Last Updated on November 1, 2021
A Story in Food – Kahani by Peter Joseph
There are some restaurants in London where I know I am guaranteed a feast. Kahani, an Indian restaurant discretely located behind Sloane Square and a minute or two from Cadogan Hall is a great example. Peter Joseph, the Michelin starred chef from Tamarind, set up Kahani with the aim of presenting a new Indian fusion cuisine. Although Joseph comes from Tamil Nadu in the south of India, the restaurant’s cuisine draws inspiration from across the country and aims to offer a light, fresh menu influenced by Peter’s travels across India, Spain and England. The space itself is charming too. Although Kahani is below ground level, it has a lovely warm feeling with lush velvet upholstery and contemporary artwork on the walls.
For the evening, there’s a great a la carte menu and two set options, a 6-course tasting menu priced at £70 with paired wines for £55 and a shorter 4-course Dawat menu (£52, or £48 for the vegetarian option). Now, for me, a tasting menu should be the ultimate food story, where a good chef will take you on a culinary journey. And, it’s the obvious choice if you are trying to review a restaurant you already know that you love.
One thing that makes this tasting menu so special for me is the wine pairing. It’s relatively easy to pair wines if you know the cuisine well. But, pairings for Indian dishes are quite challenging – and so much easier if you know both the food and the wine. Here, the tasting menu provides some excellent pairings through a £55 wine flight. It offers excellent value (6 glasses of good quality fine for £55 including a Sauternes and a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvée). And, it makes the story so much better!
While we waited for our first course, an amuse-bouche in the form of kale pakora arrived. Served with Kahani’s homemade tamarind and jaggery chutney, this was a lovely introduction to the food we were about to enjoy with the sweet-sour chutney and cleansing kale just tempting us for what came next.
Spiced chickpeas with sweetened yoghurt, mint, tamarind chutney and papdi (little)e bits of deep-fried cracker was a dish I’ve enjoyed before but loved no less this time.
Paired with the first of our wines, a minerally mouthful of 2019 Kilikanoon, Mort’s Block Dry Riesling from Clare Valley, Australia it was even better than I remembered. I love the little nuggets of pomegranate seeds that burst with flavour through the dish. Spicier than I remembered, this poshed-up street food dish is truly delicious.
The next dish came with a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvée. The champagne itself has a lovely apple and pear nose with a brioche toastiness. Pairing it with a char-grilled Scottish scallop on tomato chutney, coated with a delicate dusting of star anise and topped with pickled shrimp puree really brought out the sweetness of the scallop.
The scallop was perfectly cooked with just a hint of char – a delicious mouthful that left us both wanting more!
Smoked Malabar prawns marinated with fresh turmeric and served with a creamy coconut sauce and curry leaves is a classic Southern Indian dish. I’m wondering if this is one I could make at home – though I doubt I’d get the spicing as perfect or the presentation as pretty. Our prawns were paired with 2020 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay from Hemel-En-Aarde Valley in South Africa which was robust enough to complement the creamy spicy seasoning perfectly.
Another Southern Indian influenced dish, guinea fowl tikka with Chettinad spices came with smoked tomato sauce and ajwain (carom) roti came with our first red wine – a glass of nicely rounded 2017 Tapanappa “Foggy Hill” pinot noir from Australia, delicious wine with notes of cherry and strawberry fruits.
A palate cleanser of lychee and raspberry sorbet was beautifully refreshing and well-timed to give us a short break before we moved on to what felt almost like a main course in its own right.
Somerset lamb chops with Kashmiri chillis and Nagercoil clove, an old favourite of mine came with spicy baby potatoes, dal Maharani, a contemporary speciality from New Delhi which is based on toor or pigeon peas and split black lentils, rice and naan. I was intrigued enough by the spicing to search out more about the spicing. while Kashmiri chilli comes from the north of India, Nagercoil cloves are a speciality of Tamil Nadu. I’d love to know how Peter manages to produce such beautifully flavoured, tender lamb cutlets. With the yoghurt sauce on the side, this remains one of my favourite dishes ever.
The 2019 Jean-Luc Colombo, “Les Fees Brunes” Crozes-Hermitage, from the Rhône Valley, France was another excellent pairing with rich notes of blackcurrant and raspberry and a savoury-mineral backdrop.
A picture-perfect Kulfi platter came with a garnish of fresh fruits. For me, there’s nothing quite like finishing a meal with a good dessert and a tasting of sweet wine. The 2016 Petit Guiraud, Sauternes was the perfect foil for the creamy kulfi and rounded off our meal to perfection.
I’m truly thrilled that Kahani, which I visited when it first opened, has settled in so well. It is unusual for me to ask about future celebratory menus but, as we were eating through the tasting menu, I realised that Diwali is around the corner. And, hot on the heels of Diwali is Christmas. Of course, there are some stunning menus for both already planned. The Diwali set menu is £60, while Christmas menus start at £29 for three courses, with a rather splendid Christmas Day lunch for £90.
Kahani itself has a charming and intimate private dining room on the mezzanine level and while I’ve never dined there, it’s the perfect location allowing total privacy but still enabling you to feel as if you are part of the restaurant! It struck me that if I was planning a works event, a family Diwali or Christmas celebration or just a meet up with a group of friends, this would be an unusual and fabulous place to book. Finally, the tasting menu does genuinely tell a story, a journey through the colours and flavours of India that will excite your palate and fill your stomach, while the wine pairings offer exceptional value for money and genuinely enhance each of the dishes that they partner.
1 Wilbraham Place
Looking for something different? We also recommend Madhu’s at the Dilly