I was reading an article the other day about parenting, and how we have become a nation of softies, giving into our children’s every whim. Food, or rather fussy eating, was at the core of the article. As all parents do, we went through the beige food phase. I’m pleased to say that at 11, our daughter has come out the other side and is now quite an adventurous diner who is a pleasure to take out for dinner. In recent months she has developed a taste for spice, and I’m not talking korma level spice. Sriracha hot sauce has replaced ketchup in our house and fiery buffalo wings are at the top of her most wanted list.
An invitation to dine at an Edinburgh Indian institution was one that was met with excitement by us all. A family meal out is always a pleasure, and this time, a chance to try some new spicy dishes. We all have our favourite Indian dishes, but it’s good to get outside of that comfort zone.
Despite committing to being adventurous, no Indian meal can begin without the obligatory poppadums and dips. The dip tray at The Raj is worthy of mention, a nice selection of five choices all in ample portion. Tuk Tuk should take their cue from The Raj as their dips are on the smaller side and there’s never enough.
To start we ordered the Lal Mirchi – marinated chicken breast mixed with bengal chutney, served on a crispy onion bhaji. It was far more tasty than the picture suggests.
Our second starter was Mysore Bonda – fried dumplings with coconut chutney. These reminded me very much of doughnuts, and while tasty, I wondered whether they weren’t better suited as a dessert. Nevertheless, we scoffed the lot.
We ordered three mains to share. First up, the classic Korma, our safe bet. I really enjoyed The Raj’s version of this dish. It was lighter and less rich than some I’ve had, but full of flavour.
The Tandoori Tiger Prawns were a touch disappointing. At £10.95 it was one of the most expensive dishes, however the portion size would not have been suitable for most – just six tiger prawns with a small side salad and sauce. The dish would have benefited from a side of naan bread. Apart from the portion issue, the prawns were also a little overcooked and the tandoori spices too plentiful, which killed the flavour a bit.
The Aromatic Lamb was another hit though. The lamb was falling apart and the spices blended to make a delicious flavoured curry that we all got stuck into.
The Raj didn’t appear to have a dessert menu as we, along with all the other guests, were offered a complimentary tasting plate of Indian desserts, along with tea, coffee and a liqueur. The tasting plate featured a type of soaked sponge, traditional Burfi, and something that tasted like fried bread topped with cream. It was a nice gesture but not really to our taste.
The Raj is somewhere you go because the curry is very very good. The service is a little brisk in places, but efficient, which is what you want when you’re out for a quick informal meal. Our advice – stick to your favourites and you won’t go far wrong. If we lived closer, The Raj would be a favourite take away option.
Location: 12 Hillhouse Road
Price: Mains £6.75 – £11.75
Good for: Traditional curry dishes