Coriander – Bengali Indian in Hatch End:
It’s rare for me to venture North, out of zone 2. But, an invitation to review Coriander in Hatch End was timely as my good friend The-Hedonist has a London base up that way. And, I like Indian food, especially at this time of year when I seem to get a craving for well-spiced food.
Coriander is an award winning restaurant with North Indian and Bengali specialities. Now, I am not an expert on regional Indian food, but I was keen to see what we might be served. Bengali cuisine depends on rice and fish – the region has both freshwater and saltwater fish (from the bay of Bengal).
We started the meal with poppadums and pickles – mango chutney, lime pickle, red onion and raitha. The-Hedonist ordered a Mango Lassi while we indulged in a rather good bottle of Sancerre (£28.95) which we shared throughout the rest of the meal. If you happen to want something else to drink, Coriander has an extensive cocktail list, a short wine list and a reasonable selection of beers, including a few Indian options.
After some debate, we decided to order what we thought would be just a little bit more food than we needed as starters, in the form of what we believed were sharing platters for two. As there were three of us eating, we opted for two platters – but I suspect our very hospitable hosts decided we should all taste everything as we ended up with at least three each of the items on the platters – the seafood platter £16.95) had three delicious butterfly king prawns, prawn puri and fish tikka
And the vegetarian platter (£14.95) came with some large onion bhajees an excellent chilli paneer with home made paneer, aloo imli puri and vegetable shingara
We ordered three signature dishes for main courses –
The-Hedonist, who was clearly in the mood for some comfort food, ordered Bhaza bass (£14.50), a dish of seasoned pan fried bass served on Indian mash. Bangladeshi cuisine includes a range of mashed, spiced vegetables and here you can order dishes like the bass or indulge in a side dish of Indian Mash. A comforting plateful of fish cooked with spices and onions on a bed of creamy spiced mashed potato, it looked delicious.
Meanwhile, our other companion had picked the Hariyali Chicken (£11.90). I tasted a mouthful and was impressed with the light, fresh flavour of the dish – strips of chicken breast cooked with mint, coriander and a green herb sauce.
My own Khulna king prawn (£15.90) was my favourite of the three dishes. Plump and tender prawns cooked in a dryish thick, fresh tasting tomato and herb sauce. with onions and peppers.
Lemon rice (£3.90) was deliciously buttery and fragrant and I particularly enjoyed the Brinjal Bhajee (£4.25).
The Garlic nan (£2.95) looked wonderful but, I avoided eating any in some effort to keep the calorie count down just a little bit – and similarly, avoided the Dal Massalla (£4.25) which looked wonderfully filling!
I do, however, have a sweet tooth and when I was offered one of three traditional desserts, the Gajar Halwa was an easy choice. After all, it is full of carrots and almonds so it must be good for you?
This particular Halwa was delicious. Very sweet and sticky but still fragrant with almonds and with a distinct carrot flavour and texture.
I love Gulab Jamun too but did nothing more than have a spoonful of the Coriander offering. It was light and sweet and had I not just eaten most of the Halwa I might have managed a little more.
Our third dessert was a Rasmalai. I didn’t even taste this – by now I really couldn’t have eaten another thing. It’s a traditional Bengali dessert though which is sometimes described as a bit like a cheesecake without the crust. It looked delicious and I’ll definitely make a point of trying it if I return.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Coriander. I don’t feel in any way qualified to comment on the authenticity or otherwise of the dishes, but they were lighter, with what I can only describe as ‘drier and thicker’ sauces than is sometimes the case. The ingredients were clearly excellent quality and the food was beautifully presented.
Coriander is a friendly and welcoming restaurant with contemporary decor and a comfortable interior design. And, I’m sure that if like The-Hedonist’, I lived ten minutes or so away, I’d quickly become a regular customer.
282 Uxbridge Road
Tel: 020 8428 8166
or : 020 8428 9781