My first introduction into Indian food was the humble Balti in the 1990s. My cousin would invite me up to Birmingham from darkest Herefordshire to sample the rich flavours of this now world famous dish.
Indian cuisine in Brum is changing.. Welcome to Zindiya!
Upon walking into this brightly coloured restaurant, you cannot help but smile. The colours are bright and vibrant, reflecting the spices used in their dishes.
It’s a compact space, but the first thing you notice – the tables and chairs are well spaced out. This is unusual for an Indian restaurant, diners are too often squeezed in. Zindiya works well for anyone with children, and pushchairs – I did note a fab children’s menu with colouring pencils about the place.
The decor is inspiring, with great attention to detail. At last, a stylish, cool, trendy take on India and her vibrancy, but Zindiya still manages to incorporate the traditional Indian culture – from vintage posters to various trinkets adorning the walls, even a fake shop front with shutter, ingenious!
Music is a big passion of mine, and for the first time ever, I was actually excited to hear one of my favourite sitar tracks being played upon entry – Mathar (Indian Vibes) by Dave Pike Set. Great start guys. Instantly I thought “perfect for Moseley”, cool, understated, laid back, and a bit funky. But would the food stand up as well?
Aloo Tikki Chaat & Onion Bhajis
To begin I ordered a pint of local brewery Purity’s Lawless from the bar, which was served well. If they can get the draft beer right we’re off to a good start.
The beauty of Zindiya is that you soon realise the portions are not huge, or too small, they’re just right. This really is more about sampling several dishes rather than one big fat plate. Don’t worry though, it’s easily affordable, for seconds, or even thirds if you find something you like. Imagine Indian Tapas, no? Well you don’t have to imagine it, this is Zindiya and it’s real.
The Onion Bhajis arrive, onions marinated, and fried, in gram flour.
Served in a metal pot, the taste is fresh and they are crispy on the outside, soft and moist within, and that worked for me. Suitable for vegetarians, but also enjoyed by meat eaters, ha! To be honest, I could have ordered these again. Some Bhajis can be too doughy, and some just taste stale, squidgy, but these tasted exactly as you would hope, light, not too oily, and made by pixies. As a side note, the kitchen is open for all to see which is a refreshing change, everything looks immaculate and chefs pristine (and busy).
Next up, say “Aloo Tikki Chaat”. Great name! This is potato cakes and spicy chickpeas drizzled with tamarind chutney and yogurt. It looks a little bit messy, but trust me, I was scraping the plate clean with my fork. I’ll be honest, I’ve never tasted anything like this before, it was so flavoursome. The chick peas and potato had really soaked up the spices and it zinged, and left my taste buds dancing to funky sitars in curry heaven.. Sorry that’s the only way I can describe it.
From Ooty With Love & Marinated Chops
My companion suggested a cocktail and explained the list has been specially compiled by a local bar wizard Robert Wood from 40 St Pauls, The Wilderness and his newest venture, Smultronställe. The staff are all trained carefully to ensure consistency of Robert’s concoctions, which is no mean feat.
So an ‘Ooty With Love’ soon arrived at the table. I don’t know who Ooty is but I’d like to shake his hand! I get the feeling these cocktails are a bit of a secret because I couldn’t work out was was in this, needless to say it had rose petals, and wild strawberries in, was very strong, sweet, strawbeerryry, a lot of it, and came in a plastic bag wrapped up with a cola straw poking out… too cool! Hic!
Just as my eyes were starting to go a bit woozy, the Chicken Tikka arrived. Cooked over charcoal and served with yoghurt dip and Zindiya’s salad (tomatoes, onions, lentils, mint & coriander), this was a decent sized portion.
The chicken did not require any sauce as it was lightly crispy on the outside, yet so succulent and soft in the centre. Really, I have tried some great examples of Tikka and this was cooked to sheer perfection. Fresh, soft and almost melted in the mouth with a slight kick from the spice.
Probably the highlight for me were the Lamb Chops which looked like they had been marinated then attacked with a flame thrower. Again these are marinated and cooked over charcoal. The portion was extremely generous, however, the meat does shrink slightly, possibly due to being marinated? The meat itself was really soft and juicy, and I found myself gnawing at the bones. Imagine the best barbecued chops ever, then take it to another level – 5 stars!
When I return, I have my eye on the Chilli Cheese Toast (Mumbai’s version of cheese on toast with onion, chilli ad spices).
A New Era in Indian Dining
In a nutshell, Zindiya welcomes in a new era for Indian dining.
For too long Indian food in the UK has catered too much for what the British public demanded, but Zindiya kind of reclaims Indian cuisine back, and serves it up in a more authentic, vibrant, no frills fashion but with a cool trendy style, and most importantly it is delicious and unpretentious.
There will always be the need for quality Balti houses, and the high end Pushkars, Ashas and Lasans, but Zindiya steps in and says.. “hey, we can do it this way too!” and it’s a great deal of fun!
In addition to this, Zindiya take bookings for their Indian inspired afternoon tea which includes a selection of savoury bites and sweet delights such as sandwich pakoras and cardamom scones with masala tea, and their chai infused prosecco, which features on the cocktail menu.
Definitely would like to return, as there’s lots more to try!
From The Owners
Zindiya was born out of our love for Indian street food gained on our many visits there and of course our Indian heritage from which we learnt so much about spices and flavours. From dosas to chaat, from chai to kati rolls, we wanted to bring an authentic taste of the Indian sub continent to the streets of Birmingham.
Our home is designed to look like a traditional street in any of these wonderful cities, colourful, distinctive and different to what we see over here. We have used local crafters and artists to create a setting that is bright, immersive and most of all, fun but in keeping with the real essence of what Indian street cooking is all about.
The sights, smells and colours of street markets of Indian cities such as Mumbai and Kolkata are unique, their exotic and bustling aura is like no other and we wanted to bring a sense of that culture to the place we were born, Moseley.
There is seating for 90 people, including covered rickshaw booths and a bar area which has the finest cocktail range in the village, designed by cocktail legend Robert Wood, alongside local craft beers, hand selected wines from Birmingham’s oldest wine merchant Connolly’s and sweets from the delicious Miss Macaroon.
Whether it’s afternoon chai or a night out with friends, our food and drink will bring a little spice in to your life.
Review by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham