There are wonderful Indian restaurants popping up all over the UK, especially in thriving capitals like Edinburgh, but how do you know which ones are worth a visit? Well, quality is certainly a key factor, but what many of us are really looking for is authenticity. The Raj has one of the most authentically Indian menus I have ever seen, and the quality is hard to surpass.
The restaurant is run by an Indian family who have set up their restaurants across the UK, and have settled in Edinburgh with a small, family friendly place that offers a truly amazing menu. I had Mother Butter Chicken, a traditional dish that we often (mistakenly) call Tikka Masala, that follows the Indian style of preparation with a gloss of butter to finish. My partner had Aunty Geeta’s Prawn Curry, tanged with nigella seed, green chilli, tomato, garden peas and mustard- truly amazing! I sampled both and it was hard to pick a favourite between them. So many Indian restaurants will make a neutral sauce and add the separate ingredients in, but here everything had been freshly prepared and the ingredients were carefully selected to complement one another.
We were lucky enough to visit during Diwali, the Indian celebration of light, which meant that we were in for an extra special night. There was live music throughout the night, keeping all the guests smiling and tapping their toes throughout the delicious meal. There was a complimentary dessert on offer as part of the festival, with a delicious range of Indian delicacies and my personal favourite, gulab jamun. Whilst I was polishing off this delicious meal, one of the family running the restaurant came over to offer me henna. She drew the most beautifully intricate henna over the back of my hand and wrist, which added another dimension to the dining out experience I hadn’t been expecting.
The whole meal was absolutely delicious, but I must say the highlight was actually the beginning of the evening. My partner and I shared the special Diwali platter, which really showed the culinary diversity The Raj has to offer. From the classic onion bhaji to snacks that were less well known to me, the range complimented one another perfectly and left me hungry for my main. The staff were all incredibly friendly, carefully talked us through the menu and warned us of anything that we might find too spicy. The flavours burst forth in everything that was presented, and my only regret was not being able to eat more of what was on offer.
The service was remarkably quick, but well-paced for comfort in between courses and time was allowed for a buzz of chatter to continue throughout the welcoming space. The restaurant may be placed slightly out of the way, but is still easily accessible from the centre of Edinburgh and is well worth a diversion. The quality of all the food and authenticity of the menu makes it a real gem amongst Indian restaurants and I look forward to returning to it soon.