One of my favourite cuisines is Indian food. Whenever I go for a meal with friends it's always to our local Indian restaurant, whenever my partner and I order takeaway it's more often than not Indian and I love cooking an array of Indian dishes at home, experimenting with flavours and spices. I'm a big fan of flavourful food, I love everything from fruity and mild dishes to the more spicier and vamped up curries that'll leave me feeling flustered. When I was kindly invited for an intimate private dining experience at Chutney Ivy Restaurant & Bar, situated in Leicester City Centre, I couldn't resist the chance to try a local restaurant, hopefully finding a few new favourite dishes along the way.
It's not very often I head to Leicester but with the lure of good food, I was more than ready for a night of treating my taste buds. Over the past year I've had the chance to sample a few popular locations in Leicester City Centre, but with each being well known food franchises, it was a nice change to have the chance to try an independent restaurant that had been passionately built from the ground up.
The evening started with an introduction to Chutney Ivy and how it all began back in 2010, now into it's 6th year as a popular dining destination. It was lovely to learn how the menu was created, with each dish not only representing traditional Indian food perfectly, but with recipes, flavours and ingredients that add a unique twist to classic dishes that stand out from other Indian restaurants as well as becoming signature dishes for Chutney Ivy. It's clear that Chutney Ivy was created by a passionate team who not only love their food but who also want to represent the beautiful culture and history behind many favourite Indian dishes, whilst taking the opportunity to create completely unique dishes that have since become signature dishes and some of the most popular choices for Chutney Ivy diners.
The location is perfect, situated right in the heart of Leicester and within a minutes walk of convenient parking, Chutney Ivy is a modern and contemporary venue that would suit any occasion; dinner with your partner or friends, a family occasion, even perfect for celebrating birthdays, engagements and weddings. Not only does the dining room seat up to 120 people, there's also a spacious basement lounge bar hidden away which can be hired for everything from private dining to entertainment space, with a capacity of up to 120.
More than just a restaurant, Chutney Ivy has a lot to offer. There's private dining with the option of buffets, table served banquets and deluxe gourmet banqueting. There's the option to hire the venue for private parties, business seminars and presentations and wedding celebrations, and most notably, for charity functions. If you're a regular reader of Tattooed Tealady you will know I have a lot of respect for brands and businesses which do something to give back to those who most need it, and over the years Chutney Ivy has helped raised in excess of £50,000 towards various charities and organisations including The Valerie Taylor Trust, Motor Neurone Disease Association, LOROS, Spark Children's Arts, CLASP and Unicef to name just a few.
The next charity fundraising event is taking place on Thursday 10th March 2016, with just 20 tickets remaining - the evening will be in aid of Crimestoppers UK in association with Pukaar News. Tickets for the evening cost just £20 and the evening includes entertainment as well as an exciting prize draw. You can find out more by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The evening itself was incredibly relaxed and laid back, dining with a handful of local bloggers, local food critics and journalists and the general manager of Chutney Ivy, who was a delightful host whose passion for not only Chutney Ivy but food and Indian culture itself was clear to see. It was a lovely experience to learn how the menu came to be, what inspired each dish and most notably, the inspiration behind some of the most unique Indian dishes you will come across which you will only find at Chutney Ivy. Add to that the local produce used to create each dish Chutney Ivy have to offer, and I was more than looking forward to getting stuck in.
Of course, anyone who has been to an Indian restaurant will know that your evening always starts off with Poppadoms and a variety of chutneys. I am a sucker for chutneys and yoghurt dips, so I was eager to tuck in. This was followed by an incredible array of starter dishes, which I was more than eager to sample after seeing the menu.
A unique Chutney Ivy dish featured within the starter menu are the Crispy Duck Samosas; crispy savoury pastries which have been stuffed with lightly spiced shredded roast duck, finished off with a tamarind and cucumber relish with leafy greens. A delicious twist on a classic Indian starter, these were scrumptious and perfectly cooked. The Mixed Vegetable Pakora was another favourite of mine, teaming crispy nuggets of baby spinach with sliced onions and potatoes, finished with a seasoned batter and deep fried. A dish I was surprised to find I really enjoyed was Maachi Amritsari; white fillets of fish which had been lightly spiced, coated with ajwain and gram flour batter and deep fried - I've never tried a dish like this before and was pleasantly surprised. Another tasty morsel I was very happy to tuck into was the delicious Aloo Palaak ki Tikki, soft Indian potato cakes spiced with mustard seeds, curry leaves and tempered peethi of methi, served with tasty sauteed spinach, tamarind, mint yoghurt and spicy sweet onion. Of course chicken is always a great dish to start with when sampling Indian food and the Chandi Malai Tikka didn't disappoint; tender chicken which had been marinated overnight in cream cheese, dill, corriander and mace.
My favourite starter of the night? Jingha Rowshne. Humongous king prawns, easily the biggest I have ever seen, marinated in olive oil, garlic butter and chillies before being gently cooked in cream, spring onions and fresh coriander. Never before have I tasted such delicious king prawns, cooked to absolute perfection so that they almost melted in the mouth. I could have eaten a plate full of these to myself, a phenomenal starter and one I would recommend to anyone visiting Chutney Ivy.
The starters were an incredibly tasty way to start the meal, but they were just the start of what was an evening of incredible cooking, creative flavours and beautiful seasoning. With the mains we were able to sample another delicious array of meals from the menu and each one was delectable.
Sea Bass Bangla Massala was a mouth-watering dish using whole sea bass fillets which have been gently infused with a blend of caramelised onions, tomatoes, fresh garlic, turmeric and lemon juice before being garnished with spring onions and fresh coriander. I'm a big fan of sea bass but had never experienced it in this way; it's definitely left me wanting to try more experimental flavours when going for sea bass in the future, absolutely delicious! Another fish dish was the perfectly cooked Salmon Tikka Massala, again a way I had never tried salmon before but a dish which certainly left me savouring every last bite. Scottish pink salmon infused with roasted spices and dill, seared and then gently simmered with a beautiful sauce of creamed coconut, mustard and curry leaves.
Chicken dishes included Kandari Muragh Merch; chicken juliennes partnered with a thick spicy sauce, spring onions, coriander and fresh chillies, and Muragh Tikka Makhni; chicken tikka which had been braised in a smooth buttery gravy before being finished with a rich and fragrance sauce of cardamom, kasoori methi and fresh cream. Both were perfectly succulent dishes and would be great for anyone who prefers their chicken dishes.
We were treated to two vegetarian dishes which were just as scrumptious as the meaty dishes on the menu. The Makhni Daal was a lovely dish of black lentils which had been cooked overnight on a slow fire in the tandoor, teamed with ginger, garlic, fresh tomato puree and a touch of fresh cream - particularly lovely with the Traditional Naan and Paratha. A dish I had never tried before, the Pumpkin Bhuna was my first try of pumpkin and was absolutely delightful; cooked in a dry sauce with a special blend of roasted mustard seeds, jeera and coriander seeds.
Lamb is always my favourite meat when it comes to Indian food and the lamb dishes were by far my favourite; each left my mouth watering and I was more than ready to sneak more of them home given the chance! The Taweli Lamb Tak-e-Tak was a scrumptious dish of tender pieces of lamb with onions, green peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs. The best dish of the night for me was without a shadow of a doubt, the Babhorchi Lamb Shank Nihari. There are no words I could use that would do this dish justice, it was quite possibly the most delicious lamb shank I have ever tasted, melt in the mouth deliciousness that was the star dish of the entire night for me. Slow roasted lamb shank cooked to the Head Chef's own recipe; this dish alone is why I will be making sure I get back to Chutney Ivy asap!
To finish off the evening we were treated to a light and tasty dessert and a selection of hot drinks - I opted for a hot chocolate, a sweet way to end a lovely evening. After several hours of eating, talking and more eating, it's safe to say Chutney Ivy left me impressed, extremely satisfied and already planning my return visit. I have spent the past 24 hours absolutely raving about my experience to my partner, so we are already planning a date night there in the next couple of months, if only so I can devour the lamb shank again!
The venue, hospitality and extremely high quality of food was very impressive and I know I'll be dreaming of those delicious dishes until my next visit. If you're local to Leicester or even passing by, then I really recommend getting yourself booked in at Chutney Ivy, an Indian dining experience not to be missed.
*I was kindly invited along as a guest to Chutney Ivy
for a complimentary evening - Disclaimer.