Restaurant review: Tanjore
Tamil restaurant's menu uplifted by fresh, appealing food
Regional cuisine isn’t just the preserve of Tuscany or Andalucia, as Donald Reid finds in an engaging new Tamil restaurant in Edinburgh
It isn’t hard to find an Indian restaurant in Edinburgh or Glasgow, but it can be hard to find one with a difference. Certainly, the tapas- or thali-style of small dishes has modernised the style of eating in some, and there are elements of regionalisation in Pakistani, Punjabi and Nepalese restaurants, though even the best of these hedge their bets with popular curries from all areas of the sub-continent – and none, in the case of balti or tikka masala.
So, rather than feeling at sea when confronted with a menu offering no bhunas, jalfrezis or tandooris, there’s immediately a sense of freshness and intrigue when you cast your eye over Tanjore’s homely bill of fare. Owner Boon Ganeshram has run a stall in recent years at the Edinburgh Mela, and has now taken things forward with the opening of Tanjore, named after the ancient city in Tamil Nadu in southeast India.
Boon’s star turn are her dosai, the two-feet wide crepes made from a ground lentil and rice batter, served with fresh chutneys and a daal-like vegetable dip called sambar, often curled around a serving of potato, vegetable or, less typically, meat curry. Like French crepes or granny’s pancakes, dosai are fantastic minutes after coming off the hot stove, but head downhill thereafter — and anything out of a package is tired, artificial and chewy. It’s typical street food in south India, its simplicity belied only by the spicing in the accompaniments, which feature subtle, aromatic blends of curry leaves, tamarind, mustard seeds, fresh mint and coconut, to name only the most prominent.
Along with the dosai there are other freshly cooked staples including uthappam (a thicker, fluffier pancake), idli (steamed batter cakes), and vadai (a deep-fried lentil-flour doughnut). There are curries, of course, but it’s a short, appealing selection from South India including a fish dish from Kerala and Karaikudi curry featuring star aniseed, fennel and coconut milk. And, as if to complete the sense of welcome and homeliness of the family-run affair, there’s both a dedicated kids’ menu (rarely seen in Indian restaurants) and some proper desserts including paniyaram rice cakes flavoured with saffron, cardamom and pistachios.
+ A menu uplifted by fresh, appealing food
- Plain, matter-of-fact interior
6–8 Clerk Street, Edinburgh EH8 9HX
0131 478 6518
Mon–Fri noon–2.30pm, 5–10pm; Sat/Sun noon–10pm
Ave. price two-course meal: £7.95 (set lunch) / £14 (dinner)