*Please note that this was written before I turned vegan*
There aren’t many problems in life that you can’t solve with an Indian curry. I remember when I was growing up, the total highlight of mine and my brother’s week was when we were taken to our local curry house on a Saturday night, after watching football all day, where we would gorge ourselves on Indian food until we felt like we might pop(padom). Ha, sorry – Guess my love of my father’s ‘dad jokes’ stayed with me as I grew older too (Love ya, dad)!
There’s something super comforting about walking into a curry house, no matter where you are. The staff are always super friendly, you’re welcomed in with authentic Indian music, the scent of spices wafts through the restaurant and you can’t help but feel like you’re right at home. Well, the KT in Kennington is no different, except it feels like your home has had a deluxe makeover… The restaurant is clean, fresh and modern whilst remaining cosy at the same time. You can tell that the owners have taken a lot of pride in the decor and they’ve clearly built up a loyal follower base (for good reason) as the venue was packed the whole time we were there! I also loved that the owner came out to talk to me about her restaurant and it was clear that she’s super passionate about the food she serves and the atmosphere she creates. One of the things I also love about this restaurant is the ambience created by dim lighting, although as all food photographers know, this comes at a price. So, in case you’re wondering, this is the reason my photos are a little darker than normal!
Obvs we kicked things off with poppadoms. I’ve never met a poppadom I didn’t like and KT’s was no exception. Chris and I gobbled them up and I made a conscious effort to branch out from my usual mango chutney vibe and try every sauce (mango chutney, onion, cucumber & carrot salad, homemade mint raita sauce, and Rajasthani mixed pickle). I felt very brave when I realised that I loved all of them and that the pickle wasn’t as hot as I’d built it up to be in my head! Even though I love Indian food, I don’t have the world’s most impressive spice tolerance so this was a big deal for me!
For our second round of starters (yep, you read that right), we were presented with the most divine vegetarian platter. I always get sliiiiightly nervous when I see a plate full of deep fried goods, because I’m always concerned that they’ll be greasy. This platter wasn’t having any of that. The snacks were light, fresh and packed with flavour.
We munched away on Seasoned Vegetable Tempura, Handmade Vegetable Samosas and Spinach & Fenugreek Pakoras. I wasn’t too familiar with the latter but I was informed that it’s a deep-fried combination of Fenugreek leaves, Palak (spinach) and fresh green garlic with gram flour & spices. It was so light and crumbly and just not what I was expecting at all! Make sure you dip it in the sauce for maximum enjoyment!
The starter platter was served with a beautifully spicy yet sweet tamarind sauce that was to DIE for. It was so good I had to ask the chef what was in it! For those wondering: Capsicum, Carrot, Mango Chutney, Chilli, Mint Sauce, Fresh Mint, Lime Juice & Coriander. My favourite starter was the Pakora because the pastry had a sweetness to it that contrasted perfectly with the vegetables inside. Every single one of the starter snacks was tasty and they were devoured pretty quickly… In the name of research, of course… I should also mention that the chef brought us a lime and coconut dip that he’s in the middle of testing right now. Make sure you request it if you can – It had a beautifully sweet flavour to it which complimented the savoury starters perfectly!
Next, our ridiculously large train of main courses made their way to our table. We were in total paradise. It was like the ‘Be Our Guest’ scene from Beauty and the Beast. Food as far as the eye could see! We kicked things off with the Bhindi Bhajee. Now, I have a bit of a funny relationship with okra. I want to adore it but it just isn’t my favourite thing in the world. Having said that, Chris, who does like it, enjoyed this super fresh dish of crisp, finely diced okra, stir-fried with herbs and spices.
Aubergine, again, isn’t the love of my life (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m the worst vegetarian ever), but this was stir-fried with onion and wok grilled and the flavours were quite subtle which I liked.
Chris told me that I wasn’t allowed to describe this dish as anything other than ‘mentally lentilly’ which to be honest, is absolute genius. This dish was (as you may have guessed) packed with KT’s own blend of four types of lentils as well as onion and garlic. It was quite creamy, like a korma, but with an earthy flavour – Delicious.
“A Jalfrezi”, you say? Ha! I’ve had lime pickle now. I LAUGH in the face of spice!
At least, so I thought. WOW, this dish was hot but for every ounce of heat it packed, it was matched by a burst of incredible flavours. The mix of onions, green peppers and fresh green chillies in a beautiful rich sauce was unbelievable. However, you do need to be a bit braver than I am (not difficult) to finish the lot!
The paneer masala was 100% my favourite dish of the night. I was already a big paneer fan before I arrived at this restaurant and this only increased my love for the stuff! Paneer, for those who have never tried it, is a type of cheese common in South Asia. I would say that the texture, when cooked correctly, is a mixture of tofu and traditional cheese. It’s silky but just tough enough to cut through whilst holding onto the flavour. The spice-grilled paneer was surrounded by a rich, mildly spiced masala sauce as well as peppers and tomatoes. It’s basically the veggie alternative to a chicken tikka masala, and might I add, MUCH better in my opinion because it doesn’t leave you feeling as full but you don’t miss out on the taste or texture. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this dish, from the intense tomato flavour to the mixture of authentic Indian spices to the creaminess that held the flavour so well. My only word of warning is that if you’re not big on rich foods, make sure you just have a little taste as it may be too much. For me personally, it was ideal.
Wait. Another masala? Well, if you’ve been following me for a little while, or to be honest, just for one post, it’ll come as no surprise to you that Chris and I have no problem putting away food and whilst the other dishes were selected for us, we chose to add this one because we both love chickpeas. In no way, shape or form did we need more food but I’m glad we tried this as it was tasty! It was a little more delicate and subtle than the paneer masala, and much less creamy, but didn’t lose any of the flavour. Good for those people who don’t like the richness of the paneer masala so much. Side note: KT uses its own freshly ground spices for this dish. Nice touch.
Carbs, carbs, carbs. I just can’t say no. Rice, cooked in bread and served to us alongside a basket of naan. That’s the kind of thing dreams are made of. This is a traditional method of preparing basmati rice aromatic spices and vegetables, cooked to perfection under a sealed pastry crust which they remove once it’s placed on the table. It’s served Bengali-style and they recommend you use the lentil sauce to really bring the dish to life. Really lovely flavours and adorable presentation.
This dish is on the menu but it’s disguised as something else! If you want to order it, look for the Pukht Biryani and ask for it to come with veggies and no meat.
As per always, Chris and I got to the end of the meal and thought that there was a very real possibility that we might physically explode, which is generally frowned upon in restaurants. Did it stop us ordering dessert? No, it did not. For the final push, we ordered the Royal Mango Kulfi (mango ice cream with an Indian twist) and the Chocolate Mousse. Both tasty, but for me, the lightness of the Kulfi won this round. Plus, it tasted like a light sticky toffee pudding. Perfection!
Overall, I thought this restaurant was fab. I had never been to Kennington before but I would certainly venture down there again for this restaurant. It was contemporary and had a nice vibe without feeling too busy or packed in. Everyone who was there was clearly there to eat good food, drink decent wine and relax, which is the kind of restaurant atmosphere I feel most at home in.
I learnt that the restaurant is popular with politicians and celebrities and I can see why! The owners and staff were chilled and friendly and full of passion. The restaurant itself was established 35 years ago, and whilst they’ve kept it simple with classic delicacies and traditionally authentic dishes, there’s also a modern twist which helps this place stand out from the rest. There’s also something lovely about a family-run restaurant in the middle of a big city – It means no compromise on taste and service and you can taste the spirit of regional Indian cooking through the intensely vibrant flavours. Finally, if you’re ever worried about eating out because you don’t think there will be as many veggie options, fear no more! We feasted on every dish we could possibly fit in our stomachs at that time and we didn’t even get through half of them. I’m well and truly spiced out for the week!