It is clear that, given the unprepossessing frontage of the restaurant which resides on the first floor of a non-descript building in Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff, the Purple Poppadom is a bit of a connundrum - a well kept but open secret. Walking up the stairs into the soothing purple decor, we were met swiftly and ushered politely to our seats. Given the searing heat in Cardiff on Saturday night, the air conditioning was just the right temperature (nothing worse than sitting under a blasting aircon unit or actually getting chilly!).
The restaurant's Chef, multi award winning Anand George had just launched the summer menu, "Ocean". From Kerala in Southern Indian, Chef George has worked in many of the prestigious 5 star restaurants in Mumbai, and is a winner of the Tiffin Cup for the UK's Best Indian Cuisine, awarded by the House of Commons.
Largely unaware of this, hubby and I were about to be very surprised.
We started with "The Streets of Mumbai" - three mini taste explosions which included Aloo Tikki (potato cake served on a bed of spiced chickpeas), tangy puffed rice salad with tamarind chutney and the amazing Bombay Chat (described as a "pop in the mouth semolina pastry snack filled with yoghurt and homemade chutney, topped with gram flour vermicelli) - a taste 'bomb' of Indian flavours.
The Streets of Mumbai Starter
Even the chutneys which accompanied our poppadoms (crisp without any oily residue) were full of subtle flavours. The raita was not the usual heavy handed mix of yoghurt and mint but a delicate and zesty minty dip which complemented the crispness of the poppadom without rendering it soggy.
Happy Hubby & Poppadoms
And so to the main course. I had Chef George's wonderful signature dish - "Tiffin Seabass", the dish which won the Tiffin Cup - described as "sea bass pan seared and served on a bed of curry leaf infused mash potato; in a tongue tickling raw mango, ginger and coconut sauce with beetroot pachadi".
The combination of flavours in this dish was spectacular. The fish was cooked to perfection, melt in the mouth with the flesh falling easily away from the skin with not a hint of dryness. The mashed potato was a refreshing change from rice and the sauce was a perfect blend of exotic flavours.
Hubby had the Murgh Chatpata Kolaphur, described as "from Kolaphur in Maharashtra, boneless chicken with a thick tangy onion, tomato, fenugreek leaves and lemon juice.
Murgh Chatpata Kolaphur
A deceptively spicy curry with subtle flavours and a developing heat, the chicken was moist and tender whilst the sauce was fresh and natural.
We finished our meal with coffee and the bill totaled around £70 including drinks. There is a selection of delicious desserts on offer, including Chocomosa Anand, Chef's signature dish of a" light crispy pastry parcel filled with a melted Belgian chocolate ganache, served with home made vanilla ice cream" which is now on my 'to do' list for our next visit.
We will certainly be returning to sample more of some of the most authentic and delicious Indian cuisine we've ever come across (without travelling to India!).
[I was not paid for this review and the views expressed are all my own].
The Purple Poppadom is situated at 185a Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff. Tel: 02920 220026. www.purplepoppadom.com.