Consider the humble samosa. A meal at a Pakistani or Indian restaurant is almost incomplete without it but I had never stopped to think about what went into making these deep fried packages of goodness. After my recent meal at Chilli Chutney in Streatham I have discovered that the samosas are a lot more complicated than they first appear. First of all the dough, Chilli Chutney flavours its samosa dough with a variety of spices to give a more complex taste. Then the filling which is a pre cooked mixture of fragrant minced lamb and peas or chunky spiced potato. Finally the construction of the samosa, rolling and stretching the dough into thin half circles and then expertly bundling the filling inside before frying it to a golden crispy hue in some sizzling vegetable oil.
Making the samosas
I visited Chilli Chutney with Qype which allowed me to get this behind the scenes glimpse of the effort and skill that goes into making a samosa. I even got to try my hand at making my own. Lets just say that Chilli Chutney won’t be lining up any time soon to employ me as a samosa chef. Perhaps partly on the fame of its samosas, Chilli Chutney has expanded to occupy two shop fronts in the original Streatham restaurant along with two branches in Waterloo and Croydon. The restaurant was fairly deserted on a Tuesday night and the room itself looks a little shabby around the edges however if you can overlook the aesthetics of the place it is clean and the staff are friendly which is probably all that you want from your local curry house.
There was nothing snobby about Chilli Chutney, least of all the food. The menu covers dishes from the Lahori area of Pakistan. Alongside the samosas, the poppadoms (£0.55) were crisp and light and served with a trio of chutneys and raitas. Naan bread (£1.65) was fluffy with a shiny hardened crust and there are several varieties of naan available including the keema naan (£3.25) which is stuffed with spicy minced lamb. Personally I prefer my naan bread plain and simple however good filling it with meat may sound in theory.
Daal and chicken achaari
Daal (£5.25) was a golden yellow colour and had a lovely silken texture to it. The dish that was most impressive though was the chicken achaari (£6.95) which was nigh on perfect. Tender pieces of chicken were served in a deep red piquant sauce that was an ideal foil to the flavourful meat. Although there were some chillis hiding in there (what do you expect from a restaurant called Chilli Chutney) the chicken achaari was not overly spicy. It is a must order dish if you head to Chilli Chutney.
I don’t usually order desserts in Pakistani or Indian restaurants and as interesting as it was to try the shahi keer (£3.50) I probably wouldn’t order it again. Keer is a rice pudding and although I enjoyed the almond flavour that infused the pudding I thought it was a bit runny and was more like a porridge than the creamy rice pudding I was hoping for. Best to have an extra samosa instead and skip the pudding all together.
Essentials: 20-21 Streatham High Road, London SW16 1EX (Ph 020 8696 0123). No nearby tube – take the train to Streatham Common station.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
If you liked reading this you might be interested in what I consider to be the best Pakistani restaurant in London, Tayyabs. It is best to steer clear of Brick Lane and restaurants like Aladin.
Gourmet Chick attended Chilli Chutney as a guest of Qype.