Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Indian

Indian Summer - This is not a typical Indian restaurant. The menu isn't vindaloo-madras-korma-rogan-balti x beef-lamb-chicken-vegetable mix and match. It's a fair step more expensive than most, too. But ahh, the food is worth it. The dishes taste real, rather than being bowls of meat or vegetable mush in sauces differing only in degrees of heat or sweetness. The masala dosa, which was the dish which attracted me to this place initially, is a spiced potato mixture rolled up in a large, slightly crisped pancake of fermented batter, served with a fresh chutney and raita, and was excellent. There are about eight other entrees, all vegetarian, and all sounding interesting. The main course curries include vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes. The eggplant curry is fantastically smoky and spicy, really delicious. The cashew, tomato and paneer curry is also good, although the paneer is a little dry. The vegetarian mains are 9.25 each, which includes rice and breads. The total cost for the two of us, for two entrees, two mains, and a bottle of wine from the short but good winelist, was 40, but it was worth it for the big uncontrollable smiles of appreciation this food brought to our faces. 5 Victoria Terrace, Kingsway, BN3 2WB. 01273 701228. (March 2003)

Nishat Tandoori - Oh god I am so sick of rewriting this review. I wish these guys would work out whether they are going to produce crap, bland, cabbage-heavy mush, or the brilliant, spicy, interesting curries they were making when we first tried them. We used to love the vegetarian nilgree dal wala (the sauce green with herbs, delicious), jalfrizi (full of whole green chillies and spices, very hot, also great), balti (good), malai kofta (slightly sweet but very good), and the chana masalla, which had a gorgeous rose coloured, slightly coconut-y sauce. We ordered from here (they only do takeaway/delivery) every couple of weeks. Then something happened (new cook? stingy manager?) and gradually the food became worse and worse. 30% cabbage, 1% spice, not a good combination. We stopped ordering from them. Then one night when I was home by myself and couldn't be bothered cooking, and needed food delivered because I was already in my pajamas and wasn't about get dressed just to go pick up some takeaway, I called them again. Miracle! Great curry again! Spices and chillies! I was reconverted. A couple of weeks later, they were still fine. But as of last week, you guessed it - crapola. Whatever. I'm not going to bother rewriting this review for the fifth time, if I ever order from them again. If you do so, you may get total garbage, you may get some of the best Indian in Brighton. Good luck. Delivery is free for orders over ?10 within a 2 mile radius. Open 5.30pm - midnight, seven days a week, including bank holidays. 58 Preston St Brighton, 01273 321 701. (February 2003)

Dilraj (or is it Dil Raj?) - Pretty good food. The vegetarian menu looks quite small, but if you ask they will make any type of curry as vegetarian. The saag chana was very good, daal was fantastic, and vegetarian dansac pretty nice. You can also get a miniature vegetarian smorgasbord on a plate which gives you small portions of four or five curries plus rice and a nan, which Ted liked a lot. Suprisingly cheap, too. 12 Fisher St Lewes 01273 479279. (May 2002)

Bayleaf - This is our local Indian. It doesn't have a huge vegetarian range - three curries and a selection plate. If you order one of the curries, it comes in a small bowl, along with a small bowl each of mixed vegetable curry and dahl ("two free side dishes!"). The chilli aubergine curry is fantastic - slightly smokey, nice and spicy. The aloo jeera is OK; we haven't tried the Mokai mushroom curry yet because it has sweetcorn in it and no way do I believe that's natural. These are all 5.95. The vegetarian selection plate is 8.95, and includes the bowls of two curries and dahl, plus a (non-sweetcorn) mushroom curry that I would order in a flash if it were on the menu individually, a cauliflower thing that I wouldn't, an aubergine fritter (good), a piece of fried paneer (not so interesting), and a couple of small stuffed capsicums. It's more than enough for one, and would probably do well for two if you weren't super hungry. Rice and bread are extra, popadums and chutney are complimentary. They do free home delivery within 3 miles, or 15% off if you pick it up yourself. 104 Western Rd Brighton 01273 773804 / 722280. Sun-Fri: 12.00-3pm, 5.30-11.30pm; Sat: 12 noon-midnight. (January 2002)

Bombay Aloo - aka Infinite Indian, this is a smorgasboard vegetarian Indian restaurant in the Lanes. It was a big relief to us to find somewhere you could get an Indian meal for two for under the equivalent of about A$75. 4.95 will get you each unlimited vegetarian curry, bread, rice, salads, pickles, bahjis and pakoras, and coconut rice pudding. The bajhis and pakoras are really only worth eating if you see them brought out and know that they are fresh and hot, but the rest is good. Some of the curries are a bit odd (one with Brussels sprouts, for example - I spent ages going 'Are they dumplings of some kind? Paneer balls? Perhaps very soft small potatoes? Oh my god, they're overcooked Brussels sprouts!'), and all are very mild, although you can spice them up a bit with the pickles. The korma is way sweet (but this seems to be a UK thing (?)), but the dahl is fantastic, and there's a good chick pea and spinach curry too. We have always got in without a booking, but it would probably be wise to book if you have a large group or it's Friday or Saturday night. Ship St, Brighton. (December 2001)

A Taste of India - another mild disappointment, unfortunately. The location is good (on the seafront, though no view), the decor is modern and quite sexy (complete absence of red flock wallpaper and its usual accoutrements), but the food is bland. The best of the dishes we tried was the sag paneer, which was pleasant. The mushroom curry had almost no taste whatsoever, neither spice nor mushroom, and the tarka dahl was slightly acrid (nor was there any evidence of vegetables in it, as described). In its favour, it's fairly cheap - about 2.95 for vegetable side dishes, and two or three of these would serve two people easily - and it is open till 11.30 pm. 1270 King's Rd Brighton 01273 773317. (August 2002)

Spice Nutriment - I swear they have some apparatus out the back of this shop which blows the delicious smell of their curries up the street at the precise angle required to intersect with your nostrils as you exit the train station and start thinking about whether you have any food in the cupboard to make dinner with. Dead cunning of them really. Unfortunately, the taste doesn't really live up to the smell. The curries are fine, but not fantastic. The servings are huge though, and it's cheap and convenient and they have a vast vegetarian menu, so we keep going. Next time I will ask them to make the curry hotter, because the 'medium hot' is actually 'not very hot at all'. The saag chana is the best thing I've had so far - better than the saag paneer, which has a weird milky taste. The dall sabji is bland, as is the mixed vegetable curry that comes as a side dish with some of the curries. Takeaway only, free delivery within 5 mile radius for orders over 10. Monday-Saturday 5-11pm, Sunday 6-11pm. 66 Queens Rd Brighton 01273 777746. (March 2002)

Bombay Indian Cuisine - The curries are not bad, not great. The service is fantastic though - the head waiter is gorgeously suave and avuncular. Also they're open till midnight every day of the week, which is useful to know. 86 Preston St Brighton 01273 721199 / 203228. (April 2002)

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