Restaurant review: Kali Mirchi, Shirley
Traditional Indian food is firmly on the menu at Kali Mirchi in Shirley.
Chef Mikesh Sharma is on a mission to go back to basics, serving up dishes in the classic Indian style, rather than ones that have been adapted by other nations, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
When we visited the restaurant it was just a week or so after it had opened, in premises formely occupied by another Indian restaurant.
But even though the new owners hadn't yet had chance to redecorate, they'd already made their mark.
We were particularly impressed with the excellent service which really made the restaurant stand out.
And although the menu had a lot of the staples, such as popadoms, bajhis, etc, there were a number of less familiar dishes, particularly a wide range of fish and seafood options, with an accent on South Indian dishes.
Their signature dish is lamb nihari, lamb shank cooked overnight with various spices. The dish originated in Old Delhi in the late 18th century.
I started my meal with alooki tikki, a spiced pan fried potato cake with tamarind sauce and chick peas while my boyfriend had tawa machi, pan fried marinated sea bass fillet with salad.
I have to admit we tend to go for a small popadom mountain as our starter in Indian restaurants but going for proper starters was definitely a good option as these were both delicious.
The alooki tikki was wonderfully spicy without being too heavy while the sea bass was also excellent - the spices were perfectly pitched so as not to overwhelm the subtle flavour of the fish.
For our mains I had the delicious mutter mushrooms, made without cream while my boyfriend had Goanese prawn curry and we shared side dishes of palak aloo - baby potatoes with spinach - and tarka dahl.
The prawn curry was very succulent - according to the chef the secret is that they don't pre-cook the prawns separately. The prawns themselves were also large and plentiful.
All the dishes had lovely delicate flavours and complemented each other very well.
We had, however, been rather greedy. This was far too much food for two people to consume and we wound up taking around half of it home - after all, it was much too good to waste.
Our meal for two came to around £30 - excellent value, particularly when you consider that we had another meal from the leftovers!
Review by Sally Churchward.