Spice up your life
Sometimes a curry just hits the spot, doesn’t it? And I don’t mean after several pints of beer, either!
I have to admit to finding many of the area’s Indian restaurants a bit lacking; many seem to serve brownish mush, regardless of what you order.
But the Tamarind is a real find – tucked away in The Broads in Blofield Heath, near Acle. It was a former pub, The Two Friends, but was converted to a high end Indian restaurant in 2013, and the owner, Giyash Miah, hasn’t looked back.
It’s a biggish place, with plenty of room, so tables are not squashed in, and has a light and airy feel throughout. There are no swirly carpets or any sign of flock wallpaper, but rather subtle lighting and various traditional Indian artefacts on display.
Staff are immediately welcoming and very friendly. I took my fussy teenage daughter one evening and they got her trying a few dishes which was no mean achievement, I can assure you.
The cuisine is Indian/Bangladeshi and there’s an extensive menu, with firm favourites mingling with newer delights. So you can expect your prawn puris, samosas, biryanis and passandas. But the Tamarind specials can’t help but catch your eye. They include shahi raan, lamb shanks slow cooked with plenty of spices, and Beguni sea bass, served on sautéed aubergine.
Dishes are beautifully presented, and generous in size. Much use is made of fresh herbs and spices, and flavours are delicate. Expect to pay about a fiver for starters and £9 and upwards for a main.
We always start with a good few crunchy poppadoms, served with a choice of six different chutneys and dips, from mango to tamarind, that latter being perhaps an acquired taste.
Then it is straight into starters. I enjoy their tempura prawns, gently deep fried and served with salad and a couple of dips. They are not too heavy and a good way to kick off supper!
Himself had his old favourite – onion bhajis – and enjoyed dunking them into various chutneys still on the table. They were good and chunky, and much enjoyed.
For my main, I selected chicken shashlik and, I have to admit, I wasn’t too sure exactly what it was. But sometimes in life, you just have to go for it! It turned out to be tender pieces of chicken marinated in yoghurt, ginger and herbs, cooked in a tandoor oven and served on a sizzling iron platter. Served with chutneys and salad, it is a lovely dish – fragrant but not too overpowering.
My husband had another of his favourites, a prawn pathia, a hot, sweet and sour dish with plenty of tomatoes and peppers, which again received praise.
The restaurant offers a good selection of side dishes and it is easy to over order as they all sound so lovely – spinach and potatoes, lentils with garlic, mushrooms bhajis and more. We showed rather untypical restraint and just tried Bombay Aloo (spicy potatoes) which was delicious. And we shared a chilli naan bread and a portion of plain rice – next time I fancy the coconut rice.
The Tamarind has a good wine list but I always prefer beer with Indian food. Nothing slips down quite as nicely as a Kingfisher or a Cobra – they also serve Tiger.
It must be said that puddings are perhaps not why you go for an Indian supper so we usually skip them, maybe just having a coffee or herbal tea to round things off. But there is a fine selection of treats on offer should you feel like a slice of Key Lime pie!
Overall, this is a great find, and is justifiably popular so do book. There is also plenty of parking and a takeaway service.
Reviewed in Feast issue 23 – February 2018