Kahani, which means 'story' in Hindi, is the tale of Peter Joseph (ex-Tamarind). A Michelin-starred chef, Joseph started his own restaurant to showcase and elevate expectations of Indian cuisine with tasting menus, wine pairings, top quality British produce, carefully layered flavours and precise, pared-back plating.
We had the six-course tasting menu with the recommended wine pairing.
Gift from the chef: kale pakora
A delicately crispy curl of lightly-battered kale with a spritz of tangy sauce to balance the deep-fried element. A promising indication of things to come.
Spiced chickpeas with sweetened yoghurt, mint, tamarind chutney, papdi
Wine pairing: 2019 Kilikanoon, Mort's Block Dry Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia
This was a refreshing start to the actual tasting menu, evoking the familiar flavours of a mint chutney dipping sauce and then elevating it with a drizzle of tamarind and fresh pomegranate. Papdi, little deep-fried crackers, take the place of poppadoms and add texture. Clare Valley produces dry Rieslings with vibrant citrus and apple flavours and good acidity, a perfect partner for spicy dishes like this.
Char-grilled Scottish scallop, star anise, pepper chutney, barley khichdi
Wine pairing: Bollinger Special Cuvee, Ay, Champagne, France
Star anise is a good flavour pairing with scallops but the balance has to be carefully handled to prevent their natural sweetness being overpowered by spice. This was deftly done, the scallops cooked beautifully with a lasting tingle of heat, the spiced rice and lentil base providing a comforting yet light, healthy base. Add a glass of Bollinger and it's pretty hard to beat.
Smoked Malabar prawns marinated with fresh turmeric, coconut, curry leaves
Wine pairing: 2020 Hamilton Russell, Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa
Another winning seafood dish; the plump prawns had a a spicy crust with real warmth and the smoked tomato alongside was an absolute umami bomb. If there is a recipe out there somewhere for this, I need it. The full bodied, bright and lightly-oaked Chardonnay had pronounced notes of peach and pear and a long, complex finish - perfect for drinking with seafood.
Guinea fowl tikka, Chettinad spices, smoked tomato sauce, ajwain roti
Wine pairing: 2017 Tapanappa 'Foggy Hill' Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia
The same deeply-flavoured smoked tomato sauce base is here, with rich, perfectly-cooked guinea fowl and a light roti spiced with ajwain, which not only adds an aromatic flavour but is a spice widely believed to be beneficial to digestive health. The paired Pinot Noir was wonderfully smooth with ripe cherry flavours that complemented the dish well.
Passion fruit sorbet & rose granita
A quick palate cleanser before the main event: a fresh zingy sorbet (which benefited from a few minutes' resting time at room temperature to achieve the perfect texture) and a softly perfumed rose granita, a great reset button.
Somerset lamb chops, Kashmiri chillies, Nagercoil clove: served with baby potato, Dal Maharani, rice & naan
Wine pairing: 2019 Jean-Luc Columbo, 'Les Fees Brunes' Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France
A generous portion of lamb smothered in an aromatic chilli sauce, plus a delicious dal (slightly different spicing but very much up there with THAT black dal) served with the classic triple carbs of potatoes, rice and bread to mop it up. My wine pairing for this was an interesting Crozes-Hermitage, full-bodied and a little spicy with blackcurrant and ripe black plum flavours - a great selection to stand up to the rich lamb dish.
Chocolate delight, almond brittle, caramel ice cream
1998 Taylor's Vintage Port, Quinta de Vargellas, Portugal
A real treat for the sweet-toothed diner, the final course was a smooth chocolate delice with caramel ice cream plus some chocolate crumb, caramel drizzle, clusters of almond brittle and the welcome freshness of strawberry. The port had a slight chocolatey note of its own and was a pleasing match with the chocolate dessert.
Kahani has a fine dining vibe to it: hushed conversations, mellow, jazzy music, comfortable seating, attentive staff - there's even a gently flickering open fire (not real, but still rather cosy). The food more than lives up to expectations and it was exciting to see traditional techniques and flavours adapted to a high-end audience. The dishes have a common theme: contemporary and apparently simple but precisely balanced and with carefully layered flavours, incorporating excellent produce and elements that are light, healthy and leave you with the appetite for more. Prepare to rethink your idea of Indian food.
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