Zindiya, Moseley

Zindiya and I have grown up in Moseley together. I’ve been here fourteen months now, replacing them as the newbie in town two months after they opened. We’ve come through hard times together, mostly involving my hangover, occasionally stemming from their oh so fine cocktail list. And it’s amazing living so close to them; it’s impossible to have a bad meal there. I can easily recount the menu from memory, tell you what I want to eat based purely on my mood without looking down at the paper on the distressed wooden tables.

We’re also growing outwards together; just like my waistline after too few gym sessions and too many burgers, their menu is expanding. Which is obviously more bad news for my waistline, but absolutely brilliant news for everyone else. Over two trips I’ve managed to tick off pretty much all the new dishes and I can confirm they are b-a-n-g-i-n-g.

We kick off both visits with Zindiya’s Raj Kachori, a miniature version of the famous Rajasthani dish. The crispy wheat vessel is similar to that of pani puri, but here encases potato, lentil, chickpea, pomegranate, sev, tamarind and mint and coriander chutney; essentially all the elements of their chaat in a little bomb of deliciousness. Think pani puri evolved Pokémon style and you’re on the right track.

I might (definitely) have mentioned before that Zindiya’s chicken tikka is legendary, and it’s now joined on the menu by the Hariyali chicken tikka, a green version with fresh spinach, coriander and mint running through the marinade. Our heated discussion over which of the two is best nearly ended in violence, so you’ll have to be the judge; I’d probably order both to be on the safe side.

Authentic is a bit of an odd term to use whilst eating street food inside a restaurant in a middle class Birmingham suburb, but the moreish rounds of aubergine, fried in crisp gram flour batter and dredged though a sweet-sour tamarind sauce, remind me so much of my sub-continental travels that I think it’s warranted here. It takes the palate to similar places as the crispy aubergine dressed in honey, soy and chilli at El Borracho de Oro (which, if you haven’t already, is one of my Brum ‘must eats’) and is just as good at it’s Spanish cousin.

Keema pav is probably the least exciting of the new dishes that we try, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. It’s a comfort food kind of dish – the Indian equivalent of a shepherd’s pie or a chilli – comforting, warming flavours that I imagine will come into it’s own once Britain stops trying to be a tropical country and gets all miserable again.

Zindiya’s sister restaurant, Tap & Tandoor, do a wicked chilli paneer so it’s great to see it on Zindiya’s menu (along with a chicken version for dedicated carnivores). The punchy Indo Chinese sauce is sweet and sour for grown ups; more spice, less sugar and Zindiya’s trademark quality ingredients.

As well as traditional street food dishes, Zindiya like to put their own twist on things. Dessert samosas are nothing new but instead of taking the safe option and stuffing them with chocolate, they’ve used Gajar Ka Halwa, an Indian dessert of carrot, milk, sugar and nuts, as the filling. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but trust me on this one. It works.

I didn’t think it was possible for Zindiya to get any better, but the new menu is so good that I can definitely see some of the dishes ousting old favourites when I order. Either that, or I’ll just get them all. Sorry waistline.

Zindiya is at 21 Woodbridge Rd, Moseley, B13 8EJ. WEBSITE.


Zindiya, Moseley

I’m welcoming the Indian street food movement currently sweeping Birmingham (and the rest of the UK) with open arms. I’m lucky enough to have one of the very best “streatery”s right on my doorstep in Moseley; Zindiya. It’s versatile, vibrant food served up in a cool, relaxed setting, with the small plates meaning you can spend (and eat) as much or as little as you want.

I’m a little bit obsessed with India. I’ve been three times, and I’m counting down the days until my next visit in November. It’s an incredible country where I’ve had some incredible experiences. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve come very close to shitting myself in the back of a rickshaw. And I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it: the diverse and welcoming people, the vibrant streets, the stunning landscapes and landmarks. And the food. Of course I love the food.

In comparison, Indian food at home rarely comes close. It’s all too often heavy, greasy and stodgy; the same boring sauces trotted out over and over again. So I’m welcoming the Indian street food movement currently sweeping Birmingham (and the rest of the UK) with open arms. Places like Indian Brewery, Raja Monkey and (arriving soon) Mowgli are repping Indian street food all over the city, but I’m lucky enough to have Zindiya – one of the very best “streatery”s – right on my doorstep in Moseley.

I loved this place as soon as I walked in. The decor is fun, colourful and kitschy, with the exposed brickwork, mismatched chairs and painted shutters throwing a not-even-trying-to-be-subtle nod to the Indian streets that inspired the place. It’s brilliant, transporting the mind and spirit (though sadly not the body) far away from the grey streets of Birmingham.

The cocktail menu has been curated by Birmingham bartender extraordinaire Rob Wood: a sure sign of quality. Limeis the best of the four we try; tangy lime pickle cordial, fresh lemons and limes combine with Finlandia Vodka to give a sharp, complex flavour. The Chai Wala, an ‘Indian’ take on prosecco which adds Chai bitters, is – unsurprisingly, as I love chai tea – another favourite of mine. We find From Ooty with Love (rose, strawberries) and Coconut Bliss (coconut, lime) a little sweet, but the quirky presentation is sure to appeal to the Instagram masses.

So on to the food; the main reason we are here. The dishes are smaller, lighter and fresher than your standard curry house; the idea is that you order a selection and share. We order far too much of course – we always do – but the menu is so full of temptation that I challenge you not do the same if you visit. I skip over some old favourites – pani puri, bhajis, fish amritsari and seekh kebab, to name a few – in favour of trying some of the more unusual dishes.

I’m a committed carnivore but I only ate meat once when I spent a month in India, and because the veggie options are so good I didn’t miss it at all. Sadly this is rarely the case in the UK, so it was a pleasant surprise to notice that we had inadvertently chosen an almost entirely vegetarian meal (bar one portion of chicken tikka which my boyfriend has dubbed “the best chicken tikka in Birmingham”). I’m pleased to say that this mostly-meat-free meal did not disappoint.

Papri Chaat is my highlight of the night. Pops of crispy dough wafers nestle amongst chickpeas, potatoes, yoghurt and tamarind chutney, giving a perfect contrast of texture. The spicing is beautiful – all depth rather than heat – giving the dish a complex flavour that demands another mouthful. It’s absolute heaven in a dish, and a bargain at only £4.

A generous trio of dosas (£6.50) come with your choice of filling (Masala Aloo on this occasion), sambhar and coconut chutney. They’re excellent, as are the deceptively named Hara Bara kebabs (£7) – not kebabs at all but vegetable patties often served as a streetside snack in the Punjab.

We’re so full that I can’t give the paneer kati roll (£6.50) the attention it deserves, but my boyfriend finishes it off with pleasure. He was reluctant to order the Okra fries (£3) – branding the vegetable “disgusting” – but when faced with Zindiya’s crisp, beautifully seasoned rendition he was rapidly converted. He’s wrong a lot; don’t hold it against him. One thing he was right about was the chicken tikka though. It’s moist, fragrant and thoroughly delicious.

Zindiya is really bloody brilliant, and I reckon it’s pretty perfect for any occasion. It’s versatile, vibrant food served up in a cool, relaxed setting, with the small plates meaning you can spend (and eat) as much or as little as you want. It may be 4 months until I land in my beloved India again, but until then I’m very, very lucky to have Zindiya’s amazing street food less than half a mile from my door. Go there, and go soon – it’s a lot cheaper than a plane ticket.

Zindiya is at 21 Woodbridge Rd, Moseley, B13 8EJ. WEBSITE.