Red Chilli, Littleover, Derby Restaurant Review

With the snow still crisp on the ground, the air so cold you could slice it, what else would you like inside you than the glowing warmth of an Indian meal?

With the snow still crisp on the ground, the air so cold you could slice it, what else would you like inside you than the glowing warmth of an Indian meal? Red Chilli in Littleover is a recent arrival on the Derbyshire gastronomic scene, and in the short time since its opening has attracted a growing, enthusiastic and loyal client�le. We’d been invited by Mr Chunu Miah, its charming owner, who, as we arrived was bustling around bestowing his ready smile on a surprising number of diners for such a terrible evening. The clean-lined and comtemporary restaurant, which serves Indian and Bangladeshi food, as well as dishes with a modern twist, can accommodate 170 covers. A vibrant neon-lit bar in one corner and flashes of colour here and there break up simple cream walls, while gleaming wood flooring lends sophistication to the mix.

I have to confess that I’m rather a wimp when it comes to Indian food, becoming full very quickly. In addition, my daughter is at that uncomfortable stage of pregnancy when little and often is the only way to go. I explained all this to Mr Miah who kindly insisted that we try a full range of dishes. I could see a massive doggy-bag resulting from this, but he waved away my doubts and proceeded to describe dish after dish with the passion of one who knows what he’s talking about.

Crispy poppadums with a piquant selection of chutneys and pickles arrived with our drinks, shortly followed by our starter, king prawn on puri. I’d planned only to sample this dish, huge prawns in a – is ‘sauce’ quite the right word? – of tomatoes, onions, bhuna sauce, capsicums and garlic, all refreshingly underscored with the evocative taste of coriander and served on a delicately puffy chappati. But no sooner had I laid down my cutlery than I’d picked it up again, here spearing a juicy morsel of prawn, there a forkful of the sauce, until it had all more or less disappeared, so delicious was it. Efficient and smiling waiters replaced our empty plates with platters of lamb bhuna, king prawn korma, okra, my favourite sag aloo (spinach and potatoes), chicken nawabi khazana, one of Red Chilli’s most popular and visually stunning dishes, and a portion of pilau rice decorated with caramel-brown onion slivers. Although there was enough for a family of six, we helped ourselves to modest spoonfuls of each dish, the colours and fragrances mingling to produce a visual and olfactory treat. And what a treat!

Lamb bhuna that melted on the tongue with a velvety mouthful of sag aloo; nutty pilau rice soaking up the creamy korma sauce, with more of the giant prawns providing texture; the new (to us) taste and texture of okra, somewhat courgette-like yet with a flavour all its own; and the piece de resistance, the nawabi khazana, ‘a little of everything’ with pieces of russet-red chicken, all kinds of vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs, all bathed in a rich medley of flavours. (Various styles of this are available and it also comes in a hotter version for the experienced curry aficionado.) This dish famously leaves the diner satiated – yet the palate wanting more of the flavour sensation.

To our surprise, by the time we had to give up on the main course, much of it had disappeared – a tribute to its excellence. The only way to complete such a feast was with kulfi, the creamy Indian ice-cream; we chose pistachio and mango, and I added a cup of black coffee.

Red Chilli can provide everything from a celebratory feast to a quick snack, and also has a separate room for private parties, business lunches or special events. A family birthday was being celebrated in the restaurant on the night we visited, which included a very young toddler, dressed in a pink, sparkly dress, who was clearly enjoying herself. Family seems to be a recurring theme: Mr Miah revealed that most of the staff, including head chef Harun Miah, were members of his family. From the happy vibe in the restaurant and the wonderful food that emerged from the kitchen, it was easy to see how the judges of the Midlands Curry Awards came to vote Red Chilli Derbyshire Curry House of 2009. With easy parking and a full takeaway menu, I’ll certainly make it one of my favourites for 2010.

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Red Chilli, 495 Burton"Road, Littleover, Derby, DE23 8FQ

Tel: 01332 762217

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