Nurjenna (Indian) – Southgate
‘Kush Ho Ke Khow – Be Happy and Eat’
Having been named Newcomer of the Year back in 2015 at the Asian Curry Awards, before being judged London’s Restaurant of the Year earlier this August at the English Curry Awards, we arrived in Southgate with high expectations for Nurjenna.
The 100-seater award winning restaurant promises the “Finest Indian Cuisine” and appears to go by the adage, as articulated on its menu, “Kush ho ke khow”, or “Be happy when eating”.
Nurjenna’s menu is an extensive one too, with a whopping 152 items, and with the promise that: “If there is a dish you would like and cannot find on the menu, our chefs will usually be able to prepare it especially for you.”
The interior is quite impressive with its simple, yet clever use of wall mirrors located at the back which, given the restaurant’s uniformerly set table arrangement, manages to portray a greater sense of depth and space.
There’s also good use of lighting, with the slow and rhythmic colour-changing LED lights beautifully masked by Moroccan-inspired wooden fret-work panels extending across one side of the wall, and the large round golden-bronze light shades.
Not only did these create a dark, romantic ambience, but also tied in with the meaning of the word Nurjenna, which, crudely translated, means ‘Heavenly Light’.
As a complimentary, we received the usual papadums along with a chutney, yoghurt sauce, an achar, and an onion-based simple salad.
These attractively presented mocktails, while not officially on the drinks menu, can be ordered upon request.
With that said, the best, and by some distance, was the well balanced fizzy Classic Mojito, with the sharp tanginess immediately mellowed by the minty freshness.
As for the Strawberry Daiquiri, then the fruit came through fairly tamely, while the Cosmopolitan, though a little on the syrupy side, had a sweet zinginess to what was an otherwise insipid berry concoction.
This King Prawn Butterfly was personally recommended by the owner as one of his faves.
With an attractive golden breadcrumb exterior, this was a simple dish, but one that was one of the better king prawns we’ve had.
The batter was thick and crunchy, delicately spiced, and coated a fairly large prawn.
More importantly, however, it still managed to retain said texture even after some time, while containing a moist interior. Highly recommended!
A generous portion of soft, stir fried prawns rested atop a soft-cum-crispy-cum-oily well cooked puree naan.
But, while the menu says “rich medium sauce”, the prawns were coated in a not-so-exciting curry sauce that needed to be spicier to get the taste buds going.
TRADITIONAL CURRY DISHES
As the first main, this Ceylon set the standard, and was accompanied by perfectly cooked rice that was served separately.
Uncompromising in its spiciness, with the garam masala distinct in the background, the heat was quite fierce, while the chicken beautifully soft and succulent.
The garam masala in this Afghani Ghosht came through nicely enough to compliment the mango achar taste and aroma of this thick, tangy chick pea curry.
Although the meat in this Lamb Korai was relatively soft, the masala base was fairly oily. Nevertheless, it was flavourful without being overpoweringly so, and had a nice spicy-sweetness to it.
This Katchuri Dansak was more sour, than sweet, and well spiced too. And though the vegetables were decently cooked, this was quite unremarkable and quite oily too.
Supposed to have been cooked for eight hours, its texture and makeup most certainly said otherwise.
Presented on a bed of lettuce leaves and surrounded by bizarre, triangular-shaped orange crisps that offered a hint of spice, not only was the lump of lamb tough to cut through, but fatty too, making it a chewy eat.
And though one Lion’s insistence on a hint of smokiness lingering somewhere thither was denied by the other two, ultimately, we all agreed that the dish not only lacked flavour, but was poorly presented.
And yet, while it was decently fried, it didn’t strike us at all as anything especially special.
As for the biryani, then it was positively dry, and lacked any real depth of flavour.
To make matters worse, the lamb and chicken therein weren’t much better.
As for the prawns, then these really didn’t bring much to the plate.
TANDOORI SPECIAL DISHES
Carrying on the trend from the above, the selection of meats, including the solitary prawn, in this Tandoori Mixed Grill, were also bone dry, which was a pity considering that they had a good barbeque smokiness to them.
However, we did find that while one quarter had a thick, flavourous filling of mince, the other two had far less.
And as for the last quarter, then there was barely anything therein.
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We can only speculate as to whether a menu catering for a 152 individual items may be a contributing factor for the mediocrity we experienced. What's certain, however, is that we weren't entirely "Kush ho ke khow", or "Be happy when eating", but only because we were expecting far more in terms of innovation and culinary refinement from a multi-award winning curryhouse.
In any case, going by its 4.5/5 rating on Tripadvisor (100 reviews), Nurjenna certainly appears to be impressing the everyman and, of course, the good judges of said curry awards.
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86 Chase Side, Southgate,
London N14 5PH
T: +44 (0)20 8886 6244 | W: www.nurjenna.co.uk
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 17:30–23:00