Restaurant: Kali Mirchi, Southampton
It is the kind of place you could just walk past and not even notice it was there. However, inside the Shirley restaurant curry-lovers will find some of the most exciting dishes around.
Kali Mirchi has a clear philosophy of offering classic and authentic favourites with their own modern twists. The menu has been skilfully put together by talented chefs Mukesh, Sanjay and Madan who the restaurant boasts proudly honed their culinary skills at some of the best establishments in India.
From the moment you order the poppadoms you can see the care that has gone into ensuring the diner can try something with unique additions and alterations to the chutney tray which alone would keep you coming back.
This was followed by one of the best starters I have ever had in the form of adraki lamb chops. Marinated in ginger, coriander and green chillies with yoghurt and onion and cooked in a clay oven, this dish also got a rave review from my companion who is a fan of both curry and chops.
The chicken pakora - chicken flavoured with lemon, chilli, ginger and garlic - was also perfectly cooked and delicious although few things could measure up to the tiny chops.
For my main dish I asked for the house recommendation. Traditionally I have shied away from dishes on the bones after a couple of disappointments in London's Brick Lane. Now, seven years later, I grudgingly agreed to give it another chance after hearing it made the curry more flavoursome.
Hiked up to a Madras heat I sampled the Chicken Kali Mirchi which was a curry cooked in its own stock packed with spices and black peppercorns - unbelievable.
After eating at hundreds of Indian restaurants across the UK and in India I can only remember a handful of dishes that equal it.
Again the prawn madras was a meal anyone would be happy with but my friend agreed that my choice overshadowed his.
This meal which left us barely able to move cost £33.55 with a couple of portions of rice and a keema naan for good measure.
Review by Simon Carr.