Hey Foodwala boys and girls… hope you are all safe and well
Please remember to subscribe to the Alfie Foodwala Facebook and Instagram pages, tag, and please share with six people if you like this review, message me if you have constructive feedback.
If you would like to “Eat with Alfie Foodwala” please email me at email@example.com
Furthermore, if you know of a restaurant that I should review please let me know.
“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”— Leonardo Da Vinci
As you well know, Indian/Pakistani food is the most popular form of eating out in the UK.
However Indian and Pakistani cuisine is going through an exciting period of a renaissance.
The fearless trailblazers who moved from the deepest and darkest India and Pakistan in the late ’50s and early ’60s pioneered the restaurant business, they saved up pennies from working back-breaking jobs in shipbuilding and public transport to buy Italian cafes and turn them into “Indian” restaurants.
They did not have any written recipes, as many could not read or write but literally asked their mums how to cook, then through trial and error, they figured out what suited the western palette and developed dishes to suit.
The indigenous population loved the novelty of it all and the early restaurants were established, a case in hand is the Shish Mahal in Glasgow.
The Renaissance that is happening now is that the Indian and Pakistani restaurant scene is now changing, the grandchildren of the early restaurant pioneers are now bankers, doctors, lawyers, and tech entrapanurs and are no longer interested in restaurants.
In its place are passionate individuals who see restaurants as an Art and chefs as artisans, no longer is the food adapted to the western palette but authenticity is the buzz word, the new Renaissance men are Aktar Aslam of Opheem, Birmingham, Chet Sharma of BiBi Mayfair, Jaf Ali of Khai Khai Newcastle.
They have turned their back on successful careers in banking and science and followed their passion for food and restaurants.
This week we followed one such Renaissance Man and we visited Khai Khai in Newcastle.
Khai Khai is the brainchild of the Indian Street Food pioneer Jaf Ali, who owns the Dabbawal chain of street food cafès, he made street food interesting before the likes of Dishoom and Mowgli got into the act.
The Chef is the Michelin-starred Alfred Prasad, so you know which way the restaurant is heading.
We kicked off the proceedings with the Pappad basket, the basket was a mixture of Tapioca furr furr , crackers, and poppadoms, the trilogy of dips was the mint chutney, tamarind sauce, and the smoked tomato
The dips and chutneys went well but we missed the spiced onions.
Next was the Beef Shami, the wee bite-sized tikkis looked delicious, however, once we delved into the shammis it was a little dense and dry for my liking, usually, the shammis are light and airy as the meat is very finely minced.
The Chicken 65 is once removed cousin of the Korean Fried Chicken, the medallions of chicken breast is marinated with freshly ground masala and cooked in oil, and dusted with chaat masala.
The Chicken was delicious, tender yet crisp and the seasoning was on point, tangy and mirchy at the same time.
The Kolkata Chilli Chicken is a Bengal street food classic, the hand-ground spices, and sun-dried chillis are rubbed into the chicken breast and stir-fried, again well seasoned it was very tasty or should I paraphrase… “Bangin”!!!
The Josper Oven is a combination of a grill and an oven in a single piece of equipment. It cooks the chicken using charcoal heat only. The Chicken Tikka is extremely tender and moist, which is the “holy grail” of Chicken Breast.
In Indian cuisine, Broccoli is a misunderstood ingredient, usually relegated as an ingredient used in Sagg.
Here the Broccoli has been elevated to hero status, the Broccoli is marinaded in paneer, cream, and masala and then slow-cooked in the tandoor, one word delicious. the Broccoli was soft but not mussy, the masalas did their job.
Khai Khai promised
“Let’s take a journey back to the way things used to be. To heritage Indian comfort food expertly prepared with fire and smoke.”
In many ways they did exactly what it said on the tin, the meal was expertly prepared using fire and smoke, although the dishes were far from original, what was original was the innovation being used in the ingredients and the cooking.
The Service was professional and business-like best of all friendly without being overfamiliar
The Star of the Meal?
The Signature Tandoori Broccoli and the Josper Chicken Tikka were definitely the stars of the show
The miss of the Meal?
It would be unfair to say the Chicken 65 was the “miss”
So how did Khai Khai compare with its Indian Renaissance peers?
The Three best Indian Renaissance restaurants so far have been Opheem, Birmingham, BiBi Mayfair, and Jamovar Mayfair
Khai Khai holds its own against the London Hard hitters
The Chicken, Beef, and Lamb are confirmed 100% Halal
Alcohol is served on the Premises
NO Pork is served on the Premises
100% impartial Guarantee
Alfie Foodwala visits all restaurants anonymously and pays for the bill like any other customer, Alfie Foodwala does not accept free meals in return for reviews.