Ahead of the big trip, my best buddies thought we’d meet up to discuss future business ventures. Fortunately enough, we all fancied a curry, so headed to the newest curry house around, Bengal Diner, just outside of Colchester.
Colchester has been starved of a good curry house for quite some time. I’m sure you’ll agree this is absolute sacrilege for any town. Sadly, when my favourite curry house in Colchester started using Cheddar as their paneer I gave up all hope, until now.
The building Bengal Diner is housed in has had a number of businesses occupying over the years, from a straight up pub to a Mexican cantina, all of which have sadly failed within the dreaded 6 month period of opening. BD seems to be going strong though. I’ve been in before to pick up a take away and on many occasions i’ve had conversations with other collectors about how there’s nowhere good to eat INSIDE Colchester now, and this place does very well, and more importantly CONSISTENTLY well.
So, me and my buddies sat down over a pint of Bangla beer and perused the menu. So lets start with the beer…
It’s such a nice change from the traditional Cobra/Kingfisher array you see at any curry house. Bangla is a lager, but a really nice fruity lager, that goes excellently with curry. It isn’t that far off the generic lagers you see anywhere, but it’s a nice change.
Now onto the main discussion point, what we ate!
The array at BD is impressive. The expected curries are there but there’s also a nice array of specialities you don’t see everywhere, including a number of Keralan inspired dishes (I say inspired because they aren’t authentic, and they openly admit this). However every dish i’ve ordered at BD in the past has been a delight.
We all agreed we’d go starters and mains, and a couple of sides. To start, we had the classics to really test the water; prawn puri (times two, because why not), a Nagris Kebab (effectively a spiced lamb mince dish wrapped in an omelette) and a Shami Kebab. Now, a tell tale sign of a crap curry house is when everything tastes very similar. The ‘base curry’ is the same across the board, and everything has similar spicing. BD was not doing this clearly. The puri was beautifully cooked in the tandoor, and the prawn itself was delicately spiced with a lovely lemon kick at the end. Likewise with the lamb dishes; very similar but also very different. These definitely set the night going in the right direction.
Now with mains. I came to the realisation that every time I come here, I get the same thing (my classic for judging a curry house), a Dhansak. I love Dhansak because of the complexity of flavour and texture; literally every curry house you go to will do it differently, but all should be spicy (heat), with a decent tamarind sour kick, a nice thick gravy from the vegetable and daal base, and tandoor cooked meats. So I ordered different tonight, and went for a King prawn Jalfrezi. We all agreed to share everything, and had a Chicken Tikka Dhansak (I managed to persuade someone else to eat that, so I win), a South Indian Garlic Lamb, and a Zinga Delight (no idea what that is, but who cares). As sides, we had fried Okra, Saag Paneer, and Tarka Daal (another classic test of a good house).
Lets just start by saying everything was superb. I genuinely couldn’t fault anything except how the prawns in the Jalfrezi were cooked. Everything tasted sublime, and like it had truly been made with love. My winner of the night was definitely the south indian garlic, which is like no traditional Bangladeshi curry you’ll normally see or eat around the UK.
So, we were happy. Very very happy. And even with a stonking bill (we drank far too much beer) we were still happy. It’s fantastic to see such a great curry house around this area again, and i’m so happy to see it on my doorstep. It was also great to see it so busy (i.e. absolutely packed) at 8pm; i’m so happy others are starting to see how good this place is.
I look forward to returning after my time in India with a greater knowledge of PROPER curry, so I can critique again then.
If you want to see for yourself, here’s there website, and here’s their Tripadvisor page. Obviously it’s worth avoiding the music nights which don’t appear to go down too well….