At the ripe old age of 70 you might ex­pect signs of slow­ing down. Not so

The Herald Magazine - - EATING OUT - KHUSHI’S

IN the end we had pep­per monk­fish tikka and Kash­miri chilli po­tato, mango chicken tikka and even a ban­dal jaam. Out­side on Leith Walk life bus­tled away, while the door swung open ev­ery five min­utes or so and peo­ple walked up to the counter. To be told, as we had, that the place is packed to the rafters tonight so there will be a wait.

And wait peo­ple do. At that lit­tle row of seats be­hind the till counter. As brigades of waiters, who seem to work in twos, blitz in and out be­tween ta­bles that are frankly a lit­tle too closely squeezed in. Not quite cheek by jowl – it is Ed­in­burgh after all – but not so far off it that I can’t look down and see pretty much ex­actly what the peo­ple at the next ta­ble are eat­ing.

This is Khushi’s, ar­guably Ed­in­burgh’s most fa­mous In­dian restau­rant, which has been serv­ing din­ers, in a be­wil­der­ing va­ri­ety of of­ten chang­ing sites, since way back in 1947.

What a lo­ca­tion this is. A Wed­nes­day evening in March and Ed­in­burgh al­ready has that Euro­pean city feel. It’s chilly out there, but to look at the peo­ple strolling by the weather’s al­ready balmy. In their heads any­way.

On the other side of the glass I’m get­ting very strong 1970s In­dian restau­rant vibes, and by that I mean back in the day when ev­ery­one went to an In­dian and they had that cen­tre-of-the-culi­nary-uni­verse feel to them.

It’s not wham bam but there clearly is a sys­tem that has evolved to han­dle the sheer vol­ume of cus­tomers. The man be­hind the desk at the front counter was re­laxed, in­for­mal, sug­gest­ing we may want to get a drink at a nearby pub while wait­ing for the ta­ble.

We don’t be­cause when I asked Lind­say if she fan­cied a quick bite, I was think­ing of that be­com­ing-very-fash­ion­able restau­rant just down the road.

Yes, the one where they never, ever seem to an­swer the phone. They’re still not an­swer­ing the phone tonight, but it be­ing a Wed­nes­day and there­fore quiet we wan­dered down to get a ta­ble.

I for­got. In Ed­in­burgh ev­ery night’s a Fri­day night. So it’s com­pletely full.

Lind­say men­tioned that her mother-in- law is stay­ing and that they’re hav­ing great In­dian food ev­ery night so the orig­i­nal idea was to avoid In­dian food. But what can you do? To nearby Khushi’s, then, with its “chicken cur­ries all £10.95” on the menu. That doesn’t mean the food hasn’t moved with the times, though.

A pep­per monk­fish tikka starter at £7.95 is meaty, spicy and fresh. There’s cheese on it, too – strange, but not in a bad way.

A sim­ple dish of pota­toes fried in gram flour, draped in chilli and to­mato has a gar­licky buzz and that badal jaam at £5.95 may not look much with its core in­gre­di­ents of aubergine and to­mato but the mix of yo­gurt and cumin is pleas­ant. Maybe not so hot on all the main cour­ses.

We try some dif­fer­ent dishes. Mango chicken tikka may sound a lit­tle bit wooh, a lit­tle bit waah. It’s moist, sweetly flavoured and pleas­ant.

Murgh koli­wara, on the other hand – billed as “a favourite from the Tin­sel Town of Bollywood” – with cashew nuts, peanuts, poppy seeds and curry leaf, is noth­ing more than a dis­ap­point­ingly retro dish of a generic-look­ing and tast­ing sauce. It be­ing a chicken curry, it costs £10.95, but poke and prod as long as I do I see and taste next to noth­ing of the

promised in­ter­est­ing in­gre­di­ents, save for a for­lorn curry leaf and a few sprin­kles of some­thing crumb-like. There’s £3 of bas­mati rice to be added to the cost of this mak­ing it, at £14, pos­si­bly not the best value.

Still, you know what you are get­ting when you come into Khushi’s. A feel, a con­fi­dence, maybe even a slight swag­ger to the whole en­ter­prise that is no bad thing.

It’s not cheap, it’s not cut­ting edge, but it’s cer­tainly not bad. If you know a restau­rant Ron should re­view, email ron­mackenna@fast­mail.fm

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GOR­DON TERRIS

Khushi’s has been serv­ing cur­ries to Ed­in­burgh din­ers since 1947 and is en­dur­ingly pop­u­lar if a lit­tle pricey

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