It’s Indian Jim, but Not as we know it. Kahani, Chelsea

02 Apr 2019

We’ll admit—we expected Kahani to be like a better version of Dishoom.

Kahani’s website takes full advantage of the restaurant’s Indian influences and explains how Kahani means ‘story’ in Hindi, and also all about their three virtues of life; giving energy, the force of change and the peace that brings all three into balance.

Chef Peter Joseph is the main character and tells this story.

The next most obvious reference for authentic South Asian food is around Brick Lane, which ranges wildly in quality, so we wondered how Kahani would make itself attractive to a Western audience, while still maintaining its originality and integrity as an Indian restaurant.

We followed the purple light to Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square and then went around the back to a hidden side street. Among a vast chunk of residence, we only saw an unassuming sandwich board indicating a restaurant lived here.

They greeted us at the door where we left our belongings and descended a long under-lit staircase that opened up into a minimal but warmly lit space. Faded blue and rose pastels accentuated the various wood tones of the floor, with glass dividers cutting the room into a few sections.

They escorted us to the bar for a drink created especially for us. We had gin Martinis with a spicy foam that stimulated our brains.

Our server carried us on a bed of ease and effortlessness to our table, drinks in tow, settling us in. There wasn’t a worry in sight, but we knew if there was, our server would have anticipated it before we even realised.

Kahani is one of those places where you can order anything, and it will be exquisite.

We experimented with octopus and tandoori calamari (£12) combined elegantly and simply with potato. The golden beet cakes (£10) balanced a salty and stinging mustard with a sweet cranberry chutney that silenced us as we contemplated the flavour combinations.

We felt we were in safe hands with Chef Peter and his next four dishes blew our minds.

Lamb, done well, is a rare find. The nali gosht, a slow-cooked Somerset lamb shank, is rolled in Kashmiri spices and chillies (£24), right alongside the butter chicken, with tomato, fenugreek and char grill notes beating up your tastebuds (£22). To bring the intensity down a notch, we ordered naan (£3.50) and Kahani rice (£4), which although basic, were attended to as carefully as a mother tends her child.

Ginger, coriander and mace came to the fore in the chicken tikka (£20/10) and next to them were large smoked Malabar prawns (£32/16) each delicately painted with fresh turmeric, coconut and curry leaves.

Kahani tells a story, and it’s worth listening to. It’s nothing like Dishoom, which is also wonderful, but I curse myself for mentioning both in the same breath. Kahani is personal, with an exceptionally talented chef who earns your trust from the first bite.

This isn’t a restaurant you’ll frequent because you’ll want to save it for special occasions such as your parents being in town, wanting to celebrate your partner, knowing someone who absolutely loves and appreciates food.

This is a place where you can order anything and expect everything.

Zak 

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