Last Friday, myself and a friend decided to dine out at local favourite, The Indian Streatery, on Bennett’s Hill in the city centre.
This was my fourth visit, excluding the launch a couple of years ago, so I pretty much knew what to expect, however, for my guest it was her first time.
The Indian Streatery is home to a family of foodies who started as street food traders almost 6 years ago, at the city’s Digbeth Dining Club, under their street food name The Indian Rasoi.
Serving up a traditional, authentic, menu with a concept that bridges the generations. Heading a team of all female chefs, the Head chef & Mum of this foodie family came up with the original vision to bring real Indian street food to the streets of Birmingham.
Apart from the evening menu, there is a grab and go lunch – where you can ditch your normal sandwich and grab a chicken curry, vegan or lentil hot pot to go, or Pakora, Samosa or Chicken chaat. It is worth pointing out the restaurant is Vegan friendly and serves locally brewed craft beers and wines – true Brummie independents!
As I waited for my guest, I admired the stunning traditional Indian scenes which adorn the walls and also ceiling. It isn’t in-your-face, more subtle and gentle, which, when you add the chilled music (Unknown Mortal Orchestra were playing at the time), The Indian Streatery offers a calming oasis of food and drink in the heart of the city – if you claim a window seat it’s great for people watching too!
Butter Matar Paneer & Masala Fries
To start I ordered an amber pale ale with mango. This is a Birmingham Brewing Co. collaboration with The Indian Streatery and I have to say, it was superb. Would make a brilliant session ale and may end up on tap rather than in bottle.
You get the feeling this place would sit equally well in a town or suburb, and interestingly, the success of this location has inspired a second city centre opening at The Bullring, with a more take-away feel which makes sense for shoppers on the go.
The waitress was most helpful and our orders arrived quickly, though you can expect a short wait when things get busy, as everything here is made to order. And it really DOES get busy fast in the evening.
I ordered a Butter Matar Paneer from the chef’s special menu. This is a gluten free classic Dhaba dish, with golden paneer pieces, garden peas, simmered in a rich coriander, tomato and butter curry sauce.
The paneer is marinated first with butter, hence the creamy butter chicken-like taste I had. It is made same day, which makes the paneer softer so that it absorbs the flavours fully.
For a moment I forgot I had ordered the paneer as it had an immediate chicken texture and taste, which was followed by the immense favours of the curry sauce. Mild and moreish, subtle and extremely delicious. The coriander came through after a few mouthfuls so you really have several aspects to this dish. The paneer packed a punch, probably the best I have ever tasted and I finished the last swill of the bowl.
The Cumin Basmati rice is infused with tumeric and is the perfect accompaniment to the buttery flavoursome curry. It is a more ‘soupy’ curry than many other I have tried, more in line with a Thai curry so the rice or bread is essential for soaking up the sauce.
Afterwards I spoke to the head chef who explained that the paneer is handmade in-house to secret recipe. The paneer is marinated first with butter, hence the creamy butter chicken-like taste I had. It is made same day, which makes the paneer softer so that it absorbs the flavours fully. All the marination takes place every morning to keep things fresh as possible – a big selling point I think.
As a side we both shared some Masala Fries. Potato fries, smothered in their fenugreek chaat masala, tamarind and mint yoghurt sauce. These were as tasty as they looked. A cool inventive take on traditional fries, The Indian Streatery’s street food roots shine through here. My friend was most impressed with her order too, and is perhaps more of a knowledgeable foodie than myself, so I take that as two huge thumbs up for The Indian Streatery.
The Indian Streatery doesn’t need my, or your, seal of approval, they have already nailed it. Be patient if you book here, the wait, if you have one, is well worth it in this busy central location. I walked away thinking how lucky the people of this city are, to have such a wonderful colourful, inventive and professional little restaurant to showcase the strength in our diversity as a region. A true celebration of modern day Birmingham.
Words by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.