Sunday, 19 June 2011

An Invitation to eat at the Thieves Market or Chor Bizarre

Chor Bizarre is not your normal Indian restaurant. For starters there is no flop wallpaper, that mainstay of any old curry house, but then again we are in Mayfair. Instead there is a kaleidoscopic of interesting artifacts that make you feel you are in someones house rather than in a restaurant. Very different indeed.
We were seated at a large table for two with very grandiose chairs that made me feel like I was a Maharaja. Maybe in a former life.

Immediately some papads were placed on the table with a trio of chutneys. Sweet mango, a very sour lime pickle and a cooling mint yoghurt.
The mango was too sweet and was the least liked of the three. The sour lime pickle hit the spot and reminded me of the sour pickles I ate routinely in India last year. I’ve nearly run out of my Mothers Recipe pickles, thankfully some people form work are venturing out to India this week. My order has been placed. The mint yoghurt was very cooling and brought a bit of balance back to my taste buds.

We are not greedy people and even though we were on a comp’d meal, I still cannot over order. I hate waste, always have and hopefully always will. But this does limit me to what we can taste on the menus.
The menu as like the restaurant décor does not sit in any one region. It is a real mixture of India, serving food from Kerela to Kashmir. Ordering was going to be fun.
Well we were here to taste and we decided on a couple of starters to share to get our taste buds a moving. We opted for the Dakshni Crab (White crab meat flavoured with South Indian spices, served with salad and coconut chutney £8) and the Aloo Tikki Chaat (Pan fried patties of mashed potatoes filled with spiced lentil and green peas, served warm, topped with yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney £6.50)
Presentation of the dishes was first class. Both plates looked spectacular and clean. The portions were a tad small, but we are in Mayfair after all.

Unfortunately both dishes were very under seasoned for my Western palette. It seems to be the way my taste buds are these days. At Leiths we were told to season, season and season again. It’s amazing how much salt we were putting into dishes there. Maybe I need to retrain my palette.
The cooking of the two starters was faultless, texture wise they were spot on, but we really couldn’t get any flavour off the crab or from the patties.

The coconut chutney was really good though. Nice texture and taste, I could have eaten a lot of that. Again with the tamarind and mint chutney it was the star that outshone the patties.
For the mains we ordered a Seekh Kabab (fine lamb mince kababs £15), Paanch Mirch Ka Paneer (Juicy chunks of cottage cheese cooked flavoured with five mirchis (peppers), black pepper, white pepper, bell peppers, green & red chilies £10), a Dal Makhani (thick black lentils, simmered overnight in the tandoor oven £6.50) and a couple of Reshmi Parantha £3 each.
The mains were a vast improvement on the starters. All were spiced to perfection. As the wife has totally gone off real heat these days, we are eating a lot more milder food. So what we had suited her down to the bone.

The kebabs were tender, well spiced and juicy, they came with an onion salad and went down a treat. I wish we had ordered more of them, maybe another 3 plates. They would have not gone to waste. I’m eating a lot of Turkish kebabs recently and these were subtly and delicately spiced. They were a delight to eat.

There was not enough of the paneer for my liking. Too many peppers, which some of the bell peppers still being a tad raw. The sauce was nice and comforting and made for good mopping up with the paranthas.
I always judge a restaurant by its dals, and based on the dal makhani here it deserves a big slap on the back, a hug and many blessings. They were as dal makhani should be, thick, creamy, rich and slightly smokey. I now understand why Punjabi men are so portly. It’s because they eat this dish on a daily basis. Awesome.

Amazingly after all that dal we managed to tuck into a pudding, which I do not normally do, but after last year and eating many retro puds I could not resist. I had to have the rice pudding flavoured with mango and cardamom.
This was a perfect ending to a good night. The pudding was cold, just how I like them. For some reason as a child I never ate hot sauces on puddings. My custard had to be cold when poured onto my hot sponge pudding. My rice pudding had to be left in the fridge until it was cold before I would touch it. I was a little awkward back then.

Thankfully it was not fridge cold so the flavours were able to seep through onto my taste buds. The rice was still a tad al dente, which reassured me it was not out of a tin. The mango and cardamom oozed through to give it a rich exotic flavour. Brill. I wish I had asked the chef for the recipe, as it brought back memories of my childhood. A real blast form the past.
Overall Chor Bizarre is a tad expensive for an Indian restaurant, but it does fit the area and clientele it gets. We arrived at 8, and left at nearly 11 and it was full constantly. A testament to the cooking and their dal makhani.

They are currently offering from between 30% to 50% off the food menu at certain times in June.
It is a truly different experience and maybe one you all should try. Order the dal makhani you will not be disappointed.
Chor Bizarre on Urbanspoon


Lulabellarama said...

Hi, really enjoying your blog. I've tried eating at many of the more upmarket Indian restaurants, Benares and Indian Zing being great examples of it done well. However if you get the chance, venture out West to Southall. There are a couple of restaurants there which dick on their expensive counterparts. Madhu's and Brilliant, being the very best, in my opinion. Authentic and relatively cheap.

Mzungu said...

Lulabella - I've heard a lot about Brilliant from the people I work with. It's a shame I live in completely the opposite direction. But going to have to head that way one day.