SquareMeal Review of Kahani
Peter Joseph is the latest brave soul to try his luck with this challenging site tucked behind Cadogan Hall (RIP Le Cercle and Canvas), though as the former head chef of Tamarind in Mayfair, he already knows a thing or two about enticing well-heeled customers into basement dining rooms.
Kahani’s website describes how Joseph wanted to fuse Indian recipes with British ingredients and Spanish-sized portions of tapas, though when the staff asked the inevitable question of whether we were familiar with the menu’s concept, this information was not forthcoming; a shame, as advance knowledge of the Indian-European approach would be a useful preparation for the restrained spicing in much of what we ate.
While we enjoyed pairs of chubby lamb chops, cigar-shaped seekh kebabs and chunks of chicken tikka, we weren’t left with the impression of eating food that tasted especially Indian; better, perhaps, to instead order dishes such as creamy butter chicken, silky tarka dal or slow-cooked lamb shank that rely on richness of flavour for effect and can be scooped up with excellent breads, warm from the tandoor oven.
Prices reflect the Sloane Street location, although on our visit, some of the well-meaning staff lacked the knowledge and polish to back that up, and while the high-ceilinged space looks glitzy, not all of the finishes bear close scrutiny. Basement dining rooms are a hard sell at the best of times, and even Belgravia diners want bang for their buck.
Kahani, which translates to ‘story’ in Hindi, is where Michelin-starred chef Peter Joseph is adding the latest chapter to the tale of Britain’s love affair with Indian cuisine. Located in the heart of Chelsea, opposite Cadogan Hall, Kahani blends low-lit interiors with a classy, but unpretentious dining experience. The setting is modern but luxurious, with white walls and crockery standing out against the royal blue of the booth seating.
When it comes to the menu, the very best seasonal British ingredients are brought to life with fragrant spices and crafted using traditional Indian cooking methods. Peter Joseph is keen to make Indian fine dining more communal and less formal, while remaining true to his Chennai heritage, so guests can expect plenty of sharing dishes.
There are a whole host of menus to choose from, so depending on what time of day you visit, your dietary preferences/restrictions and what you’re in the mood for, you could be tucking into anything from bottomless brunch to vegan biryani. Kahani offers an entire vegan menu, so rather than one or two suitable dishes, anyone who has chosen to meat- and dairy-free can select from a three-course menu with plenty of options for each course.
Kahani also offers a pre-theatre menu for those planning to catch a show nearby, and a tasting menu for diners looking to enjoy a leisurely meal with plenty of courses. Weekend bottomless brunch comprises a three-course meal with free-flowing prosecco, while the restaurant’s weekend roast menu includes a twist on the traditional with mains such as slow-cooked Somerset lamb shank with browned onions and Kashmiri spices, and tandoori roasted free-range chicken with Kashmiri chillies.
Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed either, as Kahani’s pudding menu involves all sorts of inventive desserts, from a chilli chocolate mousse bomb with gulab jamun bits to tandoori pineapple with coconut flavoured steamed yoghurt.