14th February to 27th March, 2011
Reviewed by Dominique Chapman
New Malden’s Sesame Restaurant, is becoming well known for its authentic regional food festivals. Head Chef, Dipak H Palma, (in the photo opposite with Pat), is a Christian and from Bangladesh. Under his culinary direction, lucky locals have so far enjoyed Bengali and Seafood Festivals, currently Rajasthani, with Goa and Kashmir to come.
As I said in my previous report, Sesame is located on a busy road. However, Pat and I were fortunate to find a parking spot right outside the restaurant. On entering, we were greeted immediately, and our waiter for the night, showed us to our table, which he informed us, ‘is very popular.’ Apparently, regulars book it specifically! I can understand why, as it is in a slightly elevated position and has a first class view of my favourite elephant painting.
We were offered Sesame’s standard menu and the Rajasthani Festival menu. Pat and I immediately declined the standard menu, (although, it is not standard in any way!) after all, we were here for the Rajasthani delights!. While our waiter swiftly tidied away two place settings, (we were on a table for four), we nibbled upon, ‘Papadums 50p - very fine lentil wafers, plain or spicy,’ with, ‘Chutneys or Pickles 50p,’ and I told Pat what he was going to be eating!
Pat does love a good lamb kebab, so I chose for him, ‘Jaipuri Maas Tikki £4.25 - Tender minced lamb patties flavoured with cardamom and cloves griddle fried and served with fresh mint sauce.’ Two generous, similar in size to a hamburger, lamb patties arrived, accompanied by a fresh, finely shredded salad with lemon wedge and a dainty pot of wonderful chutney. It was not mint sauce, but Podina, (meaning mint), which is a mixture of fresh mint and coriander leaves. This attention to detail is what makes eating at Sesame such a treat. For myself I chose, ‘Aloo Katlangi £3.25 - Potatoes stuffed with paneer (cottage cheese) and apricots, lightly spiced, grilled in tandoor and served.’ A good plateful of what can be described as potato wedges arrived. However, these were superior potato wedges! With scrubbed skins, they had indeed been stuffed with delicately spiced paneer, (one of my favourites at the Indian restaurant), and finely chopped apricot. A small salad accompanied, with lemon wedge, but I felt that a sauce was in need, so asked if I could have a little pot of Mint Raitha. Our waiter, asked if I would prefer a, ‘Mixed Raitha £1.75 - Savoury yoghurt mixed with green chilli, onions and coriander,’ or a, ‘Cucumber Raitha £1.75 - Savoury yoghurt mixed with cucumber.’ I thanked him and asked for the same Raitha that he had served with our Papadums. My little pot was immediately delivered with a smile. Another starter that attracted my attention was, ‘Rustami Khumb £3.25 - Mushrooms stuffed with potatoes and pomegranate seeds, cooked in tandoor and served.’ I adore pomegranates, like eating little rubies!
For our main, there was only one dish for Pat and that was, ‘Lal Maas £6.95 - Rajasthan’s signature dish. Lamb is slow-cooked with red chillies and aromatic spices. Hot and spicy.’ This dark, deeply flavoured, tomato and red chilli based sauce, aromatically spiced, with whole green cardamom and very fine julienne of fresh ginger was served in a hand-beaten copper karahi, and decorated with a dried-whole red chilli. Last year, Pat and I had travelled extensively around Rajasthan and had eaten Lal Maas at every opportunity. Sesame’s dish outstripped all of these. Red chilli can be overpoweringly harsh, but this dish was clearly slow cooked, making the lamb tender and the sauce hot, but rounded. Pat ate every last morsel and ordered another portion to take home!
Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a Korma girl, I like heat! However, I spotted, ‘Murg-e-Mewar £6.95 - Chicken supremes stuffed with cashew nuts, raisins and green chillies simmered in a rich creamy sauce.’ I can report that this dish was the genuine article. A Mewari Korma as it should be. It’s creamy smooth, nutty sauce was spiced very delicately and complimented the huge slices of white chicken expertly, which were stuffed, similar to a roulade, with a mixture of finely chopped ingredients, including rounds of fresh green chilli. Sesame’s chefs have taken time and paid attention in producing this sophisticated dish, which was served, sprinkled with flakes almonds, in a white, boat-shaped porcelain bowl. It certainly had absolutely nothing to do with the crude, sweet and sickly Korma that you find in any high street curry house. Absolutely amazing - loved it!!
Other main courses which I commend you to try, are the, ‘Aab Ke Sooley £7.95 - Duck breast sliced and griddle-fried and finished in a spicy black pepper sauce,’ and the, ‘Pasande Raj Gharane Ke £6.95 - Paneer (Indian cheese) stuffed with almonds, coriander and dried figs served in a creamy tomato sauce.’
If you want to really taste Rajasthan then order, as we did, a side of, ‘Palak Wadi £3.50 - Leafy spinach with garlic, red chilli and fried lentil dumplings.’ Besan features heavily in traditional Rajasthani food and this remarkable dish consisted of tiny, firm besan flour dumplings, which had been fried in a spicy, dark brown sauce with finely chopped onion, finely shredded baby spinach leaves, and generously sprinkled with juliennes of ginger. This dish is best described as earthy and optimises the dessert terrane of Rajasthan.
Pat and I were both ordering breads, and the two we chose, again reflect authentic Rajasthani cuisine. ‘Besan ki roti £1.95 - Spiced chickpea and whole-wheat flour bread baked in tandoor,’ and, ‘Moong dal Naan £2.25 - Spiced moong (lentil) dhal stuffed in a Naan bread.’ Both were exceptionally good, lightly brushed with butter ghee. The Roti, is especially worth trying, because it is a mixture of besan and wheat flour. The besan making the outside crispy - the wheat making the inside soft. Thoughtfully, our waiter insisted that we needed a rice dish, and brought us a fine portion of, ‘Mewari Pulao £3.50 - Pulao rice with saffron, almonds, cashew nuts and raisins.’
On this occasion, Pat and I declined a pudding. But if you do have the room, do try one of the two delicious desserts included in the festival. ‘Alwar Ki Kheer £3.00 - India’s fabulous creamy rice pudding enhanced with mango, pistachio and praline,’ or, ‘Bharatpuri Samosa £3.50 - A remarkable halva (fudge-like) sweet stuffing in pastry, deep-fried and served with Vanilla ice-cream.’
As we enjoyed our Rajasthani Festival feast, customers came and went, and numerous takeaways were collected and delivered. Locals seated on the table next to ours, declared that this visit was their second in less that a week. Praise indeed!
Hours: Lunch: 12 to 2.30, Sunday to 3. Dinner: 6 to 11.30, Friday and Saturday to 12.
Log on to www.sesamerestaurant.co.uk to view all Special Offers, Live Music Events and Food Festival Menus.
Sesame Restaurant, 216, Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey. KT3 3RJ. Tel: 020 8949 2211
Photo Above Left: ‘Besan ki roti £1.95 - Spiced chickpea and whole-wheat flour bread baked in tandoor,' ‘Moong dal Naan £2.25 - Spiced moong (lentil) dhal stuffed in a Naan bread,’ 'Mewari Pulao £3.50 - Pulao rice with saffron, almonds, cashew nuts and raisins,' and ‘Palak Wadi £3.50 - Leafy spinach with garlic, red chilli and fried lentil dumplings.’ Photo Above Right: ‘Lal Maas £6.95 - Rajasthan’s signature dish. Lamb is slow-cooked with red chillies and aromatic spices. Hot and spicy.’
Photo Above: Pat Chapman meets Sesame's talented kitchen team.