Cumin, or the Cumin Indian Restaurant to give the place its full name is located on Maid Marian Way. I have heard a lot of good things about this place, and so when it came to finding somewhere for a family birthday celebration this place was right up on the top of the list.
It seems that almost all of the restaurants on this City Centre street have won or been nominated for awards and the Cumin is no exception. Check out their website to see who and whom has favoured them in the past.
They say that the Cumin specialises in Punjabi cuisine with an East African twist (I read that after we dined there) but we were to stick with some of your old favourites and classical options.
So what did we eat?
We selected two main dishes at the Cumin to share, one with chicken, and one with lamb.
So Chicken first
As I said the first one was the Murg Malabari which was described as ‘Tender chicken pieces, tempered with mustard and curry leaves, delicately spiced, cooked in coconut masala’. This was flagged on the menu with two red chillies, which I think is kind of spicy but not really hot spicy. The name of the dish more or less gives up the origin of this recipe which derives from Malabar island in the coastal region of northern Kerela. The dishes from that region often feature coconut and this dish is no exception.
The key flavours come from the curry leaves which I have used a lot in my own cooking, I use them often in one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes (his everyday curry sauce) and they have a distinct aroma which fills the house for days. It is kind of hard to describe the flavour and mouth feel of the dish but I will try. It is creamy from the coconut and then a little bitter from the curry leaf and the mustard seeds also add a darker taste. This sauce was lovely and creamy with a subtle flavour that was somewhere between smoky and slightly bitter (in a good way) and it had a nice level of spicing.
After we had finished the dish we added the leftover sauce to the leftover poppadoms on the table and it was a pretty good mix. I could eat this sauce on its own and forget about the chicken to be honest.
Now the Lamb
The second dish, the Karahi Gosht, was my choice and was essentially a spicy lamb dish. It was described on the menu as “Hot & Spicy Lamb cooked in a sauce with tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and bullet chillies cooked in a karahi”. OK so the name of the cooking vessel gives away half of the name, and the rest of the name,’Gosht’, gives away the rest as it means basically ‘meat or flesh’.
I understand that in many more traditional cooked versions that the meat would be goat or mutton (goat in some countries as well) so I assume that the Lamb is for the western guys. It would be amazing if one of these local Indian restaurants did actually use goat as it is a magnificent meat and I think makes a better curry than lamb. Ok so we kind of digressed for a moment.
The flavour of this dish was very good, deep, rich and tangy with plenty of well controlled spice. Content wise a couple of the larger bits of lamb were a bit chewy, and it was not really that spicy considering that it was supposed to have ‘bullet chillis’ in it and it had a three chilli rating. Having said that, I did like the flavour of this dish, the sauce was great, the lamb was good. I would have liked goat and maybe I will try it myself with that choice of meat.
To accompany the curry dishes we ordered a selection of your standard sundries, well we thought they were just standard, but they were actually the equal of the mains. The Sag Aloo arrived at the table looking all dark and mysterious, it was quite an amazing dish. I had been expecting to see more green in the sauce, but this was a much different affair to other Sag Aloo that I have sampled. The sauce was so dark I wondered what was in it and if it was even the dish we had ordered, but that was just my lack of understanding of the complexity of this side.
The menu description did not do it justice; “Diced potatoes cooked with fresh spinach, enhanced with delicate spices, finished with cream”. It looked nothing like that in the bowl, and it tasted way better than the sum of that list of ingredients, great job on this side Cumin, great job!
Together with the Aloo we had a Garlic Naan which was pretty good (I could have eaten two), and a portion of Lime Pilau which was a welcome variation on the Pilau rice front and somewhat different from your standard curry house options. All in all some pretty decent sides to go with our main choices.
I really enjoyed dining at the Cumin, it was not too fancy but that does not matter when you get good food and great service. Just the small things add up, when we arrived there was a small mix up with our reservation, nothing major and nothing to worry about, but even so they found us a table and gave us a free drink for our inconvenience. A nice touch, and if I am honest, sitting having a chat for a couple of minutes before being seated when I arrive 20 minutes early, really is not a major headache. So thanks to Cumin for such hospitality, it wasn’t necessary, but was very welcome and well received.
The next thing I loved was when we got the bill / cheque and we didn’t just get a mint or a chocolate on the dish along side it, oh no! we were given a treasure chest of mints and golden foil wrapped chocolates. It was very nice, over the top, and a mistake as I will tell you my dining companion had a handful of them. To be fair though it was her birthday meal out! For the record I only had one (insert some sort of disbelief type icon here).
I kind of like the Cumin, it was friendly, had good food, great service, and quite importantly no white tablecloths that I could spill stuff on.
You can check them out on Twitter and in person by strolling down Maid Marian Way to find them just near to the Castle.