Jane Clare steps out of her comfort zone and is happy she did
ONE thing we’re not short of in Waterloo is restaurants. There’s one I’ve walked past more times than I’ve had mango chutney – the Taj Mahal.
I’d never been in this Indian on South Road, choosing instead to stick to my pilau rice comfort zones.
Then last week we thought let’s ring the changes. So we did and were greeted by friendly staff who led us up to a calmly-lit fresh-feeling booth. When I say “up” I mean a couple of steps lead to the tables, so be aware if you have special requirements.
The wine list is basic but cheap for a restaurant; a bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc is £12.50 for example. But as my partner opted for a pint of Kingfisher (£3.30) I couldn’t face a bottle on my own so had a glass of house white (£2.75) which was – well, it was wet and wine.
The important business done, we ordered four poppadoms (£4.40) which passed the “karate chop” freshness test perfectly.
In the Indian restaurant world there’s round onion bhajis and flat onion bhajis and the Taj Mahal version (£2.50) falls into the latter, which was crisp and third-of-a-plate size. Our other starter, boti kebab (£2.95) was a disappointing four cubes of lamb. Described as “lightly spiced” on the menu, emphasis should definitely be on the word “lightly”.
Lamb rezzala (£6.25) was the tastiest of our mains, tender and in a creamy onion-flecked sauce. Chicken Capsila (£7.95) had tempted as a “medium dish cooked with a very dry sauce and special spices”.
Imagine more fried onions, green peppers and quartered tomatoes than you could shake a sheek kebab at. Then add sliced chicken. It wasn’t dry, and was spicily “so what”.
As sides we had soft pearl-white potatoes with spinach (sag aloo, £2.35) which was the first happily polished off; very nice okra (bindi bhaji, £2.35) which had hints of lemon; bejewelled mushroom pilau rice (£1.95) and a fresh pull-apart chapati (£1).
Service was good, the ingredients were good, but ramp up the seasoning and spices next time please. As there will definitely be a next time.