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Delhi Grill: The Dishoom Prototype?

Sandwiched between utility shops and fried chicken bunkers, Delhi Grill blended in on Chapel Market, an ethnic end of Islington. The blue sign and the walls adorned with old ragged newspaper cuttings did not make this modern Indian cafeteria elegant. Still, there was a charisma of sort, when I walked into the place and hit by the boisterously jolly Bollywood music videos, I felt as if transported away from the banal enclosure of London to where life was not bound by routine and, well, spiced up!

The guys were friendly and informative. We were told the Delhi Grill had just been opened 7 months ago. Was this before Dishoom, we were unsure? Looking at the paired down menu, we felt it was not a far off restaurant model from Dishoom, with the focus on the grill. There were curry options, some of which changed daily, and side veggie dishes. We started off with Vegetable Samosas. Tightly packed and mildly spiced. We were also given different types of sauce: (1) sweet cooling beetroot (2) fiery lime, mint and chilli and (3) fresh chilli and ginger.

There our main dishes arrived: (1) Mixed Grill, (2) Hanndi Goat and (3) Chicken Makhani. The grill of Chicken Tickka, Sheekh Lamb Kebab and Lamb Cutlets was served sizzling on the hot plate. Chicken was nicely marinated and tender and so was the Sheekh. The cutlets, however, were not that meaty. Just adequate. The Hanndi Goat, a kind of yoghurt and tomato based curry, was fiery. The spices were perfectly balanced and warded off the foul aroma of the goat. And, the meat! So soft it fell off the bone. The Makhani was a less aggressive dish. The buttered chicken oozed this delectable aroma and tenderness. The curry was on a mild and sweet side with a distinct note of spices.

We also asked for a side dish of Bhindi, which was finely sliced okra stir fried with onions and spices. Quite a hot dish, I must say, but well cooked and the spices were well mastered, too. We mopped it all up with a bowl of pilau rice and a roti.

The meal concluded with Home Made Kulfi. We went for Pistachio and Mango flavours. Rustically served on a plate with a drizzle of condensed milk. The Mango was perfect, but I found the Pistachio slightly too crystalised. Flavour-wise, the kulfi couldn’t quite outdo my most favourite version at Dishoom. That said, Dishoom sourced their kulfi from elsewhere, while the ones at Delhi Grill were made in house.

The meal delivered well beyond my expectation; the flavours were rustic authentic; and the scene was low key perfect (I was there for a Sunday lunch). When I asked for the bill, I heard the hot plate sizzling a few tables away from us. Gosh, I could reprise with another round of food at this Delhi Grill.

O, perhaps I should mention, there is an also decent takeaway called Holy Cow down the road. We tasted and we thought it was nice.

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “9 out of 10″.

DELHI GRILL

21 Chapel Market
Islington
London
N1 9EZ

Tel. 020 7287 8100

www.delhigrill.com

Delhi Grill on Urbanspoon

8 Comments

  1. I have to say, I think Delhi Grill and Dishoom are very very different concepts, both in terms of style/ decor and in terms of food.

    Delhi Grill is based on the casual, inexpensive Indian roadside canteen restaurants, dhabas, which sell simple, slow-cooked dishes to appreciative workers. The decor is funkier, of course, but still simple. The menu is fairly short and based on traditional recipes.

    Dishoom is based on Bombay Cafes, themselves long ago modelled on European cafes. Therefore the look and style is very very different. Also, the idea of these cafes, and of Dishoom, is for all day opening, where people come for a drink, a snack or a full meal. The food, whilst certainly Indian, is quite different.

    I love both, I genuinely do. But I think it very unfair to call either one a prototype for the other!!!

    • Hi Kavey,

      Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. I tend to compare them both regardless of their original concepts only because I got the similar vibe from both restaurants but with the understanding that Dishoom is more refined and modeled on European cafes. Comparing them, to me at least, gives out a generalised – perhaps too generalised in this case – idea that the best dishes, grill and curry (Ruby at Dishoom), are not too far off from one another. I love both though I’m more inclined to the rusticness of Delhi Grill.

  2. I see where you are coming from. My worry is just that suggesting either is prototype for the other will give those who have not been to one or other a false idea of what the other will be like!

    But yes, I agree that both have some fabulous dishes.

    Both, for me, are part of a new wave of Indian eateries in London – infact I have referred to Delhi Grill, Dishoom and Moolis as a “triumvirate” because all three are bringing something new and fresh to Indian food in London. They aren’t alike but have that in common, for me!

    :)

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