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Modern Indian fare at Lilu’s

Lilu's restaurant is a fine dining-esque restaurant with posh Indian food at the heart. Muddy tucks in.

THE LOWDOWN

We know everyone enjoys a good curry and the city has its fair share; there’s Indian restaurants, diners, pubs cafes and takeouts but what we do lack is a finesse in Indian cooking/restaurants, often seen in the larger cities like London and Manchester.

Pratik Master has tried to fill that void with Lilu. Don’t call it a curry house and don’t expect to order a vindaloo, this is a contemporary take on Indian cuisine with A-mazing results.

VIBE

Located in the heart of the city, the restaurant’s a stone’s throw away from the shopping centre and in good foodie company with The Fish and The Chip and Cosy Club just around the corner.

Inside it’s intimate and cosy seating up to 28 covers and the restaurant has made good use of it’s space, even managing to squeeze a little bar at the front. Tables are quite close together so you may overhear a conversation or two, but this didn’t bother us. The decor meanwhile is modern, minimal and bright, special features include a wall of black and white family pictures and a well-lit quote by Mahatma Gandhi by the front door ‘God comes to the hungry in the form of food’. Nice touch.

SCOFF / QUAFF

I don’t know about you, but I get really overwhelmed by long menus, you know, the ones that go on and on, so it was a nice to see a simple and succinct one here. If you follow the restaurant on IG you’ll see the pictures are all tagged with the hashtag #notjustacurry because you won’t find a curry on the main menu; instead they’re served as sides dishes. Pratik has basically thrown out the rule book and gone against the grain and as far from a Jalfrezi and Korma as you can get – what you have at Lilu’s is something more creative and refined.

We started off with obligatory poppadums and then came a selection of mini starters called the Mumbai Chaat, a selection of Indian street food street snacks, assorted chutneys, spiced tamarind water and yoghurt.

The small fried puff-pastry ‘puri’ balls are a firm favourite. The idea is to pour some tamarind water/juice into the small hollow puri and pop it into your mouth in one go – the result is a crunchy explosion of flavour.

For starters, I picked the paneer (Indian cheese) dish. It came marinated in beetroot, with beetroot, onion and red peppers slices and a beetroot and greek yoghurt dressing.

One squeeze of the lemon wedge and the taste of the dish was totally transformed.

Mr Muddy meanwhile ordered the tandoori roasted chicken breast, minced lamb kebab coated with diced peppers and cabbage and gave it a big thumbs up. We had the mudlet with us and so we ordered him a chicken tandoori dish which he happily chomped his way through.

For mains I went for the paneer stuffed baby peppers – I wouldn’t usually eat paneer twice in one sitting but it was the only veggie option on the menu, apart from Biryani which I didn’t fancy. The food arrived in the biggest plates I have ever seen, and after one bite any regrets I had, were quickly forgotten.

The finely chopped paneer was enveloped in the delicate sweetness of the yellow and red peppers and the dish was only made better by the delicious cassava kofta balls. There was a lot going on in this dish and the masala potato in the middle wouldn’t have been missed but I loved the crunch of the pomegranate seeds and the crispy fried okra were to this Indian dish, what edamame is to Japanese food –  perfectly more-ish.

My other half went for a tender spiced lamb cutlets and a side of the butter chicken which he actually preferred over the lamb. We also had an extra side dish of tandoori chicken, which went down a treat.

We literally had no room for dessert but the options included traditional Indian sweet carrot pudding, rose chocolate ganache and Kulfi.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: It’s a real all-rounder and good for a special occasion and date night like we did. It is not open for lunch only dinner from 6pm Tuesday – Saturday. As it’s quite a small restaurant, it’s better to book in advance as it’s quite popular because of its good rep and central location. They even have a full vegan menu. Bonus!

Nor for: Beered-up boys looking for, stacks of tandoori sizzlers, poppadoms and lager lager lager and unadventurous korma lovers might struggle to find something to suit.

The damage: Pricier than your average Indian restaurant, but the pricing structure is simple; 2 courses for £35 or 3 courses for £39. There’s no kids menu but the Lilu’s is very kid-friendly and Pratik is super accommodating and will happily get the kitchen to whip something up for the little people.

Lilu, 76 Highcross Street, Leicester, LE1 4NN. Tel: 0116 2623119 or 07904 929 374

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