Review - Chilli Pickle Canteen

Review – Chilli Pickle Canteen

Surrounded by a huge work load and multiple deadlines meant I gave myself the rare luxury of ordering a takeaway. I debated on calling up my old faithful (No 3 Chinese) but decided to give Chilli Pickle Canteen a whirl instead.

Having only experienced the Chilli Pickle’s authentic Indian cuisine once before and in all honestly, had my expectations dashed by below par service and dodgy costings (read the full review here) it felt that time was right to give this much respected and reputable establishment a second chance.

As R&B diva Kelis once said “trick me once, I won’t let you trick me twice” and this motto stands to be exactly why I rarely give restaurants, pubs, bars etc a second chance. However, something told me that the Chilli Pickle deserved a second go. Was I fooled? Read on…

I won’t go into the backstory of Chilli Pickle, every Tom, Dick and Harry knows they started off small, became successful and currently trade in the heart of Brighton on Jubilee Street. However, it was only recently that they started offering their Chilli Pickle Canteen service to those who wanted to experience authentic Indian cuisine from the comfort of their living room.

Well presented and branded at Chilli Pickle Canteen.

Well presented and branded at Chilli Pickle Canteen.

Keeping their takeaway menu simple is a key to their success. Instead of pages and pages of different curries, rice dishes, dal, naan etc to choose from, you have the option to order a ‘thali’ which translates into ‘plate’, although think of it as more of a platter of Indian delights. The Chilli Pickle Canteen offers two types of thali, Grand and Railway. However, if you did want to order your curry and sundries separately, you can do so but purchasing a thali provides you with more for your money.

Settling on the Nihari Gosht Grand Thali, the main dish was a fragrant Persian mutton curry with warn spices, brown onion and ginger and came with twelve other elements that would make up my Saturday night dinner, all for the bargain sum of £15.50. Ordering quickly and easily (with the added luxury of being able to pay via credit/debit card) I eased myself back into my work and waited to experience the Chilli Pickle Canteen for the first time.

Grand Thali from Chilli Pickle Canteen.

Grand Thali from Chilli Pickle Canteen.

It’s well worth noting here that on Friday and Saturday nights the CPC get very busy, so much so, on occasion the restaurant stops taking orders as they can’t keep up with the demand. Be smart, order early or expect to be disappointed otherwise.

Waiting just over an hour, the knock on the door finally came and I was presented with a large, square cardboard box. Interesting and certainly a step away from the bags of grease filled takeaway we’ve become accustomed to. Slipping off the cover, I was truly taken back by the detail and presentation of my meal. Each part was served in its own little tub or container, no need to dish out various elements onto a cold plate, you simply devour as you desire straight out the packaging! Clever, novel and a great selling point.

Chilli Pickle Canteen 3

Nihari Gosht and Pilau Rice from Chilli Pickle Canteen.

Nihari Gosht and Pilau Rice from Chilli Pickle Canteen.

The main curry dish of Nihari Gosht was a brash and bold array of flavours, aromatic with a good amount of heat to the sauce. The pot of spiced mutton bordered on too spicy for my palate but when paired with mouthfuls of naan and cooling raita, the heat balanced out to create a barrage of flavour in the mouth. The mutton was tender and fell apart easily, still retaining a slightly pink interior and you could really taste the ginger and green chilli. All in all, a really impressive dish and a great testment to the high standard of traditional Indian cooking you’ll find at the Chilli Pickle.

As for the other twelve elements to my Grand Thali, they each shone as much as the main event. The rice was served in a similar sized pot to the curry and arrived piping hot, scattered with cardamons and the odd clove. Paired with a creamy, spilt pea dal, I relished dipped chunks of parsnip pakkora into this translucent tub of yellow tinged goodness.

Potato, pea and mint + poppadom + parsnip pakora + vegetable samosa + baby naan.

Potato, pea and mint + poppadom + parsnip pakora + vegetable samosa + baby naan.

The above selection of sundries was a well thought-out and interesting selection that complimented both the sweet and savoury array of chutneys and pickles that lay before me. A stand out of the accompaniments was the apricot and mango chutney – unbelievably tangy and sweet yet went so well with everything I dunked and dipped into it!

My only minor quibbles were that the baby naan was ever so slightly dry and the carrot kasundi pickle left a bitter, unpleasant after taste. However, with so many positives it was hard to let these two negatives affect my sheer joy at the quality of this meal.

I wholeheartedly recommended ordering from the Chilli Pickle Canteen. The food is of a supreme quality, especially for a takeaway and the value for money is superb. The choice on offer is able to suit any pallet and I only wish I could tolerate more heat as their Goan Seabass Curry sounds like a dream dish.

Get onto the website, have a look around and treat yourself to something a little different in the lag between Christmas and New Year and I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

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Words and photographs by Claire Beveridge.