To try to refine the search for a unique Indian restaurant from the hundreds of standard take-aways and post-pub grub joints is a task of great difficulty.
All the more so when you try to exclude bank-breaking central London locations and so I was delighted to have found the award-winning Namada, whose handsome owner Saif aims to provide an inclusive, warm environment and maintain the restaurants community feel.
He states: “Our aim is to make every client an integral part of our restaurant, thus creating an on-going and healthy bond with our customers”.
This was indeed conducive with the friendly and informative staff who told us all about the background of their food and decor.
Located in a convenient area of Wandsworth, Namada offers a spacious and authentically decorated interior with their back wall illustrative of the story of Mughal Emperors who in ancient courtly tradition treated cuisine as an art and emphasised traditional elements of a meal including hospitality, a generous open kitchen as well as ritualistic cleansing and appreciation ceremonies before eating.
The spirit of veneration of food is not just captured in the furnishings but also signifies the ethos of the restaurant and their motto ‘Indian culinary art’.
As well as this strong influence of tradition, Namada has added an extra edge to their cooking and regards innovation as their distinguishing characteristic.
This is certainly an accurate claim and on the menu we found many unusual features including an extensive seafood focus. My guest and I were allowed to sample several different dishes starting with the Tandoori Scallops.
Described as 'fresh scallops marinated in a light lemon juice & coriander flavoured yoghurt Masala & cooked in the Tandoori style', these surprisingly filling morsels are a new favourite food of mine and expressed the distinctive mix of unusual spices that were characteristic of each dish that followed.
What we also noted was the lack of heavy oil that is often present in Indian sauces and we were informed that Namada used only natural ingredients to create the bright colours and distinctive flavours of the meals.
Out of the corner of my eye I spied a bright green piece of chicken on the next platter.
It was the most unusual colour I had seen in a restaurant and was soon advised that it came from the Hariyali spices made from all green vegetables like coriander, spinach and peas that gave the dish its name.
Slightly sweet yet hearty, the flavour of this Tikka was comfortably powerful whilst providing the additional childlike fun of eating something bright and pleasant looking and was my favourite main meal of the lot.
To contrast this we then tried some of the traditional Ragan Josh which we found had great depth to the taste and was an intense, healthy red colour mirroring its Kashmiri origins where the term ‘Josh’ means hot or passionate and Kashmiri peppers are used to provide the hue whilst keeping the flavour mild enough for my rather delicate feminine palate.
In the Kerala fish I looked for and successfully noted the attenuation of the ‘fishy’ taste with the appropriate sauce and variety of essences. The fish was finely blended into the rich sauce and was complemented by mixed rice which contained an assortment of vegetables and rice types.
All in all we were spoilt for choice at Namada and the exciting menu, hues and flavours make it a unique dining experience in an understated Wandsworth location.
Namada www.namada.co.uk/ 197-199 Replingham Road London SW18 5LY