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Dinner At Haveli Indian Restaurant In Chilwell, Nottingham

Published On Sunday 3 Mar 2024 by Sticky Beak
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We’ve been busy little bods lately - just how we like it! – and this particular evening saw us winging our way to one of Nottingham’s suburbs, Chilwell, to visit Haveli Indian, thanks to the kind invitation of Gaurav. Now before you all think “another Indian restaurant”, let me tell you that Haveli is a little bit extra; this is a fine dining restaurant with some unique dishes on offer. The current owners have only taken over Haveli four months or so, and are keen to spread the word about their offering and to garner their own reputation – the previous business doesn’t always have great ratings on social media sites, just FYI in case you are looking!

Outside the venue itself, parking is limited (space for 9 cars), but there is plenty of free on-road parking in the immediate vicinity. As we approached the entrance, one of the team opened the door; a nice touch that set the tone for the evening. We checked-in and were offered for our coats to be hung up before being shown over to our table by Gaurav himself.

Haveli is a large, open-plan restaurant but it has a welcoming feel thanks to clever use of artwork, foliage and a warm colour palate for the décor. At a rough estimate, I would say that there’s seating for about 90 people (children are very welcome), and I liked the privacy space between the tables; even the ones with banquette seating were afforded the same distance as the free-standing ones. Each table was set with double cloths: a pristine white one underneath, and a rich Paprika –red one on top, decorated with fresh flowers in a vase, and the proper cloth napkins were fashioned into birds with tail plumage that trailed from the glasses they were set in. The warm spice tones of the cloths were echoed by the artwork and prints on the walls, and the eye was caught by a couple of feature prints of ladies in traditional Indian attire. Lighting was provided by recessed ceiling lights, and a very nice touch came when we were asked if we wanted the lighting adjusted above our table.

Gaurav came to take our drinks order, and no surprise when I tell you that His Nibs had a pint of Cobra! I opted for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, though there are plenty of other choices – both by the glass and the bottle. We also ordered some Poppadoms with Pickles and Chutneys to nibble at whilst we looked through the extensive food menu. Now, regular Indian restaurant-goers will know the pain that the Poppadom and Pickle Tray can cause: the tray of crispy Poppadoms and separate plate of dips can eat into available table space! Imagine my joy, then, when I clapped eyes on the all-in-one tray that the Haveli team utilises: the large section housed the ready-broken pieces of Poppadom and then a quartet of dinky pots was held on the edge by handles. These Chutney and Pickle pots were super-easy to manoeuvre, both picking up and popping back.

For starters we chose Sev Puri (£6.95), Kurkuri Bindi (£6.95) and our perennial fave, Papdi Chaat (£6.95). Each dish came on a different shaped and coloured platter; I really liked how the Haveli kitchen used their crockery to showcase their dishes to maximum visual effect, something they did at each course. When we were served our food, I noticed that white gloves were worn by the staff – something you expect in fine dining restaurants.

The Man Birds’ choice, Sev Puri, was not what he was expecting…but in a good way! When you see the word ‘Puri’ you expect a flat Puri bread, no? Well, this particular version is actually individual Puri’s, fashioned into little spheres and filled with spiced Potato; Chutneys and Yoghurt are drizzled over the top, and a final garnish is provided by Gram-flour Vermicelli and fresh Herbs. Gaurav advised The Man Bird that the best way to savour these morsels is to pop them into the mouth whole; no second bidding was needed! As the flavours flooded over his palate, His Nibs grinned like the proverbial Cheshire Cat in happiness, quickly followed by my own smile as I pinched one to try.

My Kurkuri Bindi was julienned Okra that was coated in a spice-pimped, gram flour batter before being deep-fried to crispy moreishness; a bit like Indian Tempura. There was a separate pot of tangy Tamarind sauce and its sharpness had a gorgeous smoky hint that not only cut through the batters’ richness, but complimented it, too. This was an unusual starter, and one that I was very glad that I’d tried.

Our final starter, Papdi Chaat, didn’t disappoint, providing everything you could want, sensorially: crunch, softness, warmth, coolness, sweetness and umami. Chickpeas form the base of this popular Indian street food snack, and are paired with vermicelli strands, pieces of breads and different chutneys, herbs and spices. If you haven’t tried Chaat before – and there are lots of types to choose from – then I encourage you to do so; you can thank me later!

Before we had our main course, a lovely lady came to with her crumb-duster. To ensure that the table was spotless and prepared for the next dishes; another fine dining touch. I was offered the Haveli Special Thali (£19.95 per person), which is normally only served on Sunday to try, so I took advantage of this opportunity, and The Man Bird ordered Lamb Chettinad  (£14.95)as his main dish, along with some Lemon Rice (£3.95) and Garlic Coriander Naan (£3.95). I asked if I could also have the same Naan and Jeera (Cumin) Rice to go with my Thali, rather than the plain ones that come as standard: Gaurav kindly let me, bless him.

A Thali is an absolutely banging idea, in my opinion; it really is a complete meal, but one that allows you to sample several dishes. In the centre of my metal Thali platter was a large timbale of Cumin Rice, quartered Naan Bread, and Piece of Poppadom, surrounded by a mixed vegetable pickle and fresh Cucumber, and several dishes of varying curries and even a bowl of Gulab Jamun – can you imagine the look on His Nibs’ mush as he spotted that? Murderous, LOL!!! After demolishing the Poppadom, I turned my attention to the Tandoori Chicken Tikka, which was superb; the poultry was succulent and perfectly spiced. Butter Chicken was exactly that, bathed in a rich Tomato and Cream sauce, and the Cod in the Bhuna sauce was a complete delight to eat. One of the benchmarks I use to judge the quality of an Indian restaurant is a Lamb dish, and the Haveli Lamb is well worth a try! Each large piece of Lamb was tender and juicy, with a deep sweet-yet-earthy flavor that permeated the sauce it bathed in.

In fact, one of the things that I really should mention is the fact that each dish on my Thali had a distinct taste to it, rather than the curries just being indistinguishable. Although they were delicious, none of the curries had been lip tingling in their spice level; however, if you want things ramping up, just ask your server and they’ll gladly accommodate your request. Bombay Aloo/ Potato were also on my platter, and I do love this spud-based dish, so I was very happy to discover that the Haveli interpretation is a wonderfully, multi-layered one – my taste buds were dancing gleefully.

My initial plan was to keep the Gulab Jamun to myself but, when I saw the [frankly] pathetic look of longing coming from across the table, I caved and passed it over to an extremely grateful Man Bird! Wife of the Year award should definitely be coming my way, I reckon! My lack of dessert was worth it, though, to see the sheer joy on His Nibs’ face as he gobbled up the sweet, fried balls of dough and their accompanying sugar syrup; he said it was utterly scrummy as he put the spoon down.

Lamb Chettinad is a dish from Southern India, and it has a curious mix of ground Coconut, Black pepper and Curry Leaves in its sauce, which had The Man intrigued. Thanks to the ground Coconut, the sauce was beautifully thick, making it perfect to scoop up with the Naan Breads (which, incidentally, were the best we’ve had!), and the Lamb chunks were super-tender, melting in the mouth. You couldn’t fail to appreciate the fantastic fusion of flavours here; the sweet Lamb danced with notes of spice, sharp, earthy and ‘piney’ hints from the Curry Leaves. This really was an exquisite dish, bravo, Chef. His Nibs’ Lemon Rice also complimented the Lamb Chettinad well; the clean citrus element didn’t over-power the curry at all, it merely formed another layer of flavour for the palate to appreciate.

Throughout our meal, members of the Haveli team had checked we were enjoying our food and ensuring that we had plenty to drink, including chilled water with Lemon slices in. At the end of our main course, the lady that had ‘de-crumbed’, came over with those lemony hot towels, and we inhaled the aroma as we cleansed our hands.

Our tummies were full – the Haveli team doesn’t skimp on their portion sizes! -  so we skipped dessert, but did have a black coffee (£2.95) and Indian Masala Chai/Tea (£3.95). Another nice touch was that my first cup of Chai was poured from the white pot for me; I know, it’s the little things that make all the difference to an experience.

So, would we go back to Haveli in Chilwell? You bet we would! As well as the Thali (usually served only on Sunday), they offer a set menu at £25.95pp that allows diners to experience a range of different dishes, midweek and there are also live-music evenings with two-course set menus – if this is your thing, then visit the website www.havelifinedining.co.uk  for more details. Gaurav is hoping to have a specifically vegan menu available in a months’ time, so keep your eyes peeled for that as well. You can book a table online if you wish, or ring the restaurant on 0115 922 7778. Until the end of April 2024, you will get a 10% discount on your total bill (including drinks) if you quote ‘STICKY BEAK’ when booking!!. This excludes Friday and Saturday, Bank Holidays and ‘Occasion’ days such as Easter and Mother’s day, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers.

Hot Wings very happily given to this marvelous, fine-dining Indian establishment.

Some form of incentive was provided to visit this venue read more

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