When I first arrived in the UK I was gobsmacked by the plethora of curries available in Indian restaurants. In South Africa it’s a case of choosing between beef, lamb or chicken curry, followed by how hot you like it: mild, medium or hot. That’s it. Naturally, I got sucked in by the British curry culture.
Twice a year my parents come from South Africa to visit us and most of all Gabriel. Since Neil and I never go out it is a great excuse for my parents and I to explore the restaurants in the area. Starving for spicy food, which to Neil is a big no-no, we went to an Indian restaurant by default.
The description of the dish gives me the heebie-jeebies. What type of meat is in the samosa exactly? It gives the restaurant too much leeway to chop and change ingredients and you end up not knowing what you are eating. It left me indifferent.
The Chicken Tikka was good but the other two items, Sheek Kebab and something else mysterious, left me cold.
As much as I enjoyed the spices dancing on my tongue I found the salmon itself tough, which sounds impossible for fish. Maybe it was old?
Moist and tender, most enjoyable.
By no means am I an expert on anything Bhaji but although I found it comfortably crunchy, it was too floury for my taste.
In contrast to the Chicken Tikka, a leg of chicken is used. After I devoured it I seriously considered ordering another one.
This big plate of hot Naan, fresh out of the oven, had my mother in a state ecstasy.
My father and I quickly followed in my mother’s footsteps when we tasted this fantastic bowl of rice. I wish I knew how to prepare it. It was amazingly sweet and the grains were covered in finely ground coconut.
Chicken Tikka Korma
Always a classic and one of my favourite items on the menu. This one didn’t disappoint either and the portion was more than generous.
Chicken Tikka Massala
My other favourite on the menu – a real crowd pleaser.
Chicken Tikka Pathia
Apparently Pathia is much the same as Dansak but sweeter and with better flavours. When I’m eating curry I tend to rationalise that I’ve blown my calories for the day and might as well go all out for the meanest, creamiest curry on the menu. The Pathia wasn’t nearly as rich as the Korma or Massala but just as flavoursome and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.
Chicken Tikka Balti
Like the Pathia, the Balti is also tomato-based and didn’t fail to impress.
I really didn’t care for this vegetable curry.
A bit on the oily side but I loved how the aubergine simply melted in my mouth.
The mushrooms were prepared more or less the same way as the aubergine and just as delicious.
Nutty Meringue Ice-Cream
It’s a shame The Khyber Pass doesn’t bother offering fresh home-made authentic Indian desserts. Instead the dessert menu shows a few items that undoubtedly directly comes out of the freezer. So there really is no point in ordering them in the first place if you can buy the equivalent at your supermarket at the fraction of the price.
Inside Nutty Meringue Ice-Cream
This was the best the dessert menu had to offer.
Always trying to be different and having never tried Kulfi I tried this nutty version. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away and prefer traditional ice-creams. They could at least have taken it out of its plastic casing!
I heard no complaints from my mother regarding the Irish Coffee.
We visited the restaurant twice in a period of three days. Each time one of us ended up with a dickey stomach. Since we shared all the food among us, food poisoning can’t quite be the culprit but I think it’s more a case of overindulgence of the very rich foods we ordered.
7/10: The starters and desserts are letdowns but the main courses are 10/10.
9/10: When we ate there the first time they had a special for a three course meal plus a side dish for £11, which is pretty good value. It’s just a shame the food’s quality wasn’t consistent. Main course prices range from £4.20 to £9.95 but on average hover around £6. Any side dishes, including rice, are extra.
8/10: It seems as if it’s a family-run business. The father is the chef and his two sons the waiters. The restaurant isn’t very big and I would have preferred it if they didn’t constantly walk in circles around the room.
7/10: It did the job.
7/10: Twice we visited and each time the restaurant was empty save for one other table. It was overall very quiet and relaxed. We simply don’t like the loud droning of other people’s voices! Their takeaways are very popular though.
8/10: If you fancy a quick curry, this is the place to go to. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the starters or desserts to anyone with the exception of Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tandoori which were thoroughly enjoyed. The main courses’ portions are huge, delectable and good value for money; paired with some Coconut Rice and Fresh Naan Bread you just can’t go wrong.
The Khyber Pass
440 London Road
01702 342144 / 01702 341046