This fresh Indian restaurant, just a few minutes walk from the famous museums, is no ancient monument

I’m old enough to remember, just about, the early Indian restaurants in the UK. Their main selling point was  the fact they were open after the pubs had closed and not many other places were.

Today you can still find the classic ‘Indian’ with its dansaks, dopiazas, madrases and manhood-testing vindaloos, but it’s the modern Indian restaurant that’s now the hottest ticket and heat is no longer the main attraction.

Pravaas is the new restaurant from Chef Patron Shilpa Dandekar who opened PURE Indian Cooking in Fulham, back in 2016, which I loved. So I didn’t need much, or indeed any, encouragement to try the new outpost of her excellent cooking.

It’s a compact place and elegantly decorated. Its green cloth wallcoverings, industrial lighting and cosy grey tub chairs and curved velvet banquettes are a million miles from the usual decor of an ‘Indian’ and much more Michelin style.

Even the papadoms are different. One looks like the kind of polystyrene ceiling tile that was declared a fire hazard some years ago, but is in fact made of sago and is deliciously crispy and chewy. Another is thin, like Sardinian Carta di Musica, and flavoured with fennel. Garlic tomato chutney and tempered mango chutney on the side are excellent, the former nicely fiery.

Chef offers to choose our menu, a great relief as so much sounds good that we’re otherwise marooned in indecision central, but we were going to order the Taste Of Mumbai pre-starters anyway.

Dahi sev puri, a wheat puff filled with chutneys and sweet yoghurt;  pani poori, a classic street snack of another stuffed crispy ball with chickpeas, but instead of being filled with mint water( pudina pani), here it’s coriander water, and then there’s colcannon ragda pattice – mashed potato patty, but made with colcannon, the classic Irish dish of mash with cabbage. They are all one bite wonders.

We shovel up and wolf down Patra Chaa –  colocasia leaves slathered with yoghurt, date and beautifully sour tamarind chutney, with pomegranate seeds dotted on top and onion, tomato and sev (crunchy chickpea noodles). An elevated version of a street food favourite and so moreish that we have to restrain ourselves because two proper starters appear.

Lamb Galouti Kebab  is a smoked lamb kebab with a cashew paste, cranberry chutney on layered flaky bread and is wonderfully moist and juicy, minced lamb can dry out very easily. The sweet nut paste works very well against the tart cranberry.

A Wasabi Chicken Tikka –  chicken thigh marinated in fresh wasabi, cheese, cream, fenugreek leaves, and cardamom is very unique. Fresh wasabi has little of the eye watering fire of the ubiquitous luminous green paste and a lot more of the flavour of its coarse cousin the horseradish. Full marks here too for using chicken thigh and not breast, it has far more taste.

Our highlight out of all the main dishes that follow has to be the Venison Dalcha, a slow cooked venison rack, sat next to a kind of pearl barley and lentils timbale with black garlic pickle. The meat is superb, tender and perfectly cooked and subtly, but effectively, spiced.

After that we don’t perhaps need the Prawn Balchao, prawns cooked with a hint of  dry chilli, some cinnamon, black peppers, cloves and vinegar but we love it. The prawns are so plump and perfect and the chilli heat is just peeking pleasantly out. The vinegar and cloves add a lovely complexity, vinegar being an original part of Vindaloo before that dish became synonymous with pain

With these superb dishes we’ve had Lasooni Palak, creamed spinach with brown garlic and dry fenugreek leaves. Something that looks innocent but which we found wickedly moreish with the parathas and garlic nan to scoop it up, plus we had one of my must haves – Dal Makhani – black lentils slow cooked overnight. I have had this dish in so many restaurants, but this is the best so far. I think one secret is not to add too much cream.

We had some rice of course, saffron yellow ‘witches fingers’, as good basmati always should be.

Stuffed to the gills we still tried desserts of gulab jamun and red currants baked with almond cream and vanilla ice cream and a Jackfruit Crème Brulé with  jalebi and raspberry caviar. The gulab jaman was a high concept take on the standard and was not as sweet and rich as usual, which was a blessing, the red currants adding a sharp balance.

Jackfruit is one of those things that had a vegan moment in the sun a while back, being used everywhere when picked young as a kind of pulled pork replacement. Mature it has a kind of mango -ish flavour. I love creme brulee and this variation was clever and novel.

In fact every dish was exciting, flavoursome and beautifully presented by staff who were clearly engaged and knowledgeable. This is fine Indian dining done with charm and isn’t at all expensive for what it is or where it is. It may be a ‘local curry house’ but it’s a very long way from being just that.

Images from Pravaas

3 Glendower Pl, South Kensington, London SW7 3DU

020 3161 7641

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