Last time I was at Shampan in Kent it was a very sunny and bright summer afternoon and I remember O.D ‘ing on the cocktails and accompanying papad. This time around we were all wrapped up with the gentle early autumn sunshine playing peek-a-boo with the looming grey clouds hovering above.
This British Curry Award-winning, large and modern flagship outlet is very popular amongst its patrons in the local area and has recently launched a New A la Carte Menu.
We managed to make it in the nick of time what with delayed trains on the Southern line. On much insistence from the eager waiting staff I gave in decided to choose a cocktail over a mocktail (Not that I needed much convincing !)
An adaptation of the porn star martini this one packs a punch is in my opinion a great accompaniment to the Basil Scented Tiger Prawns with Desi Honey and Pepper Vinaigrette starter.
Encouraged by the brilliant taste of the first cocktail my defences completely crumbled and I had to sample the Lychee martini which was brilliant.
Chef Sadek’s assorted grilled Hor’s d’oeuvres with Paneer, king prawn, chicken, lamb, salad and a relish is ideal for sharing and is a great way to a variety of different meats and vegetables on one platter. Presented on a slate tray this appetiser was quite popular around the table.
The onset of colder weather always makes me crave a flavourful meat curry and the Hyderabadi spiced lamb with pilau rice was really tempting. The Shampan group prides itself on sourcing most of their ingredients locally and this main is made by slow cooking marinated Kentish lamb shank. The meat takes up all the rich flavours of the marinade and is fall of the bone soft, topped with moreish roasted vegetables it tastes great with a comforting side of flavoured pilau rice. I was quite fascinated by the thin slivers of okra used as a garnish which were flavoured with a light masala mix and flash-fried to make them absolutely delicious, crunchy and a far cry from the usual homely version of okra that we are used to.
The mister decided to try the Slow braised leg of kentish lamb ‘salli’ with straw potatoes with biryani rice for his mains because the salli bit reminded us both of grand Parsi meals we have enjoyed over the years especially at Parsi weddings and Navjote ceremonies.
The assembly is very well- thought of with the juicy slow cooked lamb resting on mince and a fried onion surrounded by a thick aromatic gravy with perfectly done basmati rice biryani topped with wafer thin sliver of potatoes deep fried – just the right crunch to garnish a fabulous main.
Some of the dishes that the other guests enjoyed were Punjabi red spiced chicken breast served with sautéed spinach, pilau rice and Kerala spiced king prawns tempered with curry leaf and served with a thick coconut milk sauce accompanied with coconut rice.
The naan platter was fabulous too and the pipping off naans disappeared almost as soon as the basket was set down.
The dessert platter was grand affair with gajar halwa and an ice cream resting on a bed of crushed crunchy biscuit base and a beautifully fresh whole fig on the side.
Executive Chef Sadek Miah has created an truly delightful new menu with exciting and bold combinations with keeping in mind classic Indian recipes. The results are visually stunning, beautifully presented palate pleasing dishes that are sure to become very popular. The venue itself is very charming and a would make a great day out in the “Garden of England” not just for dinning out but as a party or celebration venue. The bar and main dining area at the Tamarind Room offers a spacious dining area done up in muted colours comfortable lattice wood chairs. Perfect for quite, intimate moments whereas the Caraway overlooks the garden and is bright and airy.
Shampan even caters for private functions with a dedicated space – the Saffron Room – a plush setting with it’s own huge bar and a generously proportioned classy function room.
Don’t leave without a cup of coffee to wash down all those spices, a great way to round off a superb meal.
*With thanks to Humayun Hussain and Shampan Group for an invite. All opinions expressed are as always my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.