As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am an East End girl. When we arrived here in 2000, we stayed with a friend in Mudchute for a few weeks, fell in love with the east and soon rented a house in deepest E16. Nine years later, we bought a house… about 200m as the crow flies from our old rented house and still firmly in E16. And I think it is fair to assume that I will stay on this end of London for as long as I live here. Sure, we may not have the chi chi department stores and leafy squares of the west, but we do have excellent restaurants, and particularly curry restaurants. For this reason, it takes a lot to coax me over to west London for, of all things, a curry. But then it’s not every day that I am invited to review an Indian restaurant headed up by a female chef – and PURE Indian Cooking is one such restaurant.
PURE is very conveniently situated if you live out Putney/Fulham way, situated a stone’s throw from Putney Bridge station. The restaurant is owned by husband and wife team Faheem Vanoo and Shilpa Dandekar, both of whom started their careers with the Taj hotel group in India. Both Faheem and Shilpa honed their skills at high-end London Indian restaurants including the Bombay Brasserie and Quilon, while Shilpa was one of the opening team for the very first Brasserie Blanc and later its Head Chef under the guidance of Michelin-starred owner Raymond Blanc OBE. After starting their business serving only Indian takeaways, at the end of 2015 they opened PURE, with Faheem managing front of house and Shilpa heading a team of chefs in the kitchen. Led by her love of excellent ingredients and refined, flavoursome dishes she aims to serve traditional Indian food that has been given her own unique spin.
I started with a cocktail – a fiery mango-chilli margarita (£7.00) which struck a good balance between sweet and spicy but is definitely not for the chilliphobe! Together with this we had a pre-starter of papad, crudites and chutneys (£1.50) – fresh mini poppadoms served with spicy vegetable crudites and excellent homemade chutneys.
For starters we shared the Malai grilled lamb chops (£11,00) which had been marinated in a creamy, mildly spiced sauce before being grilled to pink perfection and finished with black pepper. These were everything lamb should be – tender and packed with flavour. Our other starter was the tandoori chutney paneer (£7,00) – slabs of grilled paneer topped with flavourful roasted peppers and a spicy chutney – a perfect vegetarian starter.
Sadly the coconut venison curry that I wanted was not available on the night I visited and so lamb dominated the table for the main course. The first dish was the khade masale ka gosht (£12.00) – slow cooked lamb on the bone with whole spices. This was marvellous – richly flavoured yet not overpowering sauce and lamb that fell off the bone at the touch of a fork. The other lamb dish was the lamb sukke Maharastrian style lamb cooked in dry spices (£12.00) – the dishes looked not dissimilar, but the flavouring and spices were strikingly distinctive and both were subtle and elegant dishes with incredibly tender meat, As accompaniments we had fresh, hot Peshwari naan (£2.50) and a bowl of excellent dal makhani, traditionally prepared lentils that are cooked overnight with mild spices to a rich and creamy consistency. This was a particularly good example and definitely something I’d happily eat as a vegetarian main course.
The desserts, unusually for most Indian restaurants in London, are made in-house – so we made sure we tried them! I had the chocolate rasmalai sandwich with pistachio ice-cream (£5.00) Rasmalai are a kind of Bengali dessert consisting of curd cheese balls soaked in cream and cooked in a sugar syrup with cardamom. Here the flavours and textures are enriched with chocolate and served in a square of what looks almost like opera cake – decadent, rich and very satisfying. The pistachio ice-cream, also home-made, was excellent with not a hint of almond essence. For those in the market for something less chocolatey, there is also a mango coconut panacotta on the menu as well as saffron baked yoghurt; or a choice of homemade ice-creams. After the meal, I also had an interesting chat to the knowledgeable and charming chef Shilpa about her cooking and how she marries British ingredients and influences with Indian cuisine.
Fulham is a long way from home for me to travel for dinner on a weeknight… and it is not as if London has a shortage of Indian restaurants. But my trip to Pure was worth the journey. So often our impression of cuisine from the Indian subcontinent in this country is shaped by late-night trips to Brick lane curry houses where I swear sometimes there is a central dispensing point for tikka masala/jalfrezi/vindaloo sauce that each restaurant simply pumps over a plate of cooked chicken via a complicated system of pipework directly into the kitchen, so generic is the food across some restaurants. But at Pure, each dish had such distinct and subtle flavours and had obviously been crafted with care and attention, with regard to a balance of spices and flavour. Each dish was a delight and it is safe to say that there was nothing we ate that I would not gladly order again and I will be back for the venison! Staff were completely charming all night long and a glass of prosecco that was less than optimally bubbly was replaced for free with a smile. Those readers living in West London should rejoice at Pure’s proximity.
Nearest station: Putney Bridge
Approx. cost per head: Approx. £45 per head for starters, mains, a side and a shared bottle of wine
Pure Indian cooking
67 Fulham High Street
SW6 3 JJ
Tel: 020 7736 2521
E-mail: [email protected]
DISCLOSURE: I enjoyed this meal as a guest of Pure but received no further remuneration to write this post. I was not expected to write a positive review – all views are my own and I retain full editorial control.
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