Pandemic-related delays have left twice Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar with a lot on his plate this month, opening not one but two restaurants: fine-dining Mathura in Westminster and street food inspired Masalchi in Wembley Park.
Masalchi, which translates roughly as 'the spice master' elevates the dishes enjoyed by Atul Kochhar and his companions at markets and street food stalls during his travels in India. The restaurant is bright and airy, decorated with mosaic-tiled pillars and retro travel posters giving it a warm and relaxed vibe.
The Spice Master's Menu option includes the following:
Chicken 65 - Crisp chicken tossed with curry leaves and chilli.
Tender bites of chicken in a spicy, crispy coating, these are deliciously moreish and a great start to the menu.
Miyaji Sheekwale - Family recipe of lamb seekh kebab from Lucknowi household.
Pictured left, these are full of flavour and with an excellent texture; I often avoid this dish in restaurants as it can be dry, but this was cooked perfectly. There is an accompanying sauce but they are equally good eaten alongside the Peeli Daal, one of the menu's side dishes (also shown).
Machhi Masala - Fish in South Indian spiced sauce.
This was my stand-out dish from the menu (you can choose either this or a Mutton Keema Aloo as a main dish). Soft, gently flaking fish in a fabulously rich sauce with just enough spicy heat, mopped up with the accompanying naan; one of those dishes where you keep going back absent-mindedly for just one more swipe of sauce. Wonderful.
Chicken Makhan Palak - Classic butter chicken with spinach.
Don't be put off by memories of over-sweet take-away versions of butter chicken; this has subtle but skilful spicing and was a welcome contrast to the other dishes on the table.
Gulab Jamun - Cheese dumplings in rose syrup.
For those unfamiliar with this traditional dish there is no cheese flavour in these; rather, milk solids are a component of the dough which is light and delicate. The dough is then formed into balls, deep-fried and served with a rose syrup - good but very sweet, so I found this portion more than enough.
Masalchi has a good all-round drinks offering including a list of cocktails all priced at £9.50 and a crowd-pleasing wine list. Overall the restaurant is likely to be another well-deserved winner for Atul Kochhar, a popular and affordable addition to the local dining scene. Congratulations chef!
Check out Masalchi here.
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