In all honesty, I don’t cope well with spicy food, so aside from the occasional poorly-executed take-away I haven’t had much experience of Indian cuisine.
However, earlier in the week I was invited by East Village PR, along with thirty-four other bloggers, to try the new menu at Itihaas, a prominent Indian restaurant in Birmingham, and I was intrigued.
We were immediately greeted with champagne and a warm welcome, being given the opportunity to mingle and take in the beautiful decor in the Maharaja Suite on the ground floor of the restaurant, during which we sampled an enormous amount of canapes and cocktails. There were Spiced Paprika Tempura Cod with a tomato relish, Deconstructed Mini Potato Cakes with curried chickpeas, yoghurt and mint tamarind chutneys, Smoked Salmon and Goats Cheese in a filo pastry, Chicken Tikka in a Naan Wrap with spicy mayonnaise and green salad, Pastry with Gram Sev, onions, boiled potato and pomegranate and Spiced Lamb Meatballs with mint, coriander and toasted sesame seeds.
Each was different to anything I had tasted before, and I was surprised at how well all the combinations matched beautifully. I loved the spices. I particularly loved the Tempura Cod, which was melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous. So much so, in fact, that one of the waitresses kept bringing me samples every time a fresh batch was released from the kitchen. Yum. These were paired with cocktails that complimented the ingredients, all created using Torunska Vodka, and I felt it was my duty to try as many as possible. I particularly enjoyed the Mango and Cardamom version, with the sweet off-setting the spice. We got the chance to meet Raj, the Executive Chef – it was immediately obvious of just how passionate he is about the menu, and this was evident in every single bite of the food.
We were then invited to sit down and try some main courses of Lobster Panchporan, Nalli Ghost (lamb off the bone), Scallop and Prawn Masala, Roasted Salmon in a Banana Leaf, Butter Chicken on the bone, Vegetable Pakistani Pulao, Garlic and Coriander Naan and Pomegranate Raita.
It was a show-stopping display, and just like the canapes, each were beautifully spiced and flavoured in a way that I had never tried before… and each was genuinely delicious, with the lobster taking centre-stage. The food was cooked to perfection, and the sauces were stunning. My favourite was the Prawn and Scallop Masala, which was complimented perfectly with the soft, fluffy rice. I absolutely loved the naan bread too, as did everyone else.
And then, the desserts. By this point I had eaten so much that I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough room to try any more, but they looked so delicious when they were placed on the table that I found that I had no trouble trying all of them!
We had Chai Masala Mousse (milk mousse flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg), Apple and Cinnamon Samosa, Pomegranate and Pistachio Rasmalai (creamed sponge pudding) and Sambuca flamed Gulab Jamun (milk dumplings in rose water sugar syrup and flambeed with sambuca).
I loved the flavours, although I wasn’t keen on the texture of the Rasmalai, but my favourite was the Gulab Jamun – the sweet and syrupy dumpling was the perfect way to finish a truly stunning meal.
What an amazing experience! I had so many misconceptions of Indian cuisine before my visit, and I got the opportunity to learn and enjoy so much about authentic Indian food that I have added this to the top of the list of places that I will visit regularly in the city, and I’ll take The Bloke and my friends with me! I also loved the fact that we were given the chance to meet and greet (and, in many cases, catch up with) so many other bloggers in the city, and I met some lovely new people!
Want to find out more? You can find Itihaas by clicking on the link here, and you can also find them on Twitter @itihaasindian
Disclaimer: all food and drink was complimentary, but I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.