Superior Indian dining in Chelsea
Kahani means ‘story’ in Hindu, and it is here in the heart of Chelsea opposite Cadogan Hall that Michelin-starred chef Peter Joseph shares his culinary story serving superior Indian food with his signature modern twist.
Originally from Chennai, India, where his passion for cooking grew, Peter was heavily influenced by his surroundings, visiting local markets which were full of rousing aromas, vibrant colours and fresh ingredients, he used to join his mother in the kitchen, watching and learning picking up traditional recipes and cooking tips.
Peter first made his name at the Michelin starred Tamarind restaurant which he left in 2018 to set up Kahani. This elegant restaurant is set in an open-plan basement with a private dining room mezzanine and a glass window leading to the theatre of the kitchen. It’s seductively lit with striking raffia light fittings, a vaulted wine cellar, long bar and Azure coloured seating.
We visited the night before the second lockdown started and Kahani was buzzing with happy customers, all carefully socially distanced but still enjoying the vibe of eating out.
We started the evening with some pretty, lightly spiced cocktails, which were the perfect aperitif to our Indian feast. My Gulab Martini was a heady yet delicate mix of vodka, lychee, lemon and rose syrup. My companion chose a spiced pear winter gin fizz from the Winter Selection, which combined Elephant London Dry Gin, lemon juice, homemade spiced pear cordial and egg white, it was beautifully presented with balanced acidity, spiced with star anise.
These were accompanied by a selection of crisp Poppadum and mouth-watering chutneys – including a not too sweet mango, rich spicy tomato and sweet and sour mint and tamarind.
We chose a bottle of Carlomagno, Fiano, Puglia – this slightly honeyed wine stood up to the spice with its well-structured acidity and zesty notes of lemon and grapefruit.
I love chaat, and Peter’s version was a beautifully composed mix of spiced chickpeas, mint, tamarind chutney which balanced with the coolness of sweetened yoghurt and the crunch of the papdi – delicious!
We followed with perfectly seared scallops in a smoked pepper chutney, shrimp pickle and fragrant star anise which didn’t overwhelm.
Our waiter recommended the tandoori broccoli, a signature dish which provided a completely different take on this everyday vegetable. Coated in honey, nigella seeds, crushed wheat crisps gave it a lovely nutty crunch, in contrast to the creaminess of tempered yoghurt. The rich succulent tikka paneer made a good addition, served with peppers and red onion, pickling spice and a mint and coriander sauce.
For our mains, we enjoyed a magnificent lobster tail, vivid in colour and full of flavour, tossed with shallots, brown garlic and crushed peppercorn in a rich tomatoey sauce.
Kori Gassi – chicken simmered with curry leaves peppercorn and coconut, was beautifully buttery and tender, infused with rich warm spices with a bit of bite.
Served alongside was a dish of Jeera Aloo – sautéed potatoes flecked with cumin, classic pilau rice and flaky garlic studded naan.
For dessert, a medley of kulfis – rose malai, pistachio and salted caramel with honeycomb sprinkles provided an excellent light cooling option and a perfect way to finish off a glorious meal.
Kahani provides the ideal relaxed Indian fine dining experience in lovely surroundings and with great service. What I particularly enjoyed was the lightness of the dishes, they were packed with delicious flavours, but there were no weighty, oppressive sauces, that sometimes leave you feeling too full after a curry. Kahani is right up my street and I look forward to returning once lockdown is lifted. Right now, it’s still open for takeaway and deliveries – and they also have a range of cook at home food boxes with all the hard work taken away and just the fun of finishing off the pre-marinated dishes. Now that the end of Lockdown is in sight though, perhaps it’s worth booking yourself a table at Kahani!
We have been reviewing some delicious Indian food options recently. If you are not based in London (or even if you are, but want food to stock up your freezer) how about the Nationwide food delivery service from Mandira’s Kitchen – the food is delivered deep-chilled ready to freeze if you like or to eat straight away. Highly recommended by us!