Not just curries and rice: London’s Talli Joe offer a delicious Indian tapas selection

London has it all going on in terms of culture, vibrancy and food especially, with Indian cuisine being a crowd favourite from what we’ve observed. Indian is hearty, warm and full of wonderfully rich flavours and spices that are bound to help you beat the London cold. Whether your lounging on the couch ordering some takeaway to binge on or heading out to a nice dinner, London has some truly great choices for Indian food.

We recently visited Talli Joe: a renowned Indian restaurant located in the heart of London, serving in hot spots Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus. Marketed and voted the best Indian restaurant in London, we set our hopes high for this joint.

Talli Joe certainly did not disappoint. A bustling environment indicated the restaurant was clearly a popular choice, among locals and tourists alike. The interior offered splashes of colour throughout, with hanging lights, greenery and a bar for those who just want to try one of their Indian-inspired cocktails.

We, ourselves, got stuck into the cocktail menu to start, which was separated into different regions of India. North India offered the likes of the ‘Rose Hip’, which mixed Vodka, Rose Sherbet, Lime and Egg White to a deliciously refreshing consistency. South India offered the ‘Holy Basil’, combining a unique combination of Whisky, Basil Leaves, Grapefruit Syrup, Tea and Prosecco Top for a slightly more savoury taste. West India bore the table favourite ‘Masala Colada’: a play on the Pina Colada using Indian ingredients as it fused together Aged Rum Masala Tea Shrub, Fresh Pineapple and Coconut Water. If you’ve ever wanted to try curry leaves in a drink, then you’d want to take a trip to East India to try the ‘Imli Ka Boota’ which offered the delightful combination of Gin, Tamarind Puree, Curry Leaves, Juice and Ginger ale.

The food menu was set out in a way that encouraged sharing (tapas style), which is always our favourite way to enjoy a meal. With a tag-line ‘small servings that are big on flavour’, we couldn’t wait to tuck into some of the rich varieties on the menu. If there’s one thing people know about us when it comes to food, it’s that we absolutely love trying a little bit of everything and getting the chance to try as many different flavours as possible. Hence why we’re so huge on antipasto and tapas!

We began with a plate of Sabudana Papad, which disappeared off the table very quickly. This thin, crispy rice bread type dish was totally texturally satisfying, complete with a taste of citrus salt. We also enjoyed a Goan Pork Sausage Seekh Kabab: a spiced goan Chorizo dish cooked in tandoor, served with apple and walnut salad. The sausages were rich and tender, contrasting well with the light and refreshing side salad.

The Truffle Ghee Kulcha was perhaps the dish we were most looking forward to, mainly because it combines two of our fave things ever: truffle and naan bread! The soft bread was brushed with a flavoursome truffle ghee and was stuffed with cottage cheese, so not one bite lacked in flavour or texture. The Kale Chaat was the most pleasantly surprising as, while we didn’t think we’d particularly fall in love with a dish that revolved solely around kale, well, we actually did. The kale was battered and crispy, pairing perfectly with potato pomegranate and sweet yoghurt. This dish was described as ‘Old Delhi Street Food’, so you can just imagine snacking on this one as you roam the streets of India.

The larger plates consisted of Bohri Curry, Sarson Ka Saabg and Himalayan Pulao, all of which made for excellent mains after such a successful first round. Our vegetarian option was Himalayan Pulao, which offered a simple yet satisfying combo of wild rice and wild mushrooms. The Bohri Chicken was hearty and fulfilling, and offered a mouthwatering blend of secret masalas of the Bohri community, complete with Gujurat and fenugreek flat bread. The Sarson Ka Saag was another vego option, offering Mustard green saag topped with house crème fraiche and served with filling cornmeal bread. In fact, much of the menu offers vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options, all of which are made easy to find with a key of v, g, d, etc. printed beside each dish.

We finished with sweet plates and had the chance to try the Black Gajar Halwa, which was actually rated one of Time Out’s Top Ten Dishes of 2016. The Berry Malai came first, which was essentially just baked yoghurt and seasonal berries. It was a simple dessert choice, and perhaps not a favourite due to it’s slightly overly sweet notes. However, the Black Gajar Halwa was absolutely to die for, and managed to do dessert exactly how we like it: not overly sweet at all yet still enough to cleanse the palate. With such savoury notes to it, it was easy to say that this plate would be among the more healthy options for sweets after dinner. It was totally more-ish too.

We had a great time at Talli Joe and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to try Indian in a different way; that is, in a way that’s not just ‘curries and rice’, but with tapas varieties and loads of unique flavour combinations.

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