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Sara Odeen-Isbister, Senior Reporter
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Many of us have a favourite type of curry we keep going back to, be it a korma, bhuna or rogan josh.
But of course the streets of India offer far more flavours than your average take away menu and it’s definitely worth stepping out of your curry comfort zone from time to time.
I’ve done just this with a visit to Carom, an Indian restaurant which recently opened at Meza bar in Soho’s Wardour Street.
The menu, put together by head chef Balaji Balachander, features an eclectic mix of reasonably priced dishes which, according to Balaji, take inspiration from Indian street food and a variety of regional cooking from across the country.
There are a few classics, including chicken tikka masala, but many of the choices are unfamiliar (at least to me) with interesting twists.
My friend and I share three starters: chilli squid with a coriander dip, pan fried scallops with asparagus and Indian hummus and a puffed rice salad called bhelpuri.
The starters are for both of us the highlight of the meal. The chilli squid is a wonderful, spicy version of calamari and the scallops and asparagus work unexpectedly well with the hummus.
The biggest surprise though is the bhelpuri, which I learn is a traditional street food in India.
I admit I would not have ordered this dish had it not been recommended by Balaji, as the words ‘rice salad’ don’t exactly draw me in. But the rice, mixed with vegetables, nuts and spices, is fantastic and very more-ish.
For my main I try tandoori chicken with curried pumpkin and creamy black lentils, while my friend has a Kerala fish curry made of pan seared tilapia, spiced potatoes and a coconut and ginger sauce.
The chicken is nicely spiced, tender and balances well with the pumpkin and lentils.
My friend says the fish curry is good, but possibly a little too sweet for her taste.
We finish by sharing a warm sticky toffee pudding – not a particularly Indian dessert but very enjoyable nonetheless.
Before heading off we treat ourselves to a cocktail each from the Meza bar. It’s one of the best I’ve had in a long time and a perfect end to a lovely evening.
A main dish at Carom costs from around £5.50 to £10. There is also a set menu offering two courses for £10 and three for £15.
For more information visit meza-soho.co.uk or call 020 7314 4002.