21 May 2015

Angeethi Restaurant's New Menu and Wine Pairing Night

I don’t often get across to Gateshead to eat but found myself there to sample the new menu at Angeethi, a popular Indian restaurant which surprised me initially with the vast dining space and very tasteful decor. We’d been invited to taste new dishes which had been paired with wine provided by HB Clark, definitely the complete dining experience! I’d never had Indian food paired with wine before so I couldn’t wait to see which wine complimented particular flavours traditionally used in Indian cuisine. Our sommelier for the evening, David Robertson was there to expertly guide us through the wine pairings.

David Robertson and Priya Mishra
We were really spoilt for choice with the food; the menu for the evening involved four starters and three main courses, as well as dessert.  We were treated to Chicken Chaat (one of my favourite Indian street foods) which was paired with Round Hill White Zinfadel, which really brought out the tangy/salty spices perfectly. Those looking for a vegetarian option were blessed with the Hara Bhara Kabab – perfectly formed patties made from an inspired combination of spinach, paneer and mixed vegetables. They weren’t massively different in taste and texture from a meat kebab, they were that flavoursome. Siegel Riesling was chosen to accompany the dish, the citrus notes were well matched with the vegetables.

Even though I’d been mainly eating a vegetarian diet recently, I couldn’t resist trying the Garlic Lamb Chops, which had been barbequed on live charcoal and marinated Hyderabad style (this involves coconut and tamarind as signature flavours, and an emphasis on slow cooking). The Nostros Reserva Pinot Noir chosen to go with the lamb is a favourite of wine expert Oz Clarke, its gammy flavours offsetting the charcoal. I think my favourite starter was Zaffrani Salmon – cubes of fresh Scottish salmon grilled and marinated with saffron and mild spices. It really was melt in the mouth and the saffron sauce was delicious, the flavours accentuated by the gooseberries in the Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc served with it. 

I wondered what Angeethi meant, and Priya Mishra, the passionate and enigmatic owner told me that it’s the traditional clay stove that’s been used in India for centuries. I couldn’t help but enthuse over the food with the girls from OPR agency sitting opposite me, everyone was so impressed by the starters. Luckily it wasn’t long before the main courses came out. Chicken Tikka Makhni involved perfectly cooked tikka pieces in Punjabi style buttery tomato sauce garnished with a swirl of cream – heaven! Its partner – a red Casa Silva Cabernet Carmenere had hints of tobacco and blackberries and brought out all of the sweetness and creaminess of the butter chicken. I’m a massive fan of fish curries and loved the Fish Madras – Scottish salmon in a hot sauce tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds. Even though I was initially worried about the heat, the sauce wasn’t too fiery - the coconut milk meant that it was more on the medium spicy side. It was great to rediscover how amazing Indian spiced lamb is; the final dish was Lamb Kadhai – lamb and mixed peppers in a mind-blowing sauce made with Kadhai Masala, a powder made with cardamom and coriander as well as other mixed spices. A great Rioja, El Coto Crianza brought out the aromatic flavours of the dish.
We didn’t think we had enough room for our pudding, but luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it) we only had one to try. We were treated to a traditional Indian dessert – Gulab Jamun, served with vanilla ice cream.  It’s made from milk solids, deep fried and soaked in a sugar syrup flavoured with green cardamom and rose water.  It was divine - not too filling and great with a glass of full bodied Chardonnay.    

The menu really showed off the kitchen’s expertise in traditional regional Indian cooking and offered a wide variety of dishes and flavours. The service was excellent, the staff were really knowledgeable and I loved the tasteful and relaxing surroundings. I was pleased to learn that they also do cookery classes where you can learn about Indian spices and cook a traditional meal – sign me up! I couldn’t believe that this was Priya’s first restaurant venture – her passion and excellent customer service was evident from the start of the event.

A fantastic evening in one of the best Indian restaurants in town!                                              

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