Dhaba 15, Norwich, food review: 'Innovative dishes without a chicken korma in sight'
Louisa Baldwin tries Norwich's new Indian street food restaurant.
Dhaba 15 opened its doors last month by cousins Jahangir and Juned whose family own popular curry house Merchants of Spice in Colegate.
Stepping inside the restaurant, it’s clear the pair is looking to create something different entirely.
Where Merchants of Spice has plush seating and chandeliers, Dhaba 15 has minimalist decoration with booth seating and paper menus as placemats.
The menu is packed with innovative dishes without a chicken korma in sight and the likes of tikka masala, bhuna and jalfrezi are described as ‘British-Anglo curries’.
Whereas the authentic offerings have descriptions of an M&S Food advert standard, these curries are grouped together at the bottom of the menu with just the name.
I’ve never heard of most of the dishes, which is refreshing, and after recommendations from the waiter I opted for Gol Guppa to start which are puffed crispy balls filled with spicy potatoes, chickpeas and tamarind water.
The Gol Guppa are golden brown baubles full of punchy flavours and the spice is balanced with sweet pomegranate seeds and cool yoghurt.
The waiter encourages us to eat each ball in one go as that’s how it is enjoyed from street markets in India.
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We then ordered Patha Chaat which is kale in crispy chickpea batter with Greek yoghurt, tamarind chutney, mango chutney, chaat masala and pomegranate seeds.
The dish looked like an Indian bubble and squeak and was presented in a dollop on the plate – again, just how it would be eaten on the street.
The kale tasted like crispy seaweed from a Chinese takeaway, which everyone knows is the best bit, and again balanced well with the yoghurt and pomegranate seeds and moreish mango chutney.
Next we tried the Hyderabadi lamb chops with a spicy marinade and the tender meat teased of the bone.
We had to wait a little longer than I would have liked for our curries but it would be harsh to judge them on this in their opening week.
To share between two we had Mandarin chicken, Persian beef curry and Dal makhani– slow-cooked mixed lentils, fine spices and buttermilk served with pilau rice and garlic naan.
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The Mandarin chicken uses mild spices and is blended with orange essence and almonds which was sweet and indulgent.
But the real star of the show was the Persian beef curry which had us scraping the bowl at the end with slow-braised beef which melted in the mouth and cut through like butter.
The beef was swimming in a fragrant sauce with coconut cream, coriander, nutmeg and plenty of spice and was delicious.
To finish we enjoyed some carrot cake which is a recipe which has been created by the owners and is made by a local baker – it’s great to see the independent scene in Norwich supporting each other.
For many of us a beer of glass of wine with a curry goes together like eggs and bacon but Dhaba 15 is alcohol-free which may put some customers off.
But the booze free alternatives are pleasant enough including a mojito and pina colada and lassi which is an Indian yoghurt-based drink.
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In terms of price it’s about average for Norwich with mains ranging from 8.50 for a Kolkatta Kasundi curry to 13.50 for Kashmiri rogan lamb shank.
Before visiting I was dubious of the decision to open another curry house on Magdalen Street, but Dhaba 15 more than holds its own and offers something new.