When I hear the word India, I think “that’s my roots”. Indian, “that’s my culture… who I am”. Someone will truly never experience the culture of being Indian, until you give me both your hands and let me take you with me. The colourful clothing, the sweet indian sweets, the oily curries, the warmth of the south Asian sun.
This is one of the reasons I don’t usually eat at Indian restaurants in London, as it doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t feel authentic. I like my curries to have a great surfacing of oil because that’s how it’s traditionally made, sweets dripping in sugar syrup, the thickest of mango lassi’s and the freshest street food. That’s home.
I recently visited Gaylord, after I had heard so much about it. I thought, there must be a reason why everyone raves on about it surely? After all, it has hit its 50th anniversary as a London restaurant and the longest standing Indian restaurant too. Going in without high expectations, I wanted to see what they had to offer.
Binny and I visited on a weekday night, just the two of us. Especially, as she understands Indian food like I do.
We sat down in what was an elegantly simple restaurant. Cushioned booths, white table clothes laid out with wine glasses and glistening silver cutlery. Our waiters came over to greet us and welcome us to Gaylord restaurant. It’s so rare to get a truly warm welcome at restaurants these days, so I was overjoyed that our presence was deeply acknowledged.
We ordered the usuals, Binny on a mojito and myself on a champagne or champagne based cocktail. Clinking our glasses to our blossoming friendship and the chance to visit Gaylord together.
We were brought out gol gappa, which is often known as panipuri. It’s a traditional Indian street food. The base is a small fried puri, which you make a hole in the centre before filling it with flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chilli, onions, fried potatoes and chickpeas. It’s literally the best thing ever. I remember growing up as a kid and we used to all sit as a family and make a dinner out of just panipuri. There would be tonnes of laughter when one of us couldn’t make holes in the puri or not being able to fit the whole thing into your mouth. Oh, the memories…
For our starers, Binny and I went for meaty options. We both cook enough vegetarian dishes at home, so it was nice to have a change. We ordered some murg gilafi seekh kebabs which was chicken mince with chillies, smoked and chargrilled on skewers. Served on a bed of lightly cooked onions and topped with bell peppers. Scrumptious!
Binny recommended the lamb Shammi kebabs, which is a Gaylord restaurant speciality. Which is marrinated minced lamb patties served with light mint sauce. They were so, so good. Great shout, Binny!
Whilst we waited for our mains, we snacked at the puffed, crispy popadoms, dipping in them in the the sweet and spicy mango chutney. My favourite.
Our mains arrived in the quickest time. We were honestly so surprised. Pipping hot bowls and karays of delicious, oily curry. Ahh… the aroma. Just like how our kitchen smells when my mum cooks at home. The smell of comfort food and mothers loving touch mixed together.
We sampled a range of different curries they had to offer. My favourite was the butter chicken, just because it tasted so, so good. There are simply no words to describe how lovely it felt it to taste food that was cooked so authentically but still be in the heart of London. The chicken tikka masala was just as good but not my favourite.
Our waiter brought us out Baingan Hyderabadi on the house, which was a side of aubergine chunks which were simmered in spicy masala gravy. Yummmm!
Dipping our fresh butter naan in our curries, we were living the dream.
We didn’t order any rice, as we aren’t huge fans of rice besides the usual Indian stereotype. However, we were so full from our starters and mains, we couldn’t even face having dessert (a very rare occurrence!). The gulab jumboo aka gulab jamun is a must have if you haven’t had it before. It is one of my favourite Indian desserts. I will definitely try it next time I go to Gaylord Restaurant though.
I certainly would recommend Gaylord Restaurant as a place to visit if you’re looking for proper authentic Indian cuisine. It was so great to find a restaurant that cooks curries just like my mum does, except with great attentive service and no washing up to do! 😉
Until next time…