Dining at Dhaka Deli

Sometimes a friend gives a recommendation that is so compelling that it cannot be ignored. Particularly when that recommendation happens over Twitter and the restaurant then invite you down to try their food for yourself.

This happened to me with Dhaka Deli, one of Leicester’s fine Indian restaurants based down the Narborough Road. I must confess I had not even heard of it before – I think with so many Indian restaurants to choose from we’re all guilty of finding a couple that we like and then sticking with them and perhaps not trying new places as much as we should do.

The restaurant is beautifully presented with crisp white table clothes, clean lines and pleasant, inobtrusive music which sets an excellent scene for an enjoyable meal, without having any of the twee decoration that so many Indian restaurants in this country seem to cling to.

While we looked over the extensive menu, we munched on a poppadum with a great pickle tray. I must confess that I am not the world’s biggest pickle fan. Far from it in fact, I tend to just stick to the raita. However, excepting the lime pickle (which was a little hot for my tastes) I got to enjoy everything on the tray this time – mango, tamarind, onion and mint. Delicious!

Along with the pickle tray, the wine list must get a special mention too. The wines are all incredibly reasonably priced – nothing is over £15 a bottle. At those sort of prices in a restaurant I think we’d all agree that not too much hope would be pinned on the quality, however this is incredibly far removed from the reality of the situation. As I did not require a whole bottle of wine to myself, I tentatively ordered a glass of their house wine – a Merlot – and you cannot believe how happy I was with it!

Their house red is a Chilean merlot from Valle Central, produced by San Andres. It has a great mouth feel and enough tannin to give interest without detracting from the blackberry flavours. It is smooth to drink with no overbalance of acidity and has enough punch to stand up well to the robust spicing of the food at Dhaka Deli. An excellent choice for the price and an impressive 3.4 out of 5 average score on Vivino confirming that I’m not alone in being impressed with it.

On to the starters and in our excitment, we accidentally double tikka’d. Still, can’t complain because anything with crisp edges and that deep, pink, flavoursome marinade gets my mouth watering. The chilli garlic chicken tikka did exactly what it said on the tin with plenty of heat, but not so much that it drowned out the spicy marinade. Succulent and juicy it was cooked to perfection and the fresh salad it was served with was just right to take the punch out of the chilli and make the whole thing extremely enjoyable.

We also tried the paneer tikka shashlik, which is a similar marinaded and charred affair with plump, soft paneer, but served on a sizzling tray with onions, peppers and a sweet and spicy sauce. Although they do not make their own paneer inhouse, it was carefully handled and had not dried out even on the sizzling serving dish. I think I would be inclined to over this over the chicken in future because it was so full of flavour.

Main courses are go with a new dish for me, the Baigan Bhuna from the Chef’s Recommendation menu. You want to be listening to their chef because that dish was amazing. Tender, good sized chunks of lamb with not a speck of chewy fat, in a medium strength sauce with slow cooked aubergine. The aubergine was absolutely melt in the mouth and because it had been treated so carefully it gave out a real feeling of buttery luxuriousness in the mouth. I could probably eat this dish all day. And then have it for leftovers the next day.

We also had a go at the Chicken Karahi. Karahi curries are named for the thick pan they are cooked in and this one had a delicious thick sauce, made with lentils for extra texture, as well as peppers and onions all with a delicate but reasonably punchy level of spice. Again the chicken was perfectly cooked and plentiful. No complaints here!

For a side we paired up a Tarka Daal, our go-to dish and benchmark for good Indian food (since The Boy makes such an excellent one). Here again I can only be gushingly complimentary – beautifully smooth and rich daal, with ramped up levels of garlic and butter and just the right amount of fresh coriander chopped over the top.

We added a serving of jeera rice and a paratha to this, knowing that we would certainly not need a rice and bread each with this amount of food! We were proved correct, we still needed to get some of it boxed up at the end! They have a phenomenal selection of breads on offer, by the way – not just a wide variety of flavoured naan, but also paratha, roti and more besides. Truly something for every taste.

What better way to finish the meal than with a delicious liqueur coffee? It’s be rude not to, right? And after so much food I always think that a coffee is the only thing that I can possibly squeeze in! We went Calypso Coffee with the cream floating on the surface, rich and delicious and very indulgent. It paired nicely with the complimentary chocolates and was an excellent full stop to a very impressive meal.

I can only encourage you to pop down Narborough Road to Dhaka Deli. The prices are very reasonable for the quality and if you don’t fancy making the trip you can order online via their website (powered by Hungry Horse) or through Just Eat to save you having to leave the comfort of your sofa. I can see it falling into my regular rotation simply because I haven’t got a single point of criticism or improvement to level at the place!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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