Chai (formerly Chaiholics) has been quietly building a reputation for great Indian food for a couple of years, thanks to a team of chefs who earned their spurs in some of the best hotels in India and have been wowing customers with a fusion of influences from their lives and careers, mainly in India – from family recipes to street food to top hotels. Their emphasis is on authenticity, quality ingredients and great technical execution.
Since Chai started as a chai and streetfood café, we kicked off with two variations on streetfood-esque tempura batter (brought to India by the Portuguese), one a lightly spiced potato and sweetcorn fritter
and the other rather hotter Okra fries. Both were light, perfectly cooked and devilishly tasty; the Okra especially so, thanks to its added heat.
For mains we were spoilt by our hosts as a procession of stunning plates were put before us. Deliciously fresh, big, plump king prawns cooked in ginger and lemongrass were gone in seconds; marinated and cooked in a yoghurt, coriander and pistachio sauce so mellow the slow cooked lamb shank should be eaten lying down; the lentil daal was stupendous – exotic and so deeply flavoured whilst the vegetable jhalfrezi was stuffed full of a variety of quality veg; we were also treated to Chais’ takes on two classic, authentic dishes – a delicious railway lamb curry, tender, slow cooked and aromatic; and Lucknow lamb gosht, rich and full flavoured thanks to cumin, ginger and saffron.
You really can tell that every dish is uniquely prepared from scratch and it’s no surprise that they’ve recently won a People’s Choice Award and Welsh Curry Chef of the Year - not only is the food fit for a maharaja, these dishes would probably be recognisable to one as well.