I arrived a little early and figured (and hoped) the The Indian Streatery Express had a license as I really fancied a beer before eating. Lucky for me they had the beer, just one offering mind, but what more do you need in a little express pop up outside the Bullring. It’s not like you’re going to spend the evening drinking here, there’s a very casual food on the go feel, but with a bit of heart and soul.
With the anticipated spice in mind, I always like to temper the heat of the chilli with hops of the beer and on offer was the AMB Mango Pale Ale – A collaboration between The Indian Streatery and Birmingham Brewing Company. Delicious it was, tasty mango undercurrents versus all you want in a pale ale.
Sat on the mustard chairs in the sizeable raised seating area outside, I sipped from an Indian Streatery branded half pint glass, watching the shoppers and random walks of life pass by. I could imagine all the people and curry sat out here in the summer.
Once I’d had time to absorb my beer, my food eating companion turned up late and wet, so we went inside and sat at a nice looking distressed table, amongst a couple of booth seating areas opposite window staring chairs, observing the commissioned artwork and random Birmingham/India/Food related words written over the walls.
it has a good layer of chick peas smothered in a tamarind and spice mix giving it a sweet and spicy flavour, sat underneath lovely chunks of grilled chicken, topped with muri (a type of puffed rice), coriander, red onion and pomegranate, layered with mint yoghurt sauce.
Staff were pleasantly friendly and helpful, especially as they brought out another beer, but also in hand was a Mango Lassi. Mango is obviously a thing here, though you get the feel the menu changes often, inspired by its mothership restaurant on Bennett’s Hill. I’m not one for super sweet, but I appreciate that lassi’s are somewhat, but still, it was a lovely thing to try. I can see how it would appeal to others. Maybe my tongue was too adjusted to the AMB, but for a non alcoholic option you should have a go. It’s got a really nice almost yoghurty consistency and if you shove a straw in the middle (which they do) (paper – yes) then it stays upright, so this mixture is thick and sweet, mangoey, with a nice and cooling effect alongside their chaat that has an impressive and much desired kick.
We tried the Grilled Chicken Chaat. Lovingly presented and served in a nice recyclable bowl, it has a good layer of chick peas smothered in a tamarind and spice mix giving it a sweet and spicy flavour, sat underneath lovely chunks of grilled chicken, topped with muri (a type of puffed rice), coriander, red onion and pomegranate, layered with mint yoghurt sauce. A really comforting bowl of food with a level of heat that is pretty much perfect for the masses..not too hot, but enough to give a little electricity to the taste buds. They also offer a Deconstructed Samosa Chaat and a Crunchy Pakora Chaat all priced between £4.95 and £5.95 which I would consider a very reasonable price for this filling piece of textures and flavours.
Moving to a more vegetarian selection, we opted first for the Vegetable Wrap. A lovely wholesome mix of curried potatoes, red onion, lettuce, peas, tomato, cucumber, chick peas and puffed rice, again coated in their lovely tamarind and mint yoghurt sauces, wrapped in a wholemeal tortilla. I didn’t miss the meat, the ingredients gave satisfaction, comfort and warmth, much needed on this rubbish wind swept British winter afternoon. If however you wanted meat in your wrap they create a Chicken Tikka Wrap as well as a Chilli Paneer Wrap, all priced at £6.50.
To finish up we ordered the Loaded Masala Fries. These were really satisfying. Tasty potato fries, coated in a delicious fenugreek chaat masala and a generous amount of spicy and creamy chilli paneer (Paneer is a fresh cheese common in the Indian subcontinent), mixed up with green peppers and loads of coriander. I just wanted to take this bowl of fries home and hibernate. I think I will next time but I might try the Meaty Masala Fries, also on offer adding minced lamb (Keema) instead of the paneer for £6.50.
The Indian Streatery Express offers a tasty little insight into what these guys are doing on a more extensive menu scale in their main restaurant, yet providing delicious, authentic and fresh contemporary street food, a concept that bridges the generations and provides a great alternative food offering for busy city workers and shoppers to eat in or grab and go.
Words by Ollie Lloyd for Grapevine Birmingham