Having never been to India, my only experience of Indian food so far is at British-style Indian restaurants – so when I was invited to review Sholay Indian Kitchen in Bristol, I was interested to try out their take on Indian street food.
Sitting on the top floor Wapping Wharf’s Cargo 2 shipping container complex, the cosy interior is styled on a Bollywood-esque roadside diner. The walls are covered in bright murals and the close proximity of the open kitchen adds to the street food atmosphere. We chose to eat outside on the terrace though, as we didn’t want to miss the chance to enjoy some rare autumn sunshine.
Despite the relatively small menu, the kitchen offers a decent range of small and large plates with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. They use reputable suppliers for their produce. We each ordered a small plate, large plate and a side, but had everything brought to us at once – so much food!
What we ate
Kale and Onion Bhaji – £4.50
I am entirely incapable of eating an Indian without having a bhaji – these kale and onion ones were delicious. Crispy on the outside and light and fluffy inside with a mild flavour, they went well dipped in the accompanying sauce. I probably could have taken a touch more kale in them though to be honest – I love it but couldn’t really taste it.
Bhel Puri – £4.50
Bhel Puri is a savoury street snack made of puffed rice, vegetables and a tamarind sauce –apparently it’s a favourite in Mumbai. Served in a paper cone, it looked like it would be a little bit on the heavy side, but it was actually extremely light and crispy. The pomegranate seeds on the top not only looked pretty, they added a little burst of sweet freshness that contrasted well with the spicy flavour. It was definitely one of the stand-outs of our trip.
All Day Railway Breakfast – £7.00
My husband is a massive all-day breakfast fan so couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try Sholay’s version. His All Day Railway Breakfast consisted of a masala omelette, and a slice of buttery paratha bread which was perfect for dipping in the pot of dal. The dal was mildly spiced and quite light in texture – quite different to the almost-stodgy dish I’m used to (but then, maybe I’m just not very good at making dal!).
Baingan Moilee – £8.50
The other stand out of the meal had to be the Baingan Moilee. This vegetarian dish consisted of mashed potato topped with a soft, tender aubergine, served in a creamy coconut sauce. In fact, calling it simply ‘mashed potato’ doesn’t do it justice at all – the crushed potatoes were combined with onion, peas and peppers which kept its texture as it became merged with the mild spiced coconut sauce as you ate. The aubergine was meltingly soft and not at all rubbery.
Gobi – £4.50
When originally choosing my starter, I was torn between the bhajis and the chilli paneer. Our waiter helpfully noted that the gobi was served in the same sauce as the paneer, so I could chose that as a side dish. It was a great suggestion as it was delicious. The sautéed cauliflower was soft, with a crispy exterior and the sauce was deliciously sticky and not too spicy. I’m definitely going to give the paneer a try next time I’m there.
Katchumbar – £4.50
This classic Indian side salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion and coriander was dressed with a simple dash of lemon juice.
Kulfi – £4.00
Although we were stuffed after all of that food, it would have been a bit rude to not at least have some dessert! The single dessert on offer at Sholay is kulfi, which is an Indian take on ice cream, but perhaps a bit thicker and creamier. I went with Malai flavour, which is a creamy ingredient, somewhat similar to condensed milk, while Patrick had the honey and rose, which tasted exactly like Turkish Delight. A stick of kulfi was the perfect amount to round off the meal without being too heavy.
The kitchen’s street food ethos was perfect for its Cargo 2 setting – the restaurant was vibrant and informal with friendly staff, and serves a balanced range of dishes. The fresh food is much lighter than your usual Indian takeaway so is a great option for both lunch or dinner. The standouts were definitely the Bhel Puri and the Baingan Moliee – I’d happily eat both of them again and again. The portion sizes, even for the small and side dishes, were generous and the prices were decent prices. The only one that wasn’t was perhaps the Katchumbar, where we felt the price was slightly high for the amount of salad we were given. However, that tiny niggle aside, Patrick and I both loved Sholay and would definitely visit again.
My visit to Sholay was complimentary for the purpose of review, but all opinions are my own.
Co-editor Emma is LWT’s resident history lover and fact nerd. She loves travelling overland – especially by train. Her trips tend to be planned around good food and a little bit of adventure.
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