Black Salt is sister to Dastaan, and cooks the Dastaan recipes, with just a few differences in menu between the two locations. The head chef is Manish Sharma, who was at Copper Chimney and had also worked at Jamavar and Kahani. Black Salt has well-spaced tables without tablecloths, with a bar area, dining room and additional conservatory seating.
Chilli garlic tiger prawns are a star dish of the Dastaan family. Large tiger prawns are marinated with spices including garlic, dried red chilli and tomato. These are cooked very accurately, the spice mix lovely and the prawns cooked evenly, the natural sweetness of the prawns still present and the tender texture of the prawns a real joy (16/20). Tandoori lamb chops are ordered individually and are deeply impressive. The lamb is cooked quite lightly compared to a lot of Indian restaurants, and the spicy marinade is vibrant and exciting, the garlic chutney on the side an excellent foil for the meat (16/20).
Chicken tikka malai features a marinade involving cheese, softening the meat, which had nicely absorbed its spicy marinade, which also has ginger, garlic paste and yoghurt. This dish can often dry out in less capable kitchens, but not here (15/20). Onion, spinach, potato and kale bhajias at Black Salt are a revelation. Think how many onion bhajias you have eaten over the years at your local restaurant, and recall the soggy, slightly greasy texture of most of them. Not here, where the bhajias are crisp and light and bursting with spicy flavour, the little vegetable balls cooked with gram flour laced with coriander seeds and carrom seeds (16/20)
Pork vindaloo was a wonderful, dark, rich dish, the pork cheek remarkably tender and the vinegar providing enough sourness to cut through the richness of the meat without overpowering the flavour of the pork and spices (16/20). Lamb biryani was good, the rice quite fragrant and the grains separate, while the meat avoided dryness (15/20). Methi chicken was superb, the fresh fenugreek and cashew nut paste elevating this dish to a higher level than just about any version I have tried elsewhere, the chicken tender and the spicing precisely judged (16/20).
Saffron prawn curry had carefully cooked prawns tempered with mustard seeds and a rich, gently spiced sauce with onions and tomatoes (15/20). Mustard potatoes kept their texture well, the little potatoes having nicely absorbed the spices they were cooked with (14/20). Black dhal is made overnight and had lovely deep flavour and smoky complexity (16/20). Lasooni spinach involved spinach cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic and spices, and packs plenty of spinach flavour (14/20).Breads were fine, but to me this is one area where the standard at Dastaan is higher. The naan for me could be softer and lighter in texture, while the paratha was enjoyable but had an undercooked patch (13/20).
For dessert, pistachio kulfi had good texture (15/20). Carrot halwa was warm and comforting, with a pleasing texture (15/20). Service was fine, and the bill came to £65 per person, with plenty of beer and more food than we could finish. The standard of cooking here is really high, and is now getting quite close to the level of the original Dastaan. It also has more space than its older sister and is nearer central London. The cooking here is hard to match in the capital, and is of a higher level than most of the current Michelin-starred places. This may not be in Mayfair or have a grand piano in the corner, but if you eat here then you will have some of the best Indian food that London has to offer.