Wymondham: India Village

David BanksNavigating its exhaustive 85 dish menu, DAVID BANKS joins Wymondham's own Village people for a friendly taste of India in the town's newest restaurant.David Banks

Navigating its exhaustive 85 dish menu, DAVID BANKS joins Wymondham's own Village people for a friendly taste of India in the town's newest restaurant.

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Judging by the exhaustive length and breadth of its menu, you could be forgiven for thinking that India Village lives up to its name and spreads across two or three streets. Not quite.

Having taken over from the recently demised Thai restaurant on the site, Wymondham's newest restaurant now occupies the small triangular building at the town end of Pople Street, round the corner from what will be its main rival, the well-established Shapla.

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There are eight or so tables of four in the narrow room. So you are assured of a certain level of cosiness. The decor is pleasingly neutral, the chairs agreeably high-backed and the four or five staff friendly, approachable and sufficient in number to ensure that our popadoms arrive with lightning speed accompanied by the regulation pickle tray, followed, by a pint and a half of Kingfisher, properly chilled with the beads of condensation on the glass straight out of a television commercial.

It's time then to ponder, and then ponder some more, at the 15 starters and 85, yes really, mains on the menu. Our indecisiveness is not helped by the size of the tiny type. It could have done service on the menu of a dolls' house tea set. And even then, the miniature teddy sitting on the sideboard would have had difficulty choosing what to have for his dinner.

Sensing his customers' plight, our ever-attentive waiter turns up the dimmers and agrees: 'Yes, it is a bit small.'

Sitting alongside the British Indian restaurant classics of onion bhaji, vegetable samosa, chicken tikka and king prawn butterfly in the starters section we pick hash tikka (duck marinated in herbs and spices) shob tikka (pieces of chicken lamb, duck marinated in yoghurt, garlic, coriander, lemon juice and spices) both of which are cooked in the tandoori oven and both served on a bed of sweetly softened onions and thinly sliced peppers cooked to an equal tenderness.

Again, among the tried and tested favourites in the mains section - from tandoori chicken to lamb and prawn biriyani, chicken and lamb tikka masala, king prawn kurma to lamb, chicken an prawn bhuna, to the whole range of dansaks, right along to the kurmas, jalfrezis and rogan joshes and ending up at the well-worn and palate-scorching vindaloos - there are some more original dishes.

The chef's medium-spiced specialities include chad sabjee, a vegetable dish cooked with fenugreek leaves and aajhki chicken or lamb is charcoal grilled and cooked with baby potatoes, onions, mushrooms and green peppers.

There are four Sri Lankan specialities: camei lamb is chops with the added promise of a hot blend of chilli and garlic. Salmon Negombo, meanwhile, is cooked medium hot, bhuna-style. Pangas mono is cooked once again with baby potatoes, while chicken Colombo offers another sizzler with green chillis.

There's a lot to look at here. But, finally my wife runs Bengal murg to the ground. It's chicken cooked with onion, tomato, green pepper, ginger, coriander and 'special spices'. It's on the chef's specialities list, as is my buhari lamb, which, says the menu, is popular in Bangladesh, is fairly hot and flavoured with fresh chillis onions and coriander.

We forgo the vegetable side dishes - aloo gobi, sag paneer, sag dall and the like - and order a special fried rice and a garlic naan to accompany our mains.

It all arrives in around five minutes and is just as described on the menu. As ever, my wife and I share each other's dishes. Her 'very special chicken dish' has a delicate blend of spices the coriander cutting through the sauce. But the lamb in my buhari isn't quite as tender as it might be. The sauce does have a pleasing chilli kick and, again, the separate flavours of the onion and coriander come through with ease. Sadly the slightly chewy lamb is the one negative in an otherwise textbook Indian restaurant meal in England.

That said, the warmth and welcome of the place is quite enough to make sure that we will go back and give it another try.

t India Village, 8 Pople Street, Wymondham, 01953 856007/8

t Opening times: Mon-Sat 12pm-2pm, 5pm-10.30pm

t Wheelchair access: Yes

t Vegetarian options: Plenty


Food: ***

Service: ****

Atmosphere: ***

Family: ***