Red Koyla (“hot charcoal”) opened in July 2022, run by chef Naseem Qureshi, who had worked for three decades at the Oberoi hotel group in India and also at Sheraton hotels before working at Chatora. Red Koyla is on the main high street in Teddington, with a bar area to the back as you enter. The menu is mostly quite familiar north Indian in style, with a few more exotic dishes. There were three beers on offer: Cobra, Kingfisher and the more exotically named Flying Buffalo, a Punjabi beer made with Himalayan water. The meal began with fried poppadoms and a trio of chutneys, the dried tomato chutney being the pick of these.
Spinach and onion bhaji flavoured with ginger and coriander was quite pleasant, the fried gram flour casing just a little greasier than ideal (12/20). Aloo channa chaat was a little better, the potato cake at the centre supplemented with chickpea masala, sev and mint chutney. For me there could have been a little more flavour contrast, perhaps from some tamarind chutney, but this was certainly an enjoyable dish (13/20).
Methi murgh with spinach and fenugreek was nice enough, the chicken quite tender; I would have liked to see more in the way of fresh fenugreek flavour and a slightly punchier spice blend, but this was fine (12/20). Aloo jeera had stir-fried potatoes flavoured with cumin that could have been cooked a little less to my taste (12/20). Stir-fried okra with onion, tomato and cumin avoided the sogginess that often afflicts this dish, but for me the texture of the bhindi could still have been firmer (13/20). Saag paneer was tossed with fenugreek, dill and basil and could have had deeper spinach flavour, as the version of this dish at Dastaan does (12/20). The best dish by some margin was the black dhal, which had excellent texture and a pleasing, smoky taste (14/20). Naan bread was fine (12/20).
For dessert, mango shrikand was too runny, being more like a custard than a true shrikand (11/20). Gulab jamun was better, the sweet fried dumplings flavoured nicely with saffron syrup and scented with a little cardamon (13/20). Service was excellent and the bill came to £37 a person. Red Koyla is a capable neighbourhood restaurant with a genuinely classy dhal dish in its locker. If this was near where I lived then I would happily return.