The word is that nearly 80% of Indian restaurants in the UK are Bangladeshi. So when I hear about a new restaurant in Radlett specialising in Mumbai cuisine, naturally I want to know more about the Avani Indian Restaurant.
Radlett is the north west London playground of young affluent commuters, a village community of expensive houses, country lanes and just one high street with a clutch of restaurants.
It is in many ways, the perfect place to launch a new restaurant; you’re not going to be short of customers if you pick the right type of food and pitch it at the right level.
Avani ticks both of these boxes perfectly. It’s right opposite Radlett station, so those daily commuters are going to pop in on the way home. It’s on trend with a fresh clean contemporary look and it is run by authentic Mumbaikars, that is to say, its cuisine hails from Mumbay, some ways from Bangladesh you might say.
The Radlett set are beside themselves. “Now we have something else we can boast about” I can hear them cry. And I’m not ashamed to admit I agree with them.
There is a definite sense of authority with these dishes. And they are very different, in a good way, to your usual high street curry house.
Take Kolhapuri Desi Murga £12.99) for example; an on the bone slow-cooked country cockerel curry from Kolhapur in northern India. Or Rabbit, marinated in spicy yoghurt with onion, tomato and fenugreek (£12.99). Or perhaps Kid GoatXacuti, kid goat meat simmered in chillies, cumin, fennel, coriander, cloves, poppy seeds, cinnamon and star anise, all blended with roasted onion, turmeric, garlic and coconut (£12.99).
Beginning to get the picture?
Owner Ajay is adamant about his menu: “I was brought up in the restaurant business, my parents own one in Mumbai, so it is in the family blood. Mumbai cuisine is deliciously tasty with an emphasis on strong flavours in each individual dish, rather than just heat “.
He’s also picky about his ingredients: ” I only buy from local suppliers and farms so our meat and fish are as fresh as we can get.”
My drink arrives served in a jar with a handle, accompanied by a plate of chilli and garlic mogo chips. (In my head I hear another of the Radlett set squeal with delight)
The restaurant is filling up now as my starters appear: Asparagus and Shitake Tadka (£5.99) and Chiken Tikka Two Ways (£5.50) chunks of chicken tikka in two different marinades.
There are of course some curry favourites on the menu for those who lack the courage to try Mumbai cuisine or just prefer to eat old favourites.
Ajay again ” I change at least 20% of the menu each quarter to incorporate seasonal themes in the dishes.”
There’s also a good selection of vegetarian choices too including a delicious Suva and Moong Dal with green chillies, tomato and onion (£6.99 or £3.75 as a side) and Baingan Bharta, roasted and mashed aubergine with onions, tomatoes and Punjabi spices ((£6.99 or £3.75 as a side)
By the end of this journey around Mumbai cuisine I am asking more questions than I have answers. Clearly further expeditions into the menu are required before I can perhaps call myself a token Mumbaikar. But I have tasted enough to realise there is so much more to Indian food than the typical curries we see on the high street every day.
The Avani Indian Restaurant is perhaps the wind of change to our so-called national dish. The food is delicious, full marks to Ajay and his team.
As they say on the menu. This is Avani, proper Indian by Mumbaikars.
Can’t say fairer than that.
All images of Avani Indian Restaurant (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about the Avani Indian Restaurant.
70E Watling High Street , Radlett, WD7 7Mp
Tel: 01923 856 300 or 01923 857 941