The Nu Delhi Lounge (25 Bruce St, Belfast, BT2 7JD) was not the First Choice Belfast Curry Venue. However with Serendipity once more in vogue, it turned out to be perfect for our purposes. This weekend, Marg and Hector find ourselves in charge of Eleven Young Ladies on a Hockey Trip to Ireland, what could possibly go wrong?
We checked the Venue out last night and made the booking for Thirteen at 20.15. I was keen to ensure that there would be no surprises as happened on the equivalent night last year when an Aberdeen Curry House hit us with a Group Surcharge. The Chap we spoke to last night, Robbie, assured us that although there is a 10% Service Charge, this is Discretionary. The On-line Menu states this at the foot.
We planned to Tip at that rate anyway. Hands were shaken, all was well.
The Giant’s Causeway has to be mentioned, Hector’s First Venture this far North. Vodafone became the enemy by telling me I was abroad and charging me thus.
I am still in the United Kingdom.
Sadly, there is still too much evidence of the other on-goings…
We climbed the stairs at the appointed time and were shown to a table which was remote from the remainder of the room. As my eyes became accustomed to the semi-darkness, I could see a large Bar in the distance and the source of the Live Music, a Doris, in the distance still. These premises are indeed large. As the Nu Delhi calls itself a Lounge as well as a Restaurant, I was left to speculate how many folk would come here to Drink and Relax rather than Dine. We were here To Dine.
Taking our seats and passing round the Menus, a Chap emerged from the Kitchen, his Ear wired up to who knows where. He, The Kitchen Manager would turn out to be the most memorable part of the evening.
Are these all Yours?
Yes, I was very busy One Night!
The Menu stated clearly that Poppadoms were 90p each and the Chutney Tray was £2.50. Knowing our Young Charges were on a Budget I wished to ensure that there was no Poppadom Orgy which piled £30.00 on to the Bill. The advice was taken.
The Curry Order
I was asked by One of the Young Ladies what made a Bad Curry. Anything with Chicken – was my immediate reply, knowing full well that unless we had Vegetarians on board, nobody would be ordering anything else. The exceptions of course would Marg and Hector – Lamb required.
I had to take advice from the Young Waitress, Three Dishes were possibilities. The Desi Karahi Lamb, Lamb Punjabi Masala were the more likely, with Lamb Achari as fall-back. In search of the Hector Ideal, the Waitress assured me that the Desi Karahi would be closest to my Desire – Cooked in onion, pepper in garam masala, garlic and coriander. It was agreed the Capsicum would not appear, though she did not take my Alternative Vegetable request seriously.
With the Tandoori Roti at £2.30, the Coriander Naan at £2.70 had to be the better deal. Surely?
Marg, on Hector’s Right, turned the clock back on the very weekend when they go forward – Lamb Rogan Josh. Jeera Rice, 75p more than Plain for sprinkling in some Cumin Seeds, would be her Accompaniment, though she was already discussing how much of the Hector Naan may come her way.
Kim on Hector’s left, and a Veteran of these Trips chose Chicken Patia with a Plain Naan. Beyond this life was becoming complicated. Sharing a Curry? Lucy1, sitting diagonally opposite Kim would be sharing her Meal. Rebecca and Kirsty, Two more Veterans, were to share a Butter Chicken and Peshwari Naan.
The Two Fionas would also share a Butter Chicken and Peshwari Naan but with the addition of a Pilau Rice. Now it is complicated. Hannah chose Butter Chicken, I think Marg had an input here, and would share a Jeera Rice and Peshwari Naan with Lucy2 who went for Chicken Tikka Madras. Madras, eh? Fun to be had here.
Laura was another Chicken Patia, this time with Peshwari Naan, and there had to be One…
Hannah and Robyn brought up the rear with the inevitable Chicken Korma to share, accompanied by Boiled Rice and Pilau Rice respectively. Thirteen Diners and only Nine Portions of Curry. I had thought about adding an Jeera Aloo as a Side, but after a Hearty Lunch, decided against this, to my sorrow.
The In-between Bit
This Mass of Curry and Accompaniments should not just magically appear, and so we settled down to the acceptable wait. Live Music in a UK Curry house was somewhat novel. The Music was never intrusive despite our proximity to the corner speakers. The Soft Drinks arrived, The same Bottle of Sparkling Water (750ml) was a good bit cheaper here than at lunchtime. Most had Tap Water. Lucy2 likes a Slice of Lemon in her Tap Water.
Mein Host, The Kitchen Manager, brought out the majority of the Curry Dishes. He complained that in the light, or lack of it, all the Dishes looked the same. Mine was last, the Far End was served First. I should have ordered the Jeera Aloo Side.
With the abundance of Spring and Chicken, the weight of this review will be distorted by those who find possibly even Korma to be Spicy. Hannah and Robyn did find their Korma (share) to be Mild and so enjoyed it. The Butter Chicken must have had a Kick. Kirsty coped whilst Rebecca found it to be too Spicy. One Fiona admitted to not normally eating Curry but described her Butter Chicken (share) as – Really Good.
Moving up to the Chicken Patia, Robyn – Extremely enjoyed it, Laura found it to be – Superb!, whilst Kim appreciated the – Mixture of Spice and Creaminess, a Balance.
There is an Excellent Chicken Patia Recipe on the this Well-known and Reliable Curry website, and it does not contain Cream. Cooking this was probably the last time I cooked Chicken Curry for myself.
Lucy2’s Chicken Tikka Madras was sampled by a Few at the far end of the table. One could hear the Gasps of Despair. The Butter Chicken Mob were not ready for this. Lucy2 enjoyed her Meal and did find it Spicy. She has had Curry before, one can tell.
One thing should already be apparent to The Curryspondents, Hector would never have ordered any of the above and avoids Plates of Soup as if they were The Plague. However, one hopes in time the Young Ladies will leave the Beginner’s Curry behind them.
Marg remarked on the Creaminess of her Rogan Josh. When this Dish was first encountered back in the 1980s it was always Tomato-rich. Now many Recipes include Cream as standard. This is not the Curry which was Hector’s Staple Diet at The Akash.
There was a consensus that the Breads provided were Small compared to Glasgow. Average – was about the best comment, I didn’t record anyone enthuse about their Naan. Nor would Hector.
Ahmed, my Islamabad Curryspondent, was quick to nominate the Nu Delhi as the most likely Venue to find Decent Curry in Belfast. There are no known Curry Cafés in Belfast, One has to accept that The Mainstream prevails. The above Curry Comments are at least favourable. The Ladies mostly received what they expected.
The Lamb Desi Karahi
The Lamb Desi Karahi was topped with Two Slices of Red Capsicum. I suspect this was to identify it. The Onion content was such that the Lamb was masked. The Curry was at least far removed from the Soup served to everyone else. Initially I thought the Portion Size to be ridiculously Small, but in the end – Modest – feels fair. There was not a lot of Meat in this Curry for the price charged. What Lamb there was gave pleasure, more when a couple of pieces were located at the base of the Dish. Flavours were at a premium. This was not a Complicated Curry, there was a source of the Kick. Initially I suspected Black Pepper, but then I deduced something Redder.
The Very Thin Naan did little to add to the Overall Experience. I was soon on the Final Quarter and had to eke it out to finish the Onions.
This was Curry, it was far from Outstanding.
We were here To Dine
Normally The Bill appears at this location, however, the Night was still young. Our Friendly Manager returned to chat up the Ladies. A Magic Trick was conducted featuring the assistance of Hector and Marg. It was evident that we were under no pressure to leave despite occupying significant space.
Realising that The Ladies were eligible as Diners, a few Cocktails and even Mocktails were ordered. Some to share. How embarrassing. Somewhere in the clearing up the final drips of my Sparkling Water were swept away. Hector the Martyr.
The concept of Nu Delhi as a Lounge now prevailed. One could now see people coming here for an evening of relatively peaceful relaxation compared to the Pubs in this part of town.
£167.35. Crazy. The pile of Cash featured Three different Scottish Bank Notes, Two Irish and the ubiquitous English.
There was the realisation that Everyone had a pleasant evening. The Staff certainly went out of their way to make it so.