditionally home to a sea captain, Duchess of Delhi spans two floors, both of which we were free to explore during the opening evening. The restaurant has been designed to reflect India’s traditional heritage and culture, featuring elaborate wall murals and ceilings draped in stunning fabrics.
There are three main areas to the restaurant – the Duchess’ Parlour, the Nawab’s Lounge and the Banquet Mahal. Located downstairs, the Duchess’ Parlour houses a bar and restaurant, where guests are also welcome to sit and enjoy their drinks.
On the first floor the Nawab’s Lounge offers a floored seating area , making it the perfect place to relax after a meal or with a group of friends, whilst the Banquet Mahal provides a second bar and restaurant area, the walls covered in hand-painted murals depicting various aspects of Indian culture. The décor really is beautiful and words don’t do it justice, so click here to see some photos on the Duchess of Delhi website.
Served at ten minute intervals, the menu for the evening consisted of no less than twelve (!) canapé courses. I couldn’t stay long enough to try all of the courses, but the ones I did manage to taste were definitely worth a mention.
The kalan-bed contained a mixture of potatoes, pepper, cheese and mushroom coated in breadcrumbs, fried and drizzled with two different sauces. One of them was mint but I’m not sure what the other was. Served warm, the kalan-bed were full of flavour and seemed to be made up of a concoction of spices.
No Indian restaurant menu would be complete without some of onion bhaji – Duchess of Delhi serve up onion pakoras, a typical street snack from the streets of Tamilnadu, made using onion, gram flour and curry leaf. They’re not too different to an onion bhaji if you ask me; crispy on the outside with a spicy, onion filling.
One dish that made the Duchess of Delhi stand out from most other Indian restaurants, for both my guest and I, was the grilled tikka. We were expecting to be sampling some sweet, mildly tasting chicken tainted a pinkish red – just as you would expect from chicken tikka at your average Indian restaurant. Instead, we were given a chunk of chicken that was orange-brown in colour and when we tasted it, it was as though the marinating spices had soaked right through to its core. It was much spicier than chicken tikka I’ve been served elsewhere, but for me this was definitely a good thing because it seemed more authentic.
After the chicken, we were lucky enough to try some meat in the form of a sheekh kebab. These were made using fresh minced lamb, red onion and bell peppers, grilled in a tandoori oven. The lamb was tender and succulent and the bell peppers gave it a subtle kick.
Around halfway through the courses there was an interval, during which time the Duchess of Delhi served a sorbet for its guests. I love sorbet because of its intense fruity flavour, but it is also very widely known for its ability to cleanse the palate between courses.
The final course that we tried was actually one of my favourites – chicken chettinadu curry, served with fragrant basmati rice. The chicken was incredibly soft and tender, whilst the sauce was aromatic and had a good balance of spiciness to it.
Duchess of Delhi
6 Bute Crescent
I was invited to the Duchess of Delhi’s launch evening as a guest and all food was complimentary.