In a week where there has been so much talk of the rise in energy costs, I was invited to Desi Cafe as a group of influencers to try their full menu and chat about Southsea, local businesses, and how we all need to carry on doing what we do, inspiring, influencing and promoting the area we live.
The news has been talking about the cost of living crisis for months and as the first week of October arrived I felt a little uneasy. Small businesses like Desi Cafe have to really think about how much it costs to keep the lights on, and how they are going to maintain customer satisfaction but also be able to thrive as a business in these strange economic times! What I love about the owner Habib of Desi Cafe is that he cares about his customers. He cares about the food they eat and will do everything to keep the positive vibes flowing in the restaurant along with the cool lassi’s that are being served up. Looking at the menu, the prices of the food in the cafe haven’t risen sharply and the premise is just as cosy and inviting as ever!
To celebrate all the goodness the cafe has to offer it was nice to switch off for the evening and just enjoy the incredible, flavoursome food we were given. Having supported the cafe since it opened I always love residing there for food that just speaks volumes, whether that be the taste, the way it is cooked, and of course the presentation in the form of the signatory copper pans.
Being a regular customer here I could talk about the entire menu but I am going to talk about the food I tried for the first time and the dishes I love. For the first time, I tried SEV PURI which are crispy balls filled with house chat loveliness and pomegranate seeds. They are just delicious and I think my go-to next time I visit!
We also tried GRILLED MALAI CHICKEN TIKKA which has tender pieces of chicken, marinated overnight in a light creamy sauce with home-ground spices. It came to our table served with Bombay bread, salad & chutney. This is my hubby’s favourite starter and it was a delight to eat.
For me, the HOUSE CHATT brings the starter drama to the table. A huge plate of loveliness with crispy vegetable samosa, on a bed of spiced chana, split into a cool sweet yoghurt. Dressed in tamarind & mint and coriander chutney. Topped off with pomegranate & spicy potato sprinkles and one of my favourite starters.
Moving on to the main dishes, I need to share that I especially love a good curry sauce where the bread can be used to mop up all those flavours and for me, this dish really brought home a decent curry sauce! CHINGRI TAWA has all the flavours and star of the evening in my eyes! A Bangladesh dish with all the flavours tossed & turned in a caramelised onion gravy, stir-fried prawns in a medley of spices & merrily mingled with lime leaf. It had a little heat but had such a rich sauce I could have eaten more!
KERALA FISH was such a pleasant surprise I didn’t expect. The fish was meaty but tender and I felt a really good option for a curry. In the twisting & enchanting backwaters of Kerala, local fishermen adored this succulently spiced fish dish. A mild melody of coconut milk, tamarind & curry leaves and definitely one to try if you haven’t already!
Being a huge Desi masala fan I really did feel this was so enticing with PANEER AUR ALOO TIKKI MASALA. It offers smooth paneer & aloo tikki cutlets in a rich silky sauce. The velvety taste of the tomatoes really captures my taste buds and although I usually go for the chicken version of this I really did love this vegetarian dish.
You can’t talk about old Indian dishes without mentioning the BIRYANI which captures the heart and always offers that good old staple of moreish flavours. We had the chicken version which was delicately cooked within its own juices & spices and layered with rice. This dish has a Pakistani influence and was served with slaw & tzatziki raita. You can’t ever go wrong with a Biryani but I do love how Desi make you feel like it is a recipe that has been passed down through generations. It is like what minestrone is to the Italians, so full of flavour and depth.
My must-haves on a Desi visit are always the GUNPOWDER POTATOES and BOMBAY BREAD. I always go for a ROSE & CARDAMOM LASSI which does a fantastic job of calming down my tastebuds ready for my next mouthful of gorgeous food. Having never tried the Mocktail Shorbots I had a STRAWBERRY DAIQUIRI which brought a cool edge to my palette. I walked home feeling so happy that we have a fab Indian restaurant in Southsea that I can enjoy without having to travel as far as London to enjoy such good quality food. If you haven’t visited yet and love Indian food then all I can say is you MUST go and the offer below gives you no excuses.
To celebrate the DESI journey so far and thank the customers of Portsmouth for the support they have given, DESI is doing a special October deal. You can get 50% off your food bill by going to their website and downloading the code. This offer is on from the 9th of October until the 23rd of October (excluding Fridays and Saturdays) and means you can go and try out the incredible dishes for yourself at a much lower price. Head to the website here to find out more details.