This Raynes Park restaurant opened in late 2020, born out of the Covid pandemic lockdown. Owner Radhika Kamaraj, who is from Madurai in south India, along with her husband Thiru, specialise in cooking biryani, though there are plenty of other menu options. Everything is cooked from scratch in our restaurant kitchen every day, with nothing kept overnight for the next day, and no frozen ingredients are used. The restaurant has no alcohol licence, but you can bring your own for a tiny corkage charge, and there is a convenience store opposite that sells beer. The premises are small, with at most 14 seats at any one time, but it was noticeable that these were all taken on our Tuesday night visit.
After some popadoms and pickles, we tried two starters. Vegetable samosas had pastry that was made from scratch, filled with potatoes, peas and spices. The pastry had good texture and the filling was fine (13/20). I was impressed with fried cauliflower florets finished with curry leaves. This deceptively simple dish had the florets fried in gram flour with very accurate cooking: the texture of the vegetable came through really well, just enlivened by the curry leaves and touch of spice (14/20).
Chicken biryani had fragrant rice and chicken that avoided dryness. For me it was a pity that the dish didn’t have its pastry cap presented and opened at the table, which adds some theatre and also the fragrance of the spices when the pastry is cut, but the end result was certainly very good (14/20). Nilgiris kurma had mixed vegetables cooked in a coriander and mint flavoured sauce; the vegetables retained their texture quite well and there was a lively kick of spice (13/20). Best of all was palak paneer, home-made cottage cheese with freshly blended spinach and spices. The spinach flavour came through really well and the cottage cheese avoided the rubbery texture that often afflicts less well-made versions. This was classy cooking (15/20). Breads were also unusually good. Roti was well made but even better was lovely garlic naan with soft texture and plenty of garlic flavour, and best of all was a light, fluffy paratha (easily 14/20).
For dessert, late season Alphonso mangoes still had lovely fragrance and were nicely presented. We also sampled a good crème brulee. Service was friendly and the bill came to £38 each for more food that a sensible person would eat. If you ordered more carefully, then a more typical cost per person might be £26 or so. This is a bargain for food of this quality. This little restaurant was a real joy to eat at – do try it before it becomes impossible to get a reservation.