Meluha: Molecular gastranomy meets Indian cuisine…

As part of the many free activities on throughout the Food Connections festival, we went to the talk on Molecular Gastronomy at Bristol Uni Victoria Rooms, presented by Professor Peter Barham (who just so happens to advise Noma and Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck, don’t you know. Imagine dropping that little anecdote during dinner!) We both sat in awe throughout the presentation enthralled with everything he said. I want to go to his house for a dinner party and learn more!

Continuing on the theme of the evening, we ventured into Meluha on our way down Park Street. There’s been a lot of buzz amongst the Bristol foodies around this restaurant, but still I was unsure of what to expect. My experience of going out for an Indian include a choice from the same menu each time; I start with poppadoms and then move onto a standard curry with a naan. Now and again I might vernture out and get a side of saag aloo. Here I had to rethink going out for an Indian. This is far more special!! Even the beginning of the menu gets you exctited with the quote:

“Allow us to take you on a voyage through the senses, a flash of colour, a burst of flavour, the sudden scent of smoke & cinnamon. Allow us to leave a memory.”

YES!

I was almost tempted by their tasting menu. Promising the be the best way to try Chef Stephen’s cuisine, you are unaware of what dishes are coming up and have to put your trust in the chef. Talking to fellow owner, Jay, at the end of the night I now wish we did. Taking you on a journey through their menu, this option will begin with all the delights of fizz, bubbles and spices through to the more traditional Indian dishes you may be used to (BUT BETTER 😉  ) We wimped out a bit though and went from the a la carte, mainly because there were certain dishes we definitely wanted to try!

The first dish that drew us in was one simply titled ‘With a little “twist”‘ featuring chocolate and orange chicken tikka!! This must be unique to Meluha, right? It’s not often you bite into a piece of chicken and get flavours of dessert; it plays with your mind. Served on a plate with three tasty morsels of chicken, our favourite actually turned out to be the Mosch jerk chicken tikka. With juicy sauce just waiting to be injected via a small pippet, this was super flavoursome and moist (a horrible word I know, but in the chicken world this is the only descriptive option!) The final piece of chicken is flavoured with lemongrass and pepper. Do not be scared the incredible green colour, this is tasty!

Photo of three pieces of chicken
A play on the taste buds!

The starters all looked pretty exciting, but in the end we went for the Meluha Prawns. A snazzy plate of cocktail glasses filled with different prawn options to excite the taste buds, First up: Prawn Bloody Mary with mango caviar. Confuzzled at first at how to consume this dish without a spoon, we were quickly advised that you just drink it! I didn’t really understand the addition of mango caviar myself, but loved the spicy tomato with the prawns. Prawn wasabi cocktail was delicious! The extra hit of wasabi turned this classic dish into something much more snazzy! In Meluha’s own special style, a lemon foam topped this dish adding a zingy edge to cut through the heat of wasabi. My personal favourite was the Prawn Balchao with soldiers. More traditional in Indian flavours, I could have eaten a massive of dish of these.

A welcome treat at this point was a little palette cleanser of pink grapefruit sorbet. Served in a shot glass, this taster was the perfect refreshment on the tongue ready for the spice to come!

From chapter 3 on the menu (the main dishes) it starts to become a little more like what you might expect from an Indian menu. Taking advice from our fabulous server Abbas, we went for a biryani and curry option. The prawn biryani was my first experience of this type of Indian dish and I feel I have now set the bar too high for life as this would be tough to ever beat. Succulent prawns in super flavoursome rice with a tasty sauce that did not blow my head off. Highly recommend! Now be warned that they use proper chillies rather than chilli powder and consequently the curries can be a little bit spicier than our taste buds are used to. Use the chilli rating with caution! Our choice of wild garlic and chilli chicken curry had a spice rating of two chillies and was too much for my wimpish taste-buds, but absolutely perfect spicing for my dinner date who is a bit more hardy with his spice. The rosemary and chicken tikka naan bread was too tempting to not order on the side. They even do a chocolate naan bread!!

Prawn biryani served in the pan
Is there a better biryani out there? I predict not!

Alongside this wonderful food, we also had fab service from Abbas. Friendly, entertaining and gave us lots of tips and what to order from the menu. He even rightly guided us away from the Tikka Masala ice cream for dessert. After trying a cheeky sample, it does not fit with the dessert taste-buds for me – I can definitely see how it would work in a main course though.

Should you order too much (which we always do as there are always too many exciting things to choose from a menu) do not fear as you can take home a doggy bag, complete with instructions on how to get the best from your curry the next day. This advice meant we had room for a little dessert. A little taster of the rose and chocolate ice cream was scrummy, with flavours of Turkish delight.

Now, this is definitely more expensive than your average Indian: starters are £6 – 8 and mains range from £12 – £20 for meaty curry (cheaper for veggie) not including rice and sides. If you want to try something completely new and want to celebrate food for an evening then this place is definitely worth the extra pennies! I absolutely loved Meluha and am massively impressed with what they are doing. This is just the introductory menu as well, so I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the future!

Website: www.meluha.co.uk

Twitter: @MeluhaBristol

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