Haandi opened in 2000, and for almost two decades has been one of the better, and highly consistent, Indian restaurants in London. It is under the same ownership as restaurants in Uganda and Kenya, but this is the only London branch of the group – there was formerly a sister place in Edgware, but that closed in 2014. One reason for that consistency is that Haandi has had the same head chef and sous chef since its opening almost two decades ago. The suave owner, Mr Singh, seems ever-present and oversees things with a natural charm.
The cooking is north Indian, and attention is paid to the little details. Popadoms here are made fresh for each service, fried rather than grilled and are unusually crisp and delicate. One of the stalwart dishes is murgh burra tikka, a generous portion of chicken tikka with plenty of flavour from the marinade and with tender meat (14/20). Fish tikka was also good, the fish having a smoky flavour note from the grilling process, though the texture tonight was not quite as good as I recall (still 13/20).
Vegetable dishes have always been a strong suit. Cauliflower and potatoes with peas retain the texture of the vegetables really well, and are cooked in a rich masala sauce (15/20). Aloo chollay was also good, the chickpeas nicely tender and working well with the potato pieces and the rich blend of spices in the sauce (14/20). They served a particularly good naan bread tonight, freshly made and piping hot, soft and supple in texture and much mre delicate than a typical example of the breed (16/20). Finally, carrot halwa was very good, avoiding being overly clogged with ghee as so often occurs with this dish (14/20).
Service, which features two waiters that also have been here since the opening night, was very good. The bill came to £34 per person with Kingfisher beer to drink and with more food than we could eat – they will happily pack up anything that you cannot finish. Haandi seems invisible to social media, but the packed dining room this Sunday is testament that you don’t have been the latest “in” place to be a long-term success.