The Naan’ery at Baluchi, London

Kate Plummer

In the heart of Tower Bridge’s luxury boutique hotel, The LaLiT, is the pan Indian jewel that is Baluchi, a restaurant bringing inventive Indian cuisine to British palettes. We were invited along to their specialist Indian breads and wine pairing experience, the Naan’ery, to sample some delicacies from the tandoor. 
The restaurant itself has you feeling like you’ve stepped into the Hogwarts great hall, with high ceilings, deep blues and dark woods. The space makes sense when you realise that the hotel was once a grammar school and this was its assembly hall. There’s a nice nod to its background in the cocktail menus, which are hidden inside old school textbooks.

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For the naan’ery experience you’re seated at the bar where you should be able to marvel in the culinary magic of Executive Chef Santosh Shah as he creates the delicious dishes of the evening. However, thanks to a broken tandoor oven, we weren’t able to watch the magic happen on our trip – disappointing, but more than made up for by the infectious passion and attentiveness of Santosh and his team (big shout out to Chef Jomon, the happiest chef in London) who were excited to chat to us about each dish.
After sampling the cocktail menu (we definitely recommend the Indian Summer and the Princess in the Tower if you like something sweet and refreshing with a kick) and inhaling some delicious appetisers, it was time to naan like we’d never naan-ed before. The experience featured four artisanal naans with seasonal fillings followed by traditional tiffin alongside the expertly chosen wines throughout. Our favourites were the porcini and truffle, which was light and full of flavour, and the fig and cheese, which was a magic mix of sweet, tangy and rich. The blue cheese naan and the final sweet naan with its coconut and mango flavours were highly enjoyable and rounded off the naan experience.

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Our only complaint was that by the time the copper tiffin box arrived full of the best butter chicken we’ve ever tasted, the delightfully creamy 24-hour slow cooked black lentil dal Baluchi, soft pilau rice,and the carrot cake reminiscent flavours of the sweet spiced carrot halwa, we were too full of naan to manage more than a mouthful of each. Whilst the concept of naan as the star of the show is inventive and mouth-wateringly tasty, it almost goes against the ingrained advice of not filling up on the bread before the meal arrives, especially when you’ve got such tantalising tiffin to tuck into afterwards. 
This whole experience just goes to show though that anyone thinking breads couldn’t make a filling meal would be proved wrong, but perhaps slightly smaller portions would mean every part of the meal could be inhaled with as much gusto. At £55 a head or £99 for two, it may not be your new replacement for the weekly Indian takeout, but as a payday treat or for a special celebration it’s a great mix of delicious tastes, opulent atmosphere and pure passion for Indian cuisine. 

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