Tucked away in a corner of Kensington’s Holland Street is Chakra, an elegant restaurant exuding buckets of charm along with its sub-continent inspired jewels colour palette decor. Drawn by the promise of their specialty in north Indian dishes with Punjabi influences as well as delicacies from other regions across India, we went along to sample the menu, and were not disappointed.
One of three branches based in London (one of which is a delivery service only), Chakra serves a wide range of curries, rice dishes and grilled delicacies. The restaurant uses the method of tandoor, which gives the dishes their signature slightly charred effect, whilst keeping meat-based dishes deliciously succulent inside.
We decided to start the night off with a classic – the Papadum Chutney (£3.50). A papdum (aka poppadum) is a thin circular crisp made from a mixture of flour and water which is then fried. The dish was a lovely way to start the meal, it was lightly seasoned, crispy and aromatic. What made this simple dish more enjoyable, was the trio of dips it was served with; a mango chutney, yoghurt curry and tomato chilli – from sweet to spicy, the dips definitely added another element of flavour.
Another starter that we sampled was the Lucknowi Samosa Chaat (£7.50). This was a twist on samosas, the classic Indian pastry favourite. The traditional dish was elevated with an explosion of flavours including a bed of spiced chickpeas, topped with mint and tamarind. Not only was this dish packed with flavour, but it was visually pleasing to look at too. Call this dish a samosa on steroids, from the tangy yoghurt to the sweetness of the tamarind and pomegranates, these additional flavours elevated the dish. The ingredients delicately balanced out the wet and dry textures, so despite the pastry being drenched in yoghurt and tamarind sauce, the pastry remained crispy. Though we enjoyed this dish, if you like your samosas simple then you may find the flavours rather overwhelming, so this is only for those willing to expands their palettes.
The Chakra menu has a large variety of options, so if you’re indecisive you’ll have fun with this one. If you want to get a taste of the whole menu between two people, we advise you get one dish from the street food, chota plates, Indian grill and Desi Classics. Additionally, there are set menus from £40 per person which also give the option to eat as many dishes as possible.
We ordered the Goan Prawn Curry (£15.95), a dish with king prawns in a sauce of caramelised onion, coconut milk and mangosteen. The curry was seasoned well, subtly spicy and balanced out well by the sweetness and smokiness of the caramelised onions. Personally, I felt the prawns were a little too chewy and would have preferred they were cooked for less time.
To accompany the curry, we opted for the Jeera & Saffron Pulao (£6) rice and Sade Chawal, plain basmati rice (£5). Out of the two, the Jeera & Saffron Pulao rice best complemented the Goan curry, as the saffron infused rice was both aesthetically and aromatically appealing thanks to the yellow colour and floral scent.
Special mention to the Garlic Naan (£4.50), which was thin and crisp and loaded with fresh garlic and butter, a real treat!
We also sampled the Makhmali Lamb Seekh (£10.95), a spiced minced lamb with crushed coriander and mint which is then grilled in a tandoor. Overall, the dish was a treat as every ounce of the kebab was filled with flavour and spice, and the lamb was moist and tasty. The side of mint sauce was a nice addition, but it wouldn’t have been missed as the kebab had so much flavour already.
The dessert menu has both classic Indian desserts such as Gulab Jamun to more classic dishes (Raspberry Sorbet). We ordered the Chocolate Fondant Cake (£6.95), which was everything it needed to be, it was gooey in the middle and the cake was moist. We also tried the Raspberry Sorbet (£6.95), which was refreshing, tart and sweet – overall, this was a lighter dessert, the perfect way to end such a lovely meal.
Our visit to Chakras was undoubtedly an aromatic and sensual dining experience, due to the opulent decor. From the fresh flowers on the table, to the candles and aroma and flavour filled dishes, we recommend you visit it, one of Kensington’s hidden gems!
Visit: Chakra Indian Restaurant (Kensington)
33C Holland St,
Image credits: Esther Oluga (@essieeats) / Melan Magazine
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