Dining out at Elaichi, Belper
- Credit: Archant
Our reviewer goes in search of a winter warmer and discovers delicious Indian cuisine
On a cold and dreary night there’s nothing more comforting than the promise of a good curry, so it was with eager anticipation that my friend and I arrived at the Elaichi restaurant in Belper.
Despite arriving early on the Thursday evening of our visit, the bar and lounge area was already bustling with diners. Thankfully, we had booked a table in advance and were swiftly shown to the comfortable and contemporary first floor dining area.
A family-run business, Elaichi was established over eight years ago by Akhtar Mian and has since gained a loyal customer base, with a great reputation for serving high quality Indian cuisine at reasonable prices.
The menu is extensive and displays a huge variety of Northern Indian and Bangladeshi dishes that range from well known favourites to unique and exotic specialities. Our waiter had an excellent knowledge of both the menu and the different herbs and spices used in each dish, so was able to guide us expertly through the choices.
On his recommendation we ordered a Sholay kebab of minced lamb spheres, wrapped in wafer-thin strips of char-grilled chicken and accompanied by a fantastic tamarind chutney to start, as well as Salmon Dil Tikka – a generous pan-fried salmon steak served with onions. Determined not to miss out, we tried each other’s meals and the salmon was so flavoursome that we squabbled over who would finish it!
Continuing the sharing theme, for the main course we chose Lamb Handi Korai. This fiery meal is cooked using the incendiary Naga chilli – the hottest in the world – and served in a foil parcel. When unwrapped, it released an incredible aroma of intense spices and when eaten the heat was followed by warm, mellow flavours.
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To accompany the Korai we chose one of the restaurant’s specialty dishes. Called Lobster Chomothkar, it consists of succulent tiger prawns that have been cooked in their shells, served in a buttery mushroom sauce. This smooth and rich compilation was a mellow match to the heat of the Korai and the sauce was truly delicious.
We shared side orders of delicate pilau rice and saag paneer – a velvety dish consisting of spinach and cubes of soft Indian cheese. Each meal was a work of art and part of Elaichi’s signature presentation is to surround each plate with colourful drawings and skilfully cut vegetables.
Diners, be warned! Portion sizes are generous so unfortunately we weren’t able to eat a dessert. We rounded off a fantastic meal with two robust coffees accompanied by a box of after dinner mints. (Chocolates don’t count even when you can’t manage a dessert!)
A test of a good restaurant is whether you would recommend it to your closest friends. In the case of Elaichi, I would have no hesitation – in fact, at the time of writing, I have already visited this gem of a restaurant twice more. n
Elaichi, 84 Bridge Street, Belper DE56 1AZ Tel: 01773 826900 www.elaichirestaurant.com