If you had been wandering through Portman Square in 1810 you would have come across Hindoostane Coffee House, London’s first Indian restaurant - yes curries were already on the capital’s menus but there hadn’t been a restaurant dedicated entirely to Indian cuisine yet. And that was the start of Britain’s love affair with Indian restaurants.
Fast forward over 200 years to now and one restaurant writing the next chapter of this love story is Kahani in Chelsea. Meaning ‘story’ in Hindi, Kahani is where Michelin-starred chef Peter Joseph (he was head chef at Tamarind, the first Indian restaurant to win a Michelin star) is revolutionising Indian cuisine.
Drawing on the cooking tips he learnt from his mother growing up in Chennai, India and the experience he gained in British kitchens, Peter Joseph is doing away with heavy sauces and weighty dishes. Instead the menus are filled with plenty of grilled meats, fish and vegetables. Dishes on the a la carte menu include the likes of Trio of Chicken Tikka - tandoor grilled chicken supreme with cream cheese, mint and pickling spices and Kashmiri Nihari - Somerset lamb shank slow cooked with browned onion and Kashmiri spices. Alongside the a la carte menu you’ll find a Weekend Roast menu where the likes of Chargrilled sirloin kebab with truffle oil, ground fennel and royal cumin is served with cumin roasted potatoes, Paneer kulcha and supplements of Malabar smoked prawns. Or join them for their Prosecco bottomless brunch and feast on Keema Naan with smoked tomato chutney.
We, however, were there to try the six course Tasting Menu, perfect if, like us, choosing is just too hard and it can also be ordered with accompanying wines - depending on how indulgent you’re feeling. Highlights include smoked Malabar prawns marinated with fresh turmeric, coconut and curry leaves and Guinea fowl tikka where Chettinad spices and smoked tomato sauce cut through the rich game meat, the accompanying ajwain roti makes an excellent vessel for mopping up every last drop. Somerset lamb chops grilled in the Tandoor oven with Kashmiri-chillies and Nagercoil clove were particularly good too. We finished our feast with deliciously light Kulfi, make sure you leave space for them, they’re not to be missed.
Located on Wilbraham Place opposite Cadogan Hall, you’ll find Kahani in a red brick townhouse. Designed by Kai Interiors, there’s a pared back luxury to it, it’s understated but elegant. Think low lighting in bespoke leather pendants, a palette of rich blue and grey hues, simple mosaic tile patterns and soft velvets. It’s the sort of place you’d visit for a date on a Friday and then with all your friends the next day for a long catch up - we’re already planning our next visit.
Kahani, 1 Wilbraham Place, SW1X 9AE