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Delicious Vegan Indian Food at Chakra
January is a month filled with good intentions, miserable weather, and dull dark days. It’s no wonder that we start to find ourselves yearning for longer brighter days, a bit of warmth, and some excitement. Whilst there isn’t much to be done about a gloomy English January (apart from escape to sunnier climes), I’ve found that it is possible to stick to my good intentions and have some fun. This was achieved at the Kingston-Upon-Thames branch of Chakra, whilst enjoying their vegan menu. We have already reviewed Chakra Indian Restaurant in Kensington and can thoroughly recommend it. But this was our first visit to the Kingston upon Thames branch
Plant-based eating has become rather a trendy thing, and the team at London Unattached have reviewed several vegan restaurants/restaurants with strong vegan offerings such as Tibits Baby Bao and Pureeza. Chakra remains an omnivores restaurant but has strengthened its vegan offerings. Which is good news for those of us trying to eat less meat, not just for January but all year round.
The restaurant is situated near the heart of the shopping in Kingston, and right by the river. There’s a lovely little terrace facing the river, which must be a gorgeous place to sit and watch the world go by whilst enjoying a lovely meal. We visited on a Saturday lunchtime, and the clientele included groups of Indian ladies lunching together, couples, and families. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy, which is how a good restaurant should make its customers feel.
We started by sharing several starters. A colourful samosa served with spiced yellow peas, topped with mint, tamarind and sev. Plus avocado dumplings served with pickled beetroot purée and mustard kewpie. Both were delicious, subtly spiced, but with a little heat. The avocado dish, in particular, shows the inventiveness of the chef.
We then had starter/side dish sized portions of most of the vegan main courses, along with a truffled naan from the starters section. Our dishes included:
- Rai Wale Aloo; Tempered baby potatoes with mustard, ginger, dried green mango powder
- Dal Makhani; Slow cooked black lentils & kidney beans with burnt garlic, tomatoes, browned onion
- Baingan Bharta; Smoked aubergine mash cooked with burnt garlic, pounded chilli, tomatoes
- Tadka Palak; Creamed spinach with onions, tomatoes and spices
- Bhindi Do Pyaza; Okra tossed with onions, tomatoes and spices
- Chakra Channa; Darjeeling tea infused spiced chickpeas
The standout dish for me was the wonderfully smoky aubergine mash, with the spinach coming a close second. My companion loved the okra which had been flash fried to avoid the slimy texture that can so often be served up in restaurants. All of the dishes had a level of finesse and invention, something that we’ve come to expect from Chakra. Neither of us missed meat, fish or dairy products in the dishes.
We shared a delicious kulfi to finish (though I rather suspect that this may not have been strictly a vegan dish).
The manager was keen to know how Kingston compared to the Kensington Chakra. We were able to say that the restaurant itself is slightly less formal while the food is equally delicious.
The next time that I’m shopping in Kingston and need some refreshment, I’m going to be shunning the department store offerings and heading to the Riverside for a little of Chakra’s magic.
Bishops Palace House
020 8541 5757
Disclosure: We were guests of Chakra Indian Restaurant, Kingston-upon-Thames. All content is editorially given.