Close Menu

db Eats: Tamarind Kitchen

db’s Phoebe French heads to Tamarind Kitchen in London’s Soho for truffle naan bread, a tangy Alleppy fish curry and succulent lamb cutlets.


The concept: Tamarind Kitchen is the new sister restaurant of Tamarind in Mayfair, one of the first Indian restaurants in the world to be awarded a Michelin star. The latest addition to the Tamarind collection, Tamarind Kitchen showcases the same fragrant Mughlai cuisine in a less formal setting.

Nimbuwala jhinga – butterflied king prawns with red pepper sauce.

Located in London’s Soho, the menu was designed by Tamarind’s acclaimed head chef Peter Joseph, with chef, blogger and cookery teacher Hari Ghotra taking the helm. Cleverly incorporating tamarind into many of the dishes, Tamarind Kitchen may be less formal than its commended cousin, but the cookery is of the same high standard.

The décor: Designed by Russell Stage Studio, the team behind the interiors of Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social, Gordon Ramsay’s Pétrus and Avenue on St James’s Street, to name a few, the décor is inspired by the palatial architecture of Northern India.

While muted and understated from the exterior, a pair of ornately carved wooden doors framing the entrance hint at what is to come. The interior is rich and opulent with dark wooden panelling, plush velvet cushions and elaborate filigree ornaments. It is a touch too dark – the ceiling lamps, which are suspended over each table, do cast an adequate amount of light, but it seems a shame to obscure food with such vibrant colour and flavour.

The look is completed with a waft of the sweet, perfumed aromatics of Indian incense. I was slightly concerned that the smell of the burning joss sticks would interfere with that of the food, but my fears were soon allayed when the first course was brought out. Indeed, I smelt Tamarind Kitchen before I saw it. The arresting aroma of spiced meat cooking in a tandoor oven drifts down Wardour Street, whetting the appetite before you even step through the door.

Makai Kachumber – textures of corn and vegetable salad with chat-honey masala dressing.

The food: Tamarind Kitchen gives a masterclass in the fine art of spicing, championing subtlety and complexity over tongue-blistering heat, as all good Indian restaurants should. Traditional Moghul cuisine takes centre stage, with a tempting array of fish, lamb and game cooked in an authentic Tandoor oven.

Choose from some familiar dishes such as tandoori chicken or lamb biryani or experiment with nimbuwala jhinga, delicately spiced butterflied king prawns with a red pepper sauce. The menu is divided into appetisers, ‘kababs,’ mains, vegetables and accompaniments, with diners advised to choose one from each section to share.

Signature dishes: The tantalisingly tangy Alleppy fish curry should definitely make it onto your table, a South Indian cobia fish curry flavoured with tamarind, mustard and curry leaves. The fish is deliciously moist and oily, both holding its shape but also taking on the flavours of the sauce.

Our waiter recommended the makai kachumber, a sweetcorn and vegetable salad with chat-honey masala dressing. Intrigued, as sweetcorn is not something I associate with Indian cuisine, I was pleasantly surprised, particularly by the crispy, battered pieces of corn that are beautifully light and nutty.

The pudina chops, marinated lamb cutlets paired with a zingy radish salad, were soft and tender, the spicy crust brought to life with the addition of the mint.

The drinks: The cocktail menu, like the interior, takes inspiration from the food, with sips such as Bombay anar and a passion fruit and chilli martini. I opted for the mango mirchi, a blend of vodka, fresh red chillies, lime and mango which offered a pleasant spiced fruit kick, the cocktail equivalent of mango chutney. My guest opted for the tamarind reserve, a blend of rum, lime, brown sugar, sweet tamarind and ginger beer, the sweet and tangy notes mimicking several dishes on the menu.

Alleppy fish curry.

Tamarind Kitchen boasts a comprehensive, but not overly long wine list. With 40 wines to choose from, the list includes classic Burgundian offerings such as Domaine Alain Chavy Puligny Montrachet through to a Portugese red from Quinta do Crasto and a Gruner Veltliner from Erich Machherndl. The wines are grouped into rather amusing categories such as ‘aristocrat reds’ and ‘adventurous whites’ with 15 also available by the glass as well as the bottle. I opted for an ‘adventurous white’, a Vermentino from Cantina Santadi in Sardinia coming in at £8.80 for 175ml, the aromatic aromas of white peach, tarragon and almond a good match for the flavourful dishes.

Both Tamarind Kitchen and mothership Tamarind do not include beer on their drinks menus. This is a missed opportunity, as, certainly in Tamarind Kitchen, the wealth of fruit or spiced beers now available in London alone would compliment both the cocktails and food.

Who to know: Devraj Sarker was incredibly obliging throughout our meal, offering menu guidance and insuring glasses were never empty. The service in general was attentive without being oppressive, with waiting and kitchen staff coping well with a busy Thursday night service.

Don’t leave without: Trying the rich tomato and nigella seed sauce accompanying the lentil crisps. The truffle naan, Tamarind Kitchen’s signature naan, is also not to be missed, arriving coated in fine shavings of earthy truffle. Try to save some for the curry, it’s a challenge…

Last word: Tamarind Kitchen is one to remember, located not far off Oxford Street, it is a welcome escape from the crowds. It is heartening to witness spices handled in such an expert manner – flavours are multi-dimensional and build into a crescendo. For me, the mains prevail over the desserts, although the creamy pistachio kulfi is a definite winner. If I were to be hyper-critical, I would have liked to see more vegetarian dishes – Indian cuisine being one in which the vegetables frequently outshine the meat. This, however, does not take away from the skilful and proficient cooking showcased at this welcome addition to Soho’s culinary scene.


Tamarind Kitchen, 167-169 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 8WR, Tel: 02072874243.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No