We’ve all been there, at a location in Central London where you think despite the prime location, it does feel like being in the middle of nowhere. Salaam Namaste is a case in point. They are only minutes away from Russell Square tube station but they are in an area which is hugely residential with no competitor restaurants in site. Hence it was hardly surprising to see the restaurant almost at full capacity on what would have been a quiet Sunday night.
The unpretentious, family-style nature of the restaurant is perhaps another reason why locals have flocked to the restaurant. Although the excessive use of the colour yellow doesn’t actually suit any restaurant; the interesting story is it has been claimed the Indian yellow pigment originated from rural India using the urine of cattle that has been fed with only mango leaves and water.
Thankfully, the food here is a much more refined affair. Old Delhi’s Aloo Tikki Chaat is one of the most beautiful ways of presenting golden fried mashed potatoes you will ever see. It is coated in a variety of spicy sauces along with tangy tasting chickpeas.
For those who do believe variety is the spice of life, Tandoori Ratan is the starter to order. It has a fine mixture of different styles and meats/seafood. The king prawn is plump and had a welcoming kick from the Piri Piri sauce, whilst the shahi chicken seekh is tender without the spices being too overpowering. Although I tasted little mint in the Pudina lamb chop.
I was in an adventurous mood and tried their Moru Kachiathu, which had sweet mangoes and green bananas cooked in yoghurt along with green chillies, ginger and fresh curry leaves. It was great to try something unusual but probably not my dish of choice on a Sunday night, as it did taste extremely sweet like a dessert and I couldn’t help but think of the yellow pigment I would be producing later on that evening. Yes, it was very generously portioned.
Paneer Lababdar was the more popular choice on the night with delectable cubes of cottage cheese soaked in a pool of hearty tomatoes, peppers and Indian spices. There was plenty of sauce on hand, so it was great to sample this dish along with their unusual dates and ginger naan.
It was a struggle to fit in desserts as well with the decent portion sizes they offer here, but we did share a tandoori-spiced pineapple with coconut ice cream. It managed to turn a non-pineapple fan like myself into a flag-waving pineapple advocate. Perhaps the spice helps to negate the overly sweet taste you sometimes get in pineapples and makes the dish more nuanced.
They also have a sister restaurant in Camden which we will no doubt hope to check out and report back on very soon.