A Review of Itihaas Indian Restaurant, Dalkeith
Growing up on the East Coast of South Africa you’d think that I would have a palate use to spices and heat from the abundance of Indian cuisine and culture – unfortunately not but this does mean that I love the more traditional Indian dishes and know that real Indian cuisine isn’t about a curry with hot spices that just burns your mouth – it’s about building the flavour profile in each mouthful and allowing you to taste each spice. Ordering a Vindaloo and a beer just doesn’t hack it!
What I do find fascinating is that Edinburgh and the Lothians focus more on Bangladeshi cuisine, subtle spices with layers of heat whilst Glasgow prefers Punjabi cuisine which is a little more robust with aggressive instant heat.
So I was delighted when I visited Itihaas Indian Restaurant in Dalkeith last week. It’s a traditional Indian restaurant with crisp white tableclothes, proper menus and all the staff are smartly dressed.
On arrival we were quickly shown to our table and ice cold water delivered shortly afterwards; followed almost immediately were a large basket of poppadoms and accompanying dips.
The poppadoms where large crispy and plentiful and the four dips – onion salad, mango chutney, mixed pickle chutney and mint & yoghurt sauce were so very tasty. It’s worth mentioning that they do have an extensive wine and beer menu here, but as we were driving it was soft drinks and water for us.
I managed to build my ultimate poppadom bite – a spoonful of mango chutney on the bottom, a spoonful of onion salad and then the mint & yoghurt sauce on the top. Crunchy, sweet, spicy and cool.
Whilst munching our way through the mountain of poppadoms we perused the menu. There is a lot to choose from here; and they also do a lunchtime menu, a Sunday menu, a tapas menu and a Christmas menu. We chose from the A La Carte menu.
For starters we ordered the Haggis Pakora (lightly spiced lamb haggis coated in a traditional spiced batter) and Murghi Chatt (small pieces of chicken cooked with tomatoes and cucumbers in a hot and spicy sour sauce served in a pancake).
The Murghi Chatt was delightful. The pancake was stuffed full of the chicken tomato filling and the pancake itself was light and crispy on the edges. This dish was slightly spicy but with the lovely pancake, it evened out the spices and I enjoyed a few mouthfuls.
The Haggis Pakora I wasn’t overly keen on only because they didn’t meet MY expectations and what I thought a Haggis Pakora would be like. I was expecting the haggis to be stodgy, oatmeal-ly and peppery whilst it was actually quite wet and loose with a slightly heavier batter. They were quite spicy too.
Matin Khan, the owner, noticing that I hadn’t finished my Haggis Pakoras, disappeared into the kitchen and emerged with a plate of very fresh onion bhajis. These were lovely deep fried balls of sweet onion and spices. What’s not to love?!?
For mains, I ordered the Murgh Mango (a chicken tikka with mango, onion, garlic, fresh coriander, mild spices and finished with cream and almonds).
Mr TartanSpoon ordered the Methi Gosht (lamb cooked with fenugreek, fragrant herbs and spices. Medium hot).
Mr Khan kindly delivered a gorgeous beef curry to our table too. I think this was the Beef Bengal. It was superb. The beef was fall apart tender and a slight heat to it that caught at the back of mouth.
Out of our two mains I preferred the Methi Gosht and Mr TartanSpoon preferred my chicken; although these dishes are all meant for sharing and was placed centre stage in the middle of the table along with a Pashwari Naan bread and Pilau Rice.
The staff here are exceptional. They are so efficient, and so friendly. Not only did we meet Matin the owner but also Robert the General Manager. Both have decades of experience and knowledge working in Indian restaurants (Itihaas first opened in 2007 and it was a delight to converse with people who are passionate about what they do and proud of the food they serve).
As I’ve mentioned before, the menu is extensive but if you are looking for a warm, friendly traditional Indian restaurant that will look after your every need and welcome you with warm smiles time and time again, look no further than Itihaas.
Dalkeith may seem far away but it’s only 8 miles from Edinburgh City Centre, 5 miles from Musselburgh and 4.8 miles from Straiton Retail Park.
Itihaas Restaurant, 17-19 Eskbank Road, EH21 1HD. Tel :0131 663 9800 www.itihaasrestaurant.com
My Spoon Award : Silver