18 July 2012
53 Camberwell Church Street,
My beloved auntie, God rest her soul, was once told that her food was the best Indian food outside of India.
That was back in the ‘60s by a musician who was in a rather successful pop band at the time and went by the name of George Harrison. He would amble on down to her modest home and my uncle would teach him how to play the sitar. Fact. After the lesson, they would sit down to feast on her north Indian culinary delights.
You see, when it comes to Indian food, I have high expectations, none of this vindaloo business or creamy kormas. I’m talking about authentic thick and nourishing dahls, delicately spiced soft but firm lady fingers and hearty potato and aubergine curry.
And having grown up with two very different types of Indian cuisine from the Punjab and Gujarat regions I know my dhai vada from my dokra. So it was with high expectations that I mooched on over to Khan’s in Camberwell Church Street on Saturday night, with a bottle of sparkling plonk accompanied by a very smug South African Chris, who’d just returned from a holiday back home soaking up the rays (even though it’s winter in Durban).
Having established a Brixton branch 25 years ago, which my landladies rave about at any given opportunity, the owners set up shop down the road in Camberwell less than a month ago.
So brand spanking new it is, that you can still smell the paint in the toilets downstairs.
Khan’s offers colouring free fare and none of that off-putting grease with a dollop of curry business.
What’s nice about the place, is that the menu offers a selection of dishes that you wouldn’t normally find in your bog standard curry house.
The maachi pakwan kebab for example, which I chose for my starter, is not a dish that I’d ever had the pleasure of feasting on, but the delicately spiced flaky fish cooked in batter, and served on a bed of smoked aubergine was a rather pleasant surprise.
Despite being coated in batter it was light, not a smidgeon greasy and the smoky fleshy vegetable was melt in your mouth soft. Chris’s highly recommended chum chum chicken was a healthy sized marinated breast which had been chargrilled and came with crisp lettuce and cherry tomatoes.
The poultry was a tad on the dry side but the coriander sauce seeped through the bird, adding a hint of spice.
Having been the first ones in, it was looking as if we were going to have the place to ourselves, but it was a Saturday night and slowly but surely, the place began filling up.
The pasanda badami, fillets of chicken in an almond and pistachio sauce was creamy with tender meat and nutty undertones but was lacking in spice. I wanted some heat so the attentive owner brought out a plate of green chillies, which I chopped up under his watchful gaze (just the one I hasten to add) and scattered in the dish.
We had been advised to try the chicken karahi which hit the spicy spot whilst being tangy at the same time. The thick paste of ginger, garlic, tomatoes, peppers and onions which surrounded the chicken was wholesome and delicious.
However, the dahl was quite possibly the tastiest I’ve had and very moreish, I’m salivating just writing this. The lentils were salty and packed with flavour and had been created from a combination of three different types of pulses.
For dessert your options are limited with only two flavours of Indian ice cream, and if you want booze, remember to take your own.
For a start-up, Khan’s appears to be building up quite a name for itself with friendly, welcoming staff who engage with customers and provide excellent service. Although located on a street heaving with eateries including quite a few Indians, Khan’s has the ability to stand out from the SE5 crowd having built up a dedicated customer base down the road.
So if you’re down south and looking for a quality Indian then why not give it a go?
Maachi Pakwan Kebab £4.95
Chum Chum Chicken £4.50
Pasanda Badami £6.95
Karahi Chicken £6.95
Tarka Dall £3.95
Steamed Rice £2.25
Garlic Nan £2.25
Sweet Lassi £2.95
Pistachio Kulfi £1.50
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