Saturday, 4 June 2022

Rasa, London, vegetarian Indian restaurant review

Ren and Stimpy
Paul and Barry Chuckle
Cheese and pickle
Bill and Ted

Sure, they're all iconic, but none of these duos rank alongside the legendary pairing of a curry and a few beers.

Having had a few birthday drinks at Mother Kelly's in Stoke Newington, a curry was always on the cards.

However, as one of my good mates is a vegetarian, we decided to give Rasa a go. This south Indian vegetarian restaurant, with a history dating back to the mid nineties, has twice won the title of Time Out’s best vegetarian restaurant in London.

With its shocking pink exterior it’s pretty hard to miss and on a Saturday night the warren-like dining room was absolutely buzzing.

At £20 a head for Rasa's vegetarian feast, you get a lot of different curries for your buck. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about choosing what to eat.

A mix of snacks saw poppadoms, uber-crisp spiced pappadavadai (rice flour-battered poppadoms), crunchy twizzly murukku and banana chips served with an array of chutneys including a potent yet harshness-free garlic number and a vibrant lemon variety.

Hackney Brewing provided the beers and we were all impressed by their pale ale and lager.

Starters were a trio of deep fried things. The star was Mysore bonda, crisp balls of spice-laced mashed potato served with a creamy coconut chutney.

Also really impressive were kathrikka, slices of coriander and chilli-battered aubergine with a vibrant fresh tomato chutney.

Enjoyably unusual plantain fritters were served with a peanut and ginger dip. Overall the dish strayed a little bit too far into dessert territory for my liking.

Mains were the archetypal ”spread”, with the whole table covered with bowls of curry, rice and bread.

Highlights included paneer cheera with crisp golden pieces of cheese, soft spinach and a comforting creamy sauce.

A gigantic masala dosa covered the width of the table. Paper thin and crisp and stuffed with spiced mashed potato, it was accompanied by a coconut chutney and deep spiced lentil stew.

Light and fresh stir-fried cabbage thoran was flecked with coconut and warming mustard seeds whilst a black-eyed bean thoran was also pleasingly hearty.

A mixed vegetable rasa kayi, with tender carrots, beans, potatoes and cauliflower, had a lovely warming spiced creamy sauce.

Bagar baingan, the star of two aubergine curries, saw long-cooked pieces of the vegetable bathed in a tangy yoghurt and cashew nut sauce. Another, Rasa vangi, had an onion-packed sauce that would have benefited from additional caramelisation.

Crisp and flaky parathas were a lovely mop for all the sauces whilst coconut rice was impeccably fragrant and fluffy.

It's fair to say we were all absolutely stuffed so a dinky dessert of pal payasam was just the right amount. The decadently thick and creamy rice pudding was studded with sultanas and nuts.

We had a delicious dinner at Rasa and at £20 a head for a huge feast it’s a bit of a bargain too.

As far as vegetarian food goes, I reckon that Indian cuisine reigns supreme. With its cornucopia of curries and abundance of deep-fried snacks, there's just so many different things to enjoy.

The Details:

Address - 55 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0AR
Telephone - 020 7249 0344

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