Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Authentic Indian half plates and full drinks at Talli Joe, London

One of the things I love most about living in London is the fact that there are always so many exciting new openings, from shops and gyms to bars and restaurants.

And one of the many perks of my job is getting to find out about the best new places on the scene. So today, folks, I'd like to share with you one of the best and most interesting new restaurants I've been fortunate enough to try out recently.

Say hello to Shaftesbury Avenue's newest Indian restaurant, Talli Joe!
Now I know what you may be thinking: Oh great, another place for tikka masala and onion bhajis. But no.

You guys, chicken tikka masala was invented in Glasgow. Yes, Glasgow in Scotland. I kid you not. It's not real Indian at all.

And at Talli Joe you won't find any of the dishes you see on the menus of Indian restaurants up and down the UK.

Talli means tipsy: "a happy intoxicated state of being, often rendering the legs useless." And I don't know about you but I have been known occasionally to enjoy being in such a state (please drink responsibly).
Talli Joe is all about 'half plates and full drinks'. So it's a bit like Indian tapas with lots of cocktails. What's not to love!?

There's an extensive cocktail menu where the drinks are split into North, East, South and West India, and between my dear friend Frankie and myself, we made sure to sample a fair few.

We were even given a little welcome drink as soon as we arrived - they really do want you to get talli!
Although I'm not usually a whisky fan, my fave cocktail was the Badnam Milk Punch, which was whisky, almond and cashew nut purée, saffron syrup and milk. So yeah, kind of like an alcoholic-and-less-thick-than-usual milkshake. It was super delicious.
I wish I could remember which other cocktails I had, but I can't. I realise that probably sounds like I got smashed, but I swear it's just because I wasn't planning on blogging about Talli Joe (which is also why I only have phone-quality pictures) so didn't take note. Soz, gang.

They're all served in pretty receptacles though.
While we waited for our main dishes to arrive, we nibbled on kela wafers (Keralan deep-fried peppered ribbons of dehydrated banana) and Joe's jhal muri, which is popular in Kolkata.
I really liked the wafers - they're like banana crisps but with a sprinkle of something spicy.

The jhal muri consists mainly of millet and puffed rice and takes three whole days to make!
There was an enjoyable mix of textures but being the tragic British girl that I am, I found it pretty spicy. Luckily we were offered a bowlful of lovely calming yogurt and the staff at least didn't judge us openly...
Now, the half plates are more like mini versions of complete meals - there were none which were just vegetables or rice, for example - and they were served as and when they were ready. In some ways I like this as you can take your time, but there were dishes I wanted to eat together that were served quite spread out which was a shame.

All the half plates are really interesting dishes though and miles away from your average Indian restaurant's offerings. There are quite a few fishy concoctions, but Frankie and I decided to stick with chicken and veggie ones because we're basic like that.
So let me show you what we ate!
This was the kale chaat, which is apparently popular street-food in Delhi. It's crispy fried kale with potato, pomegranate and sweet yoghurt and was utterly divine. Even Frankie, who generally turns her nose up at any food with even the vaguest health connotations, loved it. Tbh I wouldn't call the kale chaat particularly healthy but who even cares?

Next up, the dhokla salad.
This was steamed gram flour cakes, kohlrabi and nuts. I liked it. The gram flour cakes had a texture a bit like a cross between bread and sponge cake, and the mix of textures worked well. It was light and rather refreshing.

Then there was the Himalayan pulao: steamed wild rice with wild mushrooms. I know, wild.
The mushrooms I could take or leave, but the rice was really nice. So nice, in fact, that we asked for a second bowlful of rice by itself, not just to absorb some of the spice from the chicken, promise! (I don't even believe me either.)

Speaking of chicken, enter chicken 21.
This is Talli Joe's version of chicken 65: stir-fried chicken with spices and curry leaves. It was delightfully sticky but unfortunately just too spicy for me. Embarrassing.

Better, however, was the bohri chicken, served with a fenugreek flatbread.
I realise it doesn't look particularly appetising in the picture, but this was really delicious.

My absolute favourite dish though? Well, it was this here cheesy carby fella (what a surprise...)
I'm not sure if the staff forgot but we did have to wait a little while for the naan unfortunately. Aside from that though the service was faultless and all the staff were charming.

Anyway, you are drooling over looking at a truffle ghee kulcha, which is naan bread stuffed with cottage cheese and brushed with truffle ghee. I KNOW! It was ludicrously tasty. My God.

Wow, I really am so basic.

However, I did push the boat out a little bit when it came to pudding.
Baked yoghurt with seasonal berries, eh? Very tasty, nothing too kerrazy there.

But what's that unappealing-looking black mush there? Well, you'll never guess this one, chums.

Said black mush is in fact heritage black carrots with salted peanut brittle.

CARROTS!? I know!

Yup, my sweet tooth is as wild as that rice.

It. Was. Unbelievable. Unbelievably delicious, that is. I think the waiter said something about the carrots being cooked in cream and sugar and all sorts of unhealthy stuff, but oh my days, it was worth it.

I don't know how, but it tasted like sticky toffee pudding, with an almost mincemeat-esque (as in the mince pie filling) texture. With the crunch of the salty peanuts, it was absolute perfection.

No doubt about it, the carrots and that naan were the highlight of my dinner. Oh, and the milky cocktail.

Please go, get talli, order the naan, and even if you're full, finish with the carrots. Just take my word for it and thank me later.

I was a guest at Talli Joe but I genuinely loved it which is why I decided to share my experience with you all, obvs.

PS. Sorry for the general craposity of these pictures. The food looks better IRL. Trust.


  1. Love your London foodie reviews! Beth xx

  2. Lovveee your foodie visits! P.s how do you still stay so fit!? Please share your secret!!

    Samantha xx

    1. Thank you, Samantha. And between you and me, I'm not as fit as I once was! x


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