Outside the Indian subcontinent, the best and the yummiest of Indian food comes from the UK. It’s true that a lot of the curry houses have their roots in traditional Pakistani/ Punjabi cuisine rather than reflecting the variety of what Indian food really has to offer, but it’s not really my intention to talk through the etymology of curry, so we’ll leave that aside for now. What I love about the UK is the cultural diversity is not limited just to the capital but great Indian food can be found everywhere. Case in point: we’ve just returned from Nottingham where we may well have had one of the best Indian dinners ever!
Invited to Nottingham by Experience Nottinghamshire, they put together a sterling itinerary of all of Nottingham’s foodie hotspots (Keep your eyes peeled for that in days and weeks to come) and we kick off with Memsaab. Located very close to Nottingham Castle on Maid Marian way, it’s a short jaunt from our hotel and we’re suddenly enveloped in a bright buzzing room emitting the most heavenly smells.
King Prawn, Lamb Chop, Mint chicken and Cod start us off and oh, what a starter this is! The cod is the winner, it’s coated in the lightest most delicate crispy batter flecked with cumin, but it’s all so good I’m wondering how they’re going to top it! Even as I write this, it’s getting close to dinner time and I’m wondering if I can bypass the planned dinner menu and sneak in an order from the local takeaway, but I know I’ll be disappointed for it won’t be like this.
After such a start, we cannot come to any kind of decision on the mains and the staff suggest making us smaller sized portions of a couple of the house favourites – Chicken Garlic chilli – a fiery sauce of garlic and crushed green chillies (I’ll need my ice cold mango lassi at hand to douse the flames for this one), Nalli Gosht, described as lamb shank cooked on the bone in the traditional way and a bit of Saag Paneer to keep us in greens.
While we wait, we’re whisked off on a little tour of the premises. Nestled in the back is a lovely little private room that has seen weddings, parties and best of all, hosted the cricketing greats of the Indian team as they had a taste of home while playing in Nottingham. A far cry from our visit a few years ago, when having a guilty food stop in Pizza Hut, we spotted the lads chowing down to a Pizza Buffet!
But my favourite thing about the restaurant was the wall of paintings, depicting fierce Sikh warriors with their flamboyant moustaches watching over you as you eat. Spotlights shining on them makes it hard to capture them in their true royal fierce glare but I want one for my own home!
Mains are just as delicious looking at the starters and we quickly get working through our favourites – the clear winner for me is the Garlic Chilli chicken. Listen up because this not for the faint hearted, it’s exactly as it says on the tin and it’s just mouthwatering, despite the fact that I’m alternating every bite with either a gulp of lassi or a spoon of raita, i can’t stop dipping my naan in for more! The nalli gosht is far more to husband’s taste and between us we’re happy as a couple of clams in Nottingham.
Husband immediately bonds with one of the owners Sanjay, over a nostalgic love of all the bars and clubs he used to frequent in his university days and that coupled with him pressing us to have dessert, has us chatting away like old friends in no time. He does talk us into a couple of the desserts and it’s only thanks to his powers of persuasion that we did so, because I was so happily full, it was all I could do to concentrate on anything other than the warmth of a good night’s sleep.
As usual, we have tastes miles apart and the mention of Rasmalai has me reminiscing of my grandmother’s sweets back in India so I have to pick this, while Husband goes for the recommended Carrot Halwa. My Rasmalai is exactly as amazing as my grandmother makes (Don’t worry, she doesn’t read this or she’d be mightily offended!) and while Husband turns his nose up at mine, he’s quite happy polishing his off.
We’re so full now, it’s really impossible to think of anything else and we head off happy and content with just one thought: Wow.
Memsaab can be found at 12-14 Maid Marian Way, Nottingham NG1 6HS
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Experience Nottinghamshire and Memsaab, but as always, opinions are my own and my main outtake is that you must have the Garlic Chilli chicken.