Massala Indian Dining
19, Anyards Road, Cobham, Surrey. KT11 2LW
01932 865 005
Cobham may not seem the natural choice to open a restaurant serving authentic Indian delicacies. However, I am delighted to say that Massala Indian Dining has opened its doors on Anyards Road and that the locals are very lucky indeed to have such a fine restaurant in their town.
No: 19, is at the end of a rather ordinary building with plate glass windows. But there is nothing ordinary about Massala, which serves delicious North Indian curries and accompaniments with Dal Makhani - black lentils cooked over charcoal with cream and butter for 30 hours, being their signature dish. Simply decorated with white washed brickwork and a hard floor, make it a bright and clean looking restaurant. The bar is at the back and not ideal, as you are relying on the staff to be eagle-eyed when entering and greeting you without delay. Colourful artwork of Rajasthani puppets hang on the walls together with quality gold leaf silk paintings.
On this occasion, I was treating my nephew and niece to dinner, as Harri was finishing his exams and Celia never says no to Indian food! I decided on Massala, because I wanted to show them the huge variety of cooking styles that the Indian subcontinent has to offer. Upon entering, we were warmly welcomed by the waiting staff and shown to a circular table by the window. Starched white linen cloths and napkins are cleanly laid with sparkling cutlery and wine goblets. Our drinks order was taken and 'Pappadums 95p each - plain or spicy,' with 'The Relish Tray - £1.95,' which included: Podina, Mango Chutney and a very finely diced Cachumber, were brought to us. All were fresh and delicious. Head Chef, Sunil Kumar Sinha, dressed in pristine white chefs jacket, likes to welcome his guests, old and new and will be found in the restaurant, making dish suggestions and taking initial orders. He really cares that you order the right dish, one that suites your palate.
Chef Sunil, knowing that my nephew loves his Tandoori, suggested a dual dish of, 'Zafarini Malai Tikka £4.95 - tender chicken marinated in cream, cheese and spices, flavoured with cardamom and stems of coriander and then cooked in a charcoal oven,' with 'Gilafiseek Lamb - Punjab region £5.95 - minced lamb cooked in a clay charcoal oven deftly wrapped in fresh aromatic vegetables flavoured with ginger and hot spices.' Harri was extremely happy, eating every last tender morsel without offering a crumb to either of us! Celia, on the other hand, having recently discovered Indian cheese, decided that, 'Tandoori Paneer Khaas - Punjab Region £5.50 - Indian Cottage Cheese filled with piquant chutney and pickles and marinated and grilled with vegetables in a clay oven,' would be her choice and beamingly reported that it was amazing. She generously gave me a forkful and I can report that is was indeed spiced with a good helping of green chutney and was very melt in the mouth. And for me? I decided on an all-time favourite, 'Aloo Tikki - Delhi Region - £4.95 - potato patties filled with a combination of spiced dates, ginger and cashews topped with a tamarind and mint sauce.' It has been sometime since I ate this dish and although, huge, as were all our starters, I enjoyed every spoonful. All three starters were stylishly presented on white plates.
We all decided that a little rest was needed, before our mains, which gave us an opportunity to discuss the menu again. Chef Sunil ventured into the dining room, to council us. The menu is concise, however, this did not make it any easier to make a decision. Evenutally, we decided that we should try one new dish, which was 'Safroni Chicken Korma - Lucknow Region - Succulent chicken infused with a mild flavour of Awadh saffron and cardamom and cooked with cashew nuts, onions and topped with almond flakes - £9.95.' This is not like any other Korma that you may have tried, it is a deliciously rich dish and Harri ate it all, declaring to Chef Sunil, that it was the best Korma that he had every tasted! I don't think he will ever order a Curry House Korma again! Celia decided on 'Murg Tikka Lababdar - Delhi Region - Chicken Tikka cooked with fenugreek flavoured onion and tomato Massala sauce and finished with coriander and cream - £10.95,' which I consider a CTM but better. She liked it very much, and happily dipped torn slices of Nan bread into the creamy sauce. And I, 'Chicken Tikka Massala - Punjab Region - Succulent chicken tikka infused with herbs and spices and slowly cooked in a clay charcoal oven with our own special recipe of Massala sauce - £9.95.' Not a dish I would normally choose, as I like my curries chilli hot, but I knew that I wouldn't be disappointed here. It was individually spiced and quite superb. We accompanied our mains with, 'Pilau Rice - Saffron £3.75 - Basmati rice infused with bay leaves spices and brown onions,' and two different breads, 'Nan Bread £2.95 - made by the Tandoori Chef to a special crisp fluffy recipe,' and 'Garlic and Coriander Nan £3.95 - made by the Tandoori Chef with garlic and coriander.' Chef Sunil came to check on us, to see if we needed a side dish, but we declined as mains in Massala are as generous in size as are starters. While we ate, appreciative diners arrived and gradually filled the restaurant.
Massala Indian Dining have a Five Course Taster Menu, which I can recommend, at £29.95 per person (minimum two persons). This menu is exceptionally good value for money considering the dishes served, which include: a selection of Pappadums with freshly prepared chutneys; Methi Machchi Tikka; Zafarini Malai Tikka and Gillafiseek Lamb; Murg Tikka Lababdar; Lamb Rogan Josh; Aloo Hara Dhania Massala; Tadka Dal; Pilau Rice and an assortment of Nan and Paratha. Followed by, (if you have the room), a choice of dessert: Chocolate Chili Brownies, (Pat and I have eaten these and can confirm that they are hot, using habanero chillies, but also wonderfully chocolatey), Exotic Ice Cream or Gulab Jamun. Vegetarians are not left out, as they have their own special menu.
Dining space is limited, as Massala Indian Dining isn't a huge establishment, so do book for a table on the weekends. There is a lovely private courtyard at the side of the restaurant, in which to enjoy sunny lunches and early dinners.
Hours: 12pm to 2.30pm and 5pm to 11.30pm.
Massala Indian Dining
19, Anyards Road, Cobham, Surrey. KT11 2LW
01932 865 005 www.massalacobham.com