Review: Spice is right at The Raj

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The Raj Restuarant, Hillhouse Road, Edinburgh

The pursuit of a reliable, tasty, trustworthy Indian eatery is relentless.

The mixed grill

The mixed grill

Attempting to harness some of those wayward curry searching souls is new kid on the restaurant-bereft north west of Edinburgh block – The Raj.

Ideally located for inbound or outbound Fifers, it is in Blackhall, just after Queensferry Road and the surrounding suburbia maze means parking is not a consideration.

And neither is space. The dining area is light, bright and big. Which you would assume would mean booking ahead is not vital but I would definitely hazard caution here.

So stark and limited are the eating spots in this area that the mass of disposable income just vying for a meal out meant that by 6pm – seriously – on a Friday night, it was packed.

The Raj has been propping up the Indian scene in Leith for 30 years and has made a welcome move to the opposite side of the city. Loose canopies soften the otherwise plain room with the usual pops of colour dashed throughout to brighten the dining room. The menu is a collection of the usual suspects, but that is what you go for right? Try and deny it, if your favourite, go-to Indian dish is not on the menu you would be disappointed. However The Raj does have a couple of quirks that grabbed the attention. For example the Alex Salmond Favourite Salmon ... it didn’t entice me enough to try it but it is certainly an intriguingly named dish. The Staff Curry is a nifty idea that appeals to the eco warrior in me – a curry is made every night to keep the staff nourished and their strength up for the countless covers and, if you so desire, you can have some. You have to pay for it mind (£6.95).

Munching through some crispy poppadums dipped in a selection of regularly changing chutneys – on this day carrot, mango and spiced onions – I settled on chicken Lal mirchi (£2.65), and my opposite number opted for the vegetarian-friendly roast potato and cashew nuts (£2.65). Lal mirchi comes under the coated chicken category and was marinated in warming spices that delivered a good kick. I’m not going to sugar coat it. The food is filling and tasty, the chicken was punchy and similarly with the roast potato dish championed flavour over style and that’s the bottom line, this is not refined eating. Although a quick note about the naan – best ever. I would go back for that alone. The main – mixed grill (£10.95) was half a plate of meat and half the plate a handful of iceberg with a couple of tomatoes dropped in. Although sadly on a dish where the meat should really sing, the lamb and chicken erred heavily on the side of over done leaving it dry and a tad disappointing. But despite these few minor quibbles, the value for money coupled with welcoming and efficient service, a pleasant ambience and an interesting and vast selection of Indian and Bangladeshi dishes, The Raj is a solid option.

Menu options:

Appetizers

Chicken Tikka £2.95

Sheek kebab £2.95

Beef samosa £2.95

Spicy tuna fish cakes £2.95

Hara bhara kebab £2.65

Vegetable pakora £2.65

Onion bhaji £2.65

Lal mirchi £2.95

Tandoori chicken £2.95

Lamb kebab £2.95

Grill

Tandoori chicken £6.75

Chicken harivali tikka £6.75

Chicken shashlic £6.75

Lamb tikka £6.95

Spicy lamb chops £6.95

Chicken tikka £6.75

Afghani chicken £6.75

Tandoori mixed grill £10.95

Mains

Bhuna £5.95

Dhansak £5.95

Rogan Josh £6.15

Birmingham Balti £6.15

Pathia £5.95

Shahi korma £5.95

Vindaloo £6.15

Specialities

Coriander fish £6.95

Bengal tiger £6.75

Alex Salmond favourite salmon £7.95

Laal maas £6.95

Chicken tikka masala £6.7