The Raj revisited

Window cillWith the recent TV series ‘Indian Summers‘ now disappearing into the memory banks, to be stored somewhere in a file listed as ‘Brexit and the resurrection of my imperial dreams‘ (created by the 52%, not those of us who already have an embracing world view), it was time to locally recapture an experience of India and summer. To listen to some of the Out rhetoric expounded from our so-called tolerant shores, you would swear that we have been locked away in a European constructed dungeon, and are only now creating the opportunity to stagger bleary-eyed into the bright lights that constitute the new world beyond European shackles.

As much as your correspondent is frequently regaled with messages about how cheap it is to visit India, I personally find that it is even cheaper for India to visit me! This is where Cardiff Bay comes to rescue me from the standard notion of an Indian takeaway. However, the choice requires a decision to be made, before we even get in front of one of those War and Peace sized menus. A proposition that just might drive us to follow Bella’s idea above… when decisions need to be made find a clear window cill in the sun!

The Duchess of Delhi does its very best to smooth away the challenge of the decisions decisions malady… nothing like a great big sign 18 months after opening to remind us, well, that they are open!

Duchess of Delhi [1]For those readers who are not old enough to have been present at the height of the Raj, which I guess is pretty much everyone (as it is listed as 1858-1947), here is a glimpse of what it might have looked like…

Duchess of Delhi [2]

Strangely enough, that is what nearly all traditional British Indian restaurants inform us the Raj looked like. Other versions of the authentic Indian theme are available (even in Cardiff!). So, cultural and historical context cleared up, it was time to navigate the challenge of the ubiquitous Indian restaurant menu. Is it any surprise that bottles of Cobra were invented in large sizes? Dying of thirst while reading the menu can be a serious proposition! Though it is important to say that the Duchess of Delhi has a slightly more specialist and restricted menu range, which always instils confidence in this intrepid devourer of world nosh.

Duchess of Delhi [4]

The starters were a very tasty reminder of what British style Indian food has to offer. My vegetarian visitor was satisfied with the Onion Pakora, and my cat-like carnivorous tendencies were equally satisfied with the Sheek Kebab, even when adorned with the entry-school colourful scribblings across the plate. With appetites stirred it was time for the main event. It was the decisions-decisions time again, with so many tempting treats on the menu.

My vegetarian friend enjoys a cat-like dispensation when it comes to fish; and is never able to resist something hot. So there was one simple decision… when a dish entitled Bengal Naga Jhaal Jhol is described as the hottest dish on the menu, and includes one of the hottest chilli’s in the world, why look anywhere else. Our host initially looked a little puzzled when he also asked for additional hot chilli on the side.

As for me, I was ready to retreat to a distant table, just in case the heat from the dish put summer into the shade. Apparently there was ‘smelted’ shark somewhere in that bowl! I’m a sucker for a Peshwari Naan and a Coconut Rice, but would ideally like a little of most of the menu to accompany them. But, on this occasion the sound of bleating lambs ambling towards the slaughter house en route to my bowl prevailed. I’m not sure if they picked the green chillies themselves as they sauntered towards their primary purpose in life…

Duchess of Delhi [5]

The Lamb Pepper Roast was succulent and tender, melt in the mouth, and worthy of its place alongside the Naan/Rice combination. Other Indian restaurants of varying focus and price range have been the subject of Juno/Bella style scrutiny within this blog, but the Duchess of Delhi can now take its place as part of a range rather than a competition. Until we speak again, if you are looking for a taste of India Cardiff has a selection, as long as you can cope with decisions-decisions!

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