Saturday 27 October 2007

Gurkha Durbar - Grayshott

The Petersfield Curry Club began its tenth year (?) with a visit to the roundly approved Gurkha Durbar. 15 of us, a XV, fitting given the clubs Rugby origins. For my part I’d only been to Grayshott once before to help Nan buy a carpet (my advice was only bought by the promise of an ice cream) so it was mostly new to me.

Aperitifs in the ‘Lounge Bar’ of the Fox And Pelican, rather plush, then up the road to the restaurant. PLACE is small and immaculate inside, pristine white walls draped with occasional Gurkha green flags, varnished wooden floor you could see your reflection in. In John’s absence Trevor fixed the menu and drinks were ordered.

Poppadoms came with mint yoghurt dip, mango chutney and something vaguely reminiscent of Branston pickle (Tamarind chutney ed!). We were SERVED very well. 4 starter platters between us, including deliciously moist Aloo Khaja (potato cakes with carrots, peas, ginger) as well as Chicken Liver (aka Kalejo Bhutuwa) that combined superbly with sweet roast red peppers and onion. Rather too salty char-grilled lamb only made into 50% of mouths, Sinka Prawn and the famous Momo were enjoyed by all. The main course included a couple of clay oven dishes, Chicken and Lamb (thumbs up), one each of several others, stand outs some of the milder dishes this time, Rato Kukhura, CTM cum Rezala, sweet, nutty, resplendent orange and Mayalu Khasi, Lamb like a velvety Korma. I’m a stickler for Veg and Aloo delivered super taste, Aloo Tama Bodi, bamboo shoots, black eyed beans and spuds, lovely mountain homestyle flavour to savour. Rice and Naans too…all at great value. PRICES are keen, not that the curry club care about menus just the FOOD which happened to be extremely good. Afterward, everyone invited back to Grayshott social club feeling well satisfied but by no means stuffed, besides the season has passed for stuffin’ (Turkeys everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief).

...On returning for my 23rd birthday, enjoyed slow paced evening in relative peace and calm. Informed by one waiter that in 2 weeks since Telegraph review restaurant has been fully booked, Monday the first quiet night. Glad of it? Unlikely, hard work second nature to a Gurkha.
After exchange of pleasantries our party of 6 set about ordering. House White, Pinot Grigio, a safe companion to curry meals, light, crisp, cutting through the spices, hitting top notes. Starters included aforementioned potato cakes (Aloo Khaja) and chicken livers (Kalejo Bhutuwa), one offering of deep fried Aubergine. Sensible portions - countless curry houses forget these are only supposed to be ‘appetisers’ - simple, fresh presentation. Chicken livers good depth and richness of flavour. Mains too many to mention. I chose Monkfish in a smooth, light tomato orange sauce, that sang of several spices, accompanied by a moist saffron gold rice, creamy homestyle black lentils (Kalo Daal), delicious and mild, as well as cumin spiced fried potatoes (Aloo Jeera), bit on the floury side.

...Aloo Jeera part of their Petersfield curry club selection third time around. This time the dish was executed perfectly, indicative of a restaurant going from strength to strength (like Englands Rugby World Cup team). We thoroughly enjoyed the same starter platter as in January. Choila one slight dud then was last night a highlight. Baby pieces of exquisite lamb, gorgeously salted with a smooth soft aftertaste of mustard and ripe spring onion. Momo, lovely, sweet, herby mince in fatty steamed dumplings, potato cakes, sinka prawn and chicken livers too. Mains, all delicious, no criticism, no need to be churlish. Largely medium to medium hot. Lamb curried 3 different ways. With lentils, rich, thick, hints of lemon. With peas and in a luxurious pink orange gravy resounding of ginger and garlic. Other treats included a piece of char grilled lamb, clay oven chicken each, 2 chicken curries in typical Nepalese style with tomato based sauce aromatic sauces, and 1 I missed. Mixed Vegetables, delicately treated, sumptuously buttery, Aloo Chana and Saag Aloo, Aloo Jeera both with firm starchy new potaoes simply added to the enjoyment.

...Eating with family friends from Fleet, almost every table (including ours) reserved. We were one of the first groups in, one of the last to leave. Another commendable meal. All of us enjoyed something different. A mild curry here, a clay oven dish there: on my left Mikey braved Tarai Kukhura, piquant, hot with chilli resin and on my right Dougie considered the 17 different spices in his Sherpa Lamb – I detected 7 or 8 though the bitter aroma of cloves was perhaps too predominant. However, little faulting the gorgeous Choila I had to start, more gingery than a fortnight previous, Kukhura Sag, a tangy, moist preparation of chicken and spinach or Pahelo Dal, yellow lentils, tempered with sulphurous garlic and coarse sweetness of cumin seed. Mushroom rice was perfectly acceptable too.

In SUMMARY the Gurkha Dubar is a fairly unique purveyor of ethnic cuisine, where one can enjoy dishes with individual character. Everything is beautifully presented and refreshingly moreish.

Willp2328 score: 8/10

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