Charcoal Tandoor Grill is a cosy little restaurant in the bustling Safdarjung Enclave market and it stands out from the rest. This is an intimate, inviting place and the hues of amber, black and white bring the theme right onto the table.
The menu here is how I like it to be. Precise menus spell quality and Charcoal’s 4 page menu fits the bill. There are two distinct sections, Indian Tandoori items as well as European grills.
Our meal began with a non veg platter that contained nimbu mutton, afghani chicken, tandoori murgh and mutton burrah. I would rate all items a 10/10.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Indian cooking is using the same spices (or spice blends) one can make such distinctly flavoured dishes. Charcoal upholds this tradition brilliantly.
The nimbu mutton was tender, tangy and a great family recipe (of the owner’s). The murgh tandoori was perfect – mildly spicy, juicy and tender with a brilliant char on top. In a city that has such magnificent tandoori murgh outlets, this is one of the better ones.
The afghani chicken was the same. Juicy morsels of chicken in a creamy marination, charred to perfection. My favourite dish was the mutton burrah though. The mutton fell off the bone and the tangy sauce complimented it really well. The good people at Charcoal did tell me how many trials have gone into perfecting the dish and it showed.
I did have two vegetarian items, the tandoori broccoli and paneer tikka. The paneer tikka was sublime but for a person with a broccoli aversion, I adored the broccoli. The marination was creamy, cheesy with some minute cashewnut pieces. I cannot believe how good broccoli could taste using simple ingredients.
The main course is limited but delectable. I had tasting portions of the chatpate aloo and the fabulous lal maas. I found nothing majorly wrong with the chatpate aloo but it was a little under seasoned for my liking. The Lal Maas was a different story altogether. I have not been to Rajasthan and had lal maas there but this will match upto any lal maas I have had in Delhi. Dark red in colour, hearty, spicy and that amazingly cooked mutton – perfection this. It goes very well with the lal mirch ki roti for people who want an extra kick.
I also tasted two Western dishes, butterfly prawns and a river sole. The prawns came with a mustard cream sauce that elevated the dish to another level. And just to add, these are proper tiger prawns not the dibbly ones served at various local outlets.
The river sole was grilled perfectly and the skin was crispy and tasty. Seasoning was again an issue for me but that can be discounted as everything else was near perfect. It came with a buttery sauce that made me overlook the under seasoned fish.
I had two desserts the chocolate truffle with ice cream and the charcoal phirni After the two great courses the first dessert was a slight letdown as it wasn’t made in-house. The second dessert was interesting but I was forced to think of the other great phirnis I have had in the city.
I love places that are born out of passion rather than strict commercial considerations and Charcoal is a labour of passion. Endless tasting sessions and several months spent on the menu has led to Charcoal not just standing out because of its decor but because of its food.
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