Udit Sarkhel used to run the excellent Sarkhels (and a couple of other places in south London) but after a divorce in 2007 he was forced to sell up, and initially left London entirely. He is now back cooking at (but does not own) a rebranded Mango and Silk in Sheen. The dining room is narrow and the decor simple, with fairly comfortable wicker-backed chairs and assorted prints of Indian scenes on the cream-coloured walls. Popadoms (50p) come with decent but shop-bought chutneys (mango, lime) and a home-made yoghurt and mint sauce.
I began with Goan prawn balchao (£5.50), which is a few prawns in a spicy masala sauce served with naan bread. The prawns were nicely cooked and the sauce was spicy and lively, the bread good (13/20). This was better than Bombay ragara (£3.95), essentially a deconstructed aloo tikki with a vegetable pattie, curried chickpeas and chutney (mint chutney and a rather watery tamarind chutney). The chickpeas were tender but the potato pattie rather dull (11/20).
Main courses also showed inconsistency. A chicken biriani (£8.95) was advertised as being cooked in a sealed pot, so I hoped to see a clay pot with a pastry seal, as an authentic biriani should be, but instead just a dish of rice and chicken appeared. The rice was cooked nicely and the chicken was pleasant if a little dry but they are missing an opportunity here (12/20). Malai fish curry (£7.95) was cooked with a mild coconut curry sauce, but the fish itself was rather tasteless, the sauce lacking vibrant spicing (11/20). On the other hand okra (£5.50) was excellent, cooked carefully with onions and tomatoes (13/20), channa (£5.50) had tender chickpeas (12/20) and naan bread (£1.50) was very good indeed, light and fluffy (13/20). Yet a simple bowl of steamed rice (£2.50) had a clumpy consistency (10/20).
Apparently Udit is single-handed in the kitchen with just a couple of helpers, and it would appear that he is over-stretched. This is a real shame as he is a fine cook, and I would love to see him return to his best form.