One of the things I have discovered in the last few months is how great the food scene here in Birmingham is and so I have made it my mission to get out and try as many of the city’s best loved restaurants as I can. Lucky for me, I was invited down to test out Indian street cafe, Raja Monkey and as a big indian food lover, I jumped at the chance! Raja Monkey is a bit different to your average Indian takeaway, with a carefully crafted and selective menu offering authentic street style indian food to really get the taste buds going. After being greeted by the lovely team, Will and I grabbed a drink and perused the menu.
After some serious deliberation, we opted for one of the Chef’s specials to start, the Samosa Chaat, along with one of the Chicken Mix Starters. Samosa Chaat is a dish made up of fried samosa’s broken up into little pieces served with chic peas and a yoghurt and tamarind sauce. The flavour was delicious and it definitely added a little something extra to just snacking on a simple Samosa while you are warming up for your main.In the chicken mix starter there was Chicken Banjara, Thangri Tikka and Pakora. The Chicken Banjara and the Pakora were nice but the Thangri Tikka was insanely delicious and some of the most juicy and flavoursome chicken I have ever eaten! The bitesize thigh fillets are cooked in spicy north indian style marinade, making them really tender and packed full of flavour.
Now it was time for the main event, and again Will and I found it so tough to choose what to have. After some guidance from the team, Will opted for the Raja Monkey take on an old favourite the Murgh Makani which is essentially the same as Butter Chicken and I decided to be a bit adventurous and try one of the Rajasthani Thali’s, which they describe as ‘The stars of their show!”.
A Thali is a meal made up with a selection of dishes, usually including a rice and some form of bread or naan. This is perfect for me as I am seriously indecisive and love to have little try of as much as I can! After making very short work of it, Will assured me that his Murgh Makani was delicous and really tasty without being too spicy – just how he likes his curry! The main dish on my Thali was smoky mutton cooked with ground red chilli, whole cardamom and cloves. Now I’m not going to lie, Mutton and Lamb are probably some of my least favourite meats and I usually don’t eat them at all but this looked by far the most tasty Thali on the menu, so I thought I would give them another go in a dish I had never tried before. The verdict? Well I’m still not keen on mutton! But I can’t deny that the flavour was to die for, and it was cooked so beautifully that it just fell off the bone.
To finish up, despite feeling full enough to burst, we decided to give another one of the chef’s specials a go in the shape of a desert called Gajar Hallia. This is essentially, caramelised grated carrot served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I know I know, it doesn’t sound too appealing! But in actual fact, after a big meal it was just the right amount of sweet to finish it off nicely and it definitely didn’t feel like I was munching on a carrot!
One of the things I really loved about Raja Monkey was the vibrant and bright nature of the place, and this was echoed in the food as much as the decor. The laid back traditional street style really gave you the feel of being in an authentic indian street cafe and I think they certainly achieve their aim of taking you a little bit closer to the real india…as close as you can get on the streets of Birmingham! The rustic eastern charm and the delicious intense flavours make it a must visit – especially if you are a fan of Indian food like me!
Thanks for inviting me down guys – I will definitely be back!