As a carnivorous cat I struggle to get the vegetarian thing. However, some would say my lot more often play with our prey rather than eat them; so, perhaps I need to get in touch with my vegetarian side. But where in deepest Cardiff could seriously introduce me to the artistry of the vegetable, and take up the challenge of shifting some of my passionately held gastronomic prejudices? Penarth Road neither benefits from a city centre or Cardiff Bay location, which may suggest why it is not known either locally or internationally as a hub of culinary excellence… more of a highway for ethnic wholesale outlets or a parade of low cost obesity fuelling stations.
But don’t blink, it seems the aubergine may just get its moment in the sun. There nestled in amongst the downbeat signs of bedsit land I am accosted by the surprising temptation of a Vegetarian Food Studio…
What can this message possibly mean? Is the best thing you can do with a vegetable is to photograph it, or draw it, or even paint it? There is only one way to find out, and on closer inspection my senses are reassured by the signs of Indian cuisine, an undoubted home of doing good things to vegetables with a mouth-watering range of spices and fragrances. The decor is basic and functional following a relocation 100 yards along Penarth Road from its previous home of the last 10 years.
With ethnic murals adding to the authentic setting for the greatly anticipated feast…
Some of the previous visitors reviews serve to build the expectations: “Amazing”, “I’m not a veggie, but wow”, “Best Indian food in Wales”, “Superb food every time” and “Can’t get there often enough.” The range on the menu is enough to bamboozle even the regular aficionado of Indian restaurants, but this is somewhere distinctly different, and the serving staff are on hand to offer explanations and advice.
Starters of Hara Bhara Kebab and Hot Garlic Chilli Dosa ensure that fabulous tastes sizzle and crackle across the tongue, calmly settled by the contrast of a jug of Salted Lassi.
The main course is a mix of Chilli Paneer, Masala Mushroom Nu Sak (mild curry), with sides of Almond, Jeera & Cinnamon Rice and Methi Paratha.
For this cool cat the food was just right, but if you go accompanied by a fellow hot cat don’t be surprised if the chilli dish is deemed not hot enough, and more of the raw onions will be required to spice the palate. For this self confessed carnivore a trip to the vegetable patch has proved to be illuminating, and surprisingly tasty. So, until we speak again this is Spicy Juno wishing that all of your studios be creative and that your vegetables are fragrantly presented.