Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sitaaray - An Invite to an Indian Buffet

Not only were we lucky enough to be invited to Chor Bizarre, but we were also invited to eat at Sitaaray in Covent Garden. Double luck.
The two restaurants in this Indian based group couldn’t be more different. Chor Bizaare is your more typical Indian style restaurant, but aimed at a client with a big bulgy wallet. Whilst Sitaaray is aimed at your group of friends on a good night out with a definite slimmer budget. As the all you can eat buffet is only £18 per person (up to the end of August, where it will rise to around £23).

The inside of the restaurant is a shrine to Bollywood and its stars. The walls are lined with photos of the more famous actors and actresses over the years. Quite a few of them have visited the restaurant and have their photo plastered on a special section by the stairs.
The formula is quite straightforward. You pay your money and choose either the veg or non-veg menu, and then you are get given a hell of a lot of food, which if you can manage more of any of the dishes you can ask for them. It really is all-you-can-eat, but the quality is so much more than any other similar place I can think of.

We opted not to go for the Bollywood named cocktails that takes up a hell of a lot of the drinks menu. It may have been fun actually, but I’m still old skool and Indian food for me only goes with beer. The wife had a few glasses of merlot that she says worked quite well with the food.
For starters we had some crushed papad and a trio of chutneys. I got so used to sour pickles in India that I relish them when they arrive, but this now means I find all mango chutneys so sweet. Too sweet in fact that I cannot eat them. They used to be my favourite, but give me a sour lime pickle anytime.

Then the food started, oh how I wished it would stop at one point. The menu reads as follows.
Dahi Batata Puri, crispy savory balls stuffed with potato, yoghurt and chutneys.
Pepper Shikampuri, pan fried ground lamb kebab stuffed with mint and peppers.
Pudina, char grilled fish tikkas in a paste of mint and green chilies.
Amritsari, crispy batter fried fish flavoured with carom seeds.
Chicken Dill Tikka, creamy chicken morsels flavored with garlic and dill leaves.  
Chicken Achaari, char grilled chicken flavored with pickling spices.
Lamb Seekh, juicy lamb mince kebab topped with red onions and coriander cooked in a tandoor oven.
Lamb Keema Samosa, deep fried savoury patties stuffed with a spicy lamb mixture.
Chicken Chakundari, char grilled chicken legs in a spicy red marinade with beetroot.
Chicken Tikka Masala, grilled chicken cooked in rich & creamy tomato gravy flavored with fenugreek
Vegetable Nilgiri Kurma, seasonal vegetables cooked along with coriander, mint in a coconut based gravy

Dal Makhni, buttery black lentils simmered for an age, finished with tomatoes, ginger and cream.
Plus all this was served with an assortment of breads and a bowl of pulao rice. We couldn’t finish it all. I now wished I’d asked for it to be put into a plastic tub to take home with me for lunch the next day.
Most of the food was damn good, but one or two dishes were not very good at all. The Amritsari was too greasy and was not nice on the palette at all.

Whereas the small puri ball was one of the highlights of the meal, along with the spicy lamb samosa. For me it was the Dal makhni, ooh those black creamy, heart clogging lentils were a real joy to eat. Damn they were good.

We couldn’t manage any pudding. I think it would have resembled that scene from Alien. Not a pretty sight.

So if you are up for somewhere different to go on a works night out, or with friends then I would definitely recommend Sitaaray as a place to go.

Sitaaray on Urbanspoon

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