Stacey Black visits a Bristol gem to satisfy her curry obsession
Is there anything better than a good curry? I think not. I grew up in a small town where dozens of Indian restaurants line the seafront, and as a result, quality is really high. I’m pretty spoilt in this regard, and my tolerance for a decent curry is similarly high. After a wonderful trip to sister restaurant Urban Tandoor recently, I was excited to try out the fine dining experience that Urban Kohinoor offers.
At the very top of Whiteladies Road, you’ll find Urban Kohinoor. The brightly-painted exterior certainly catches the eye, as does the large sign outside that proclaims “Keep Calm and Curry On”. After several award wins and nominations, as well as an immensely successful flagship restaurant, owners Sujith D’almeida and Dhanasekaran Durai have worked hard over the past year to create a place that is just as popular. A friend told me it was the best curry she’d ever eaten, so I had to visit.
Inside, the cool mood lighting and mirrored walls give a sophisticated feel and the aromas from the kitchen were pretty enticing. Taking a seat in the main section of the dining room, we were treated to a view of the whole space. The team here are very welcoming and work hard to make sure that all guests receive top-notch hospitality. After asking about food intolerances and special diets, I was handed a plant-based menu while my friend looked over the regular menu. The menu here is very extensive, and the team really pride themselves on the diverse range of dishes that they provide. A mix of traditional Indian fare and exciting specials make this an interesting read, and the idea is that there is something for everyone.
After devouring a tray of poppodoms served with chopped salad, spicy vegetable pickle, yoghurt and a delicious beetroot mango chutney, we were ready to dive straight into the main event. Wanting to leave room for what was sure to be a gut-busting main course, I decided against a starter, but my partner chose the soft-shell crab. A whole crab coated in spicy batter and deep-fried arrived at our table, and he was advised to eat it quick “before it ran away”. Served alongside a rainbow chopped salad, and with a smear of avocado and beetroot and a pot of spiced yoghurt, this was a serious starter. Despite a bad attack of hayfever, my partner was still able to enjoy the complex mix of flavours and textures. The texture of the creamy flesh after the enjoyable crunch of the crispy batter was satisfying, and the fresh-cut salad gave a lightness to the dish.
I chose the vegetable dhansak as my main course with a bindi bhaji on the side. It’s a good job we decided to share a portion of garlic and mushroom rice, because this was a feast. The dhansak was the kind of curry I crave; a thick stew of lentils that is creamy, slightly sweet and has a lovely chilli/citrus kick. The tandoori roti I had also ordered came in handy when it was time to scoop up the remnants. The bindi bhaji was a good accompaniment as it provided a fresh foil to the substantial dhansak. Chunks of okra cooked with tangy onion and ginger were nestled in a truly delicious tomato masala sauce. This was my favourite dish of the evening, and I was more than happy to take the leftovers home with me.
Being a big seafood fan, my friend opted for the tiger prawn and salmon moilee. Tandoori spiced salmon and tiger prawns are cooked in coconut, onion, tomato, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Make no mistake, this dish is a beast. Two enormous fillets of salmon sat high in a prawn-rich pool of thick, tangy sauce, propped up on a bed of hidden masala potatoes. My partner was almost beaten by the sheer size of this dish. He was impressed by the tenderness of the perfectly cooked salmon and the juicy prawns, and the addition of the spiced potatoes at the bottom of the vibrant curry pleased him no end. Using his garlic naan to mop up the sauce, he sadly admitted defeat and decided to take the rest home for lunch the next day.
There was absolutely no room for dessert this time, and we even struggled to find the space to finish our beers. The menu is as delicious as it is diverse, the portions are considerable and the prices are reasonable. With a number of serious contenders in the city, I really thought I’d already found my favourite Indian restaurant, but I can honestly say Urban Kohinoor has taken the top spot in my heart and my stomach.