Modern Indian Cooking: flavoursome and refined
It is always a happy day when you discover a new restaurant within comfortable walking distance of your home. And when it transpires that its chef is a Michelin-level trained Indian woman, who honed her skills at London’s high-end Indian restaurants, The Bombay Brasserie and its Michelin-starred sister restaurant Quilon, as well as having worked on the opening team of the very first Brasserie Blanc, (and promoted to Head Chef under the tutelage of its owner, the famed Michelin-starred Chef Raymond Blanc OBE), well then you know you’ve found the jewel in the neighbourhood crown.
PURE opened its doors quietly at the end of 2015, owned and managed by husband and wife team, Faheem Vanoo and Shilpa Dandekar, who both started their careers with the famed Taj group in India. Most British people under 65 have been brought up with easy access to Indian food, thanks to our local curry house or take-away. Our Indian cousins have adapted their family favourites over the years to meet the (sometimes) bland British palate which has in turn developed an affection for blood red tandoori sauces and hotly spiced meats. For some of us, however, it is the high fat content of many of the dishes and a sometimes lack of finesse in presentation that prevents us from indulging our guilty pleasure as often as we might. PURE Indian Cooking, will solve this problem for you. Here, the food is made with quality ingredients, clean and freshly flavoured with distinct flavours, subtle or spicy, and it all looks as pretty as a picture.
From the cocktail menu, I recommend the Mango Chilli Margarita (£7.00). This delicious concoction of chilli spiced mango, Tequila, Cointreau, Lime juice and sugar syrup established the tone on the evening I visited: heavenly flavoursome with an added twist of interest. We started with Pounded Coriander and Goat’s Cheese Samosas (served with mint, tomato & beetroot mini chutneys); Seared Scallops (with pickled beetroot, mango & chilli) and Chilli Fried Squid (crispy squid with chilli & tangy spices). My fellow diner and I behaved like children in a sweet shop: “ooh-ing” and “wow-ing” until we noticed other tables staring. Starters range in price from £6.00-£9.00.
Prices for main courses, meats, fish, and dishes from the tandoor range from £7.00 -£15.00 and all bar one of the vegetarian dishes cost £6.00. This constitutes affordable luxury as Chef Shilpa’s sparing use of oil (no ghee) and expert use of spice mean that these dishes are delightful and delicious.
We had not seen venison on the menu at our local tandoori so Coconut Venison (venison cooked in an onion & tomato masala finished with fresh ground coconut) was a given for our main course. We added to this the melt-in-the-mouthTrio of Chicken Tikka (tandoori, coriander chilli, malai chicken) and sides of refreshingly light and crisp Asparagus and Pine Nut (asparagus & pine nuts tempered with mustard & coconut) and silkily velvet Lasooni Palak (creamy spinach with brown garlic and dry fenugreek leaves). Teamed with saffron rice and a nan this was a feast which more than satisfied the stomach and was easy on the eye.
I have bad childhood memories of evaporated milk and so have always side-stepped the Kulfi dessert after “an Indian”. However, my imagination was grabbed by a Falooda with Strawberry (condensed milk, vermicelli, basil seeds and strawberry ice cream) and the divine Trio of Baked Yoghurt (Lychee, Pistachio and Mango) both of which convinced me I’ve been missing a treat.
Since its opening PURE has amassed a strong following as a relaxed dining, and exceedingly good, neighbourhood restaurant. In the flavours and preparation, the food I ate reflected Shilpa’s and Faheem’s personal journey from Mumbai to south-west London. So, for those of you who are not fortunate in having easy access to football in Fulham or the family friendly Fulham Palace Park, PURE is a stone’s throw from Putney Bridge tube station, across the bridge from the Thames Clipper’s Putney Pier and from outside the restaurant buses will take you wherever you need to go. PURE is a restaurant worth making a detour for.
PURE Indian Cooking, 67 Fulham High Street, London, SW6 3JJ
Tel: 020 7736 2521 or 020 7834 2165