Haandi is tucked away in a quiet street near Harrods, yet is a long way from the glitzy restaurants that populate much of Knightsbridge these days. The dining area has two sections, with the kitchen on view through a large glass partition in the main room. It serves Punjabi food and has sister restaurants in Uganda and Kenya that first opened as long ago as 1991. This particular Haandi opened in 2000 and I have been eating here on a regular basis ever since.
Chicken burra tikka is chicken tikka using a rather spicier marinade than usual. The meat avoided dryness and was tender, the spices vibrant without being overly assertive (14/20). The aloo gobi here is particularly impressive. Often a soggy mess, here the potatoes and cauliflower retain their texture, suffused with spices and keeping their flavour. This is as good a vegetarian curry as you will find in London (15/20). Also excellent was aloo chollay, chickpeas with a few potatoes mixed in, cooked together in a rich sauce whose spices were in careful balance (14/20).
Paratha was another example of the skill in the kitchen. All too often it can be either greasy or dried out, but here its texture was spot on, with just the right amount of butter (14/20). Only fish tikka was a touch below the generally high standard, the fish cooked properly but a little limp in texture, and for me the marinade could have been spicier. It was still perfectly competent, but not quite to the same standard as the other dishes (13/20).
Service tonight was from a waiter called Henry, a friendly gentleman who has been here for many years, and the owner was also in evidence overseeing things. The bill came to £35 per person including beer. Haandi delivers consistently excellent Indian food. It is resolutely unfashionable, and will not be attracting hordes of social media mavens any time soon. Good – I can continue to enjoy its quiet pleasures without having to plan too far ahead for a reservation.