Posted on Monday, 6th February 2017
Cinnamon Bazaar is the latest addition to the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants: Cinnamon Soho, Cinnamon Star and now, Cinnamon Bazaar.
As the name suggests Cinnamon Bazaar plays on the idea of a “bazaar”, a central marketplace where for centuries ideas and ingredients were exchanged, and cultures converged to come together to create one big melting pot. The fusion concept translates well at Cinnamon Bazaar with the restaurant’s menu drawing inspiration from countries dotted along the trading routes of old. The design of the restaurant also plays on the theme of a bazaar, offering a laid back environment where diners can relax and share a varied selection of dishes and drinks.
Laid over two floors, Cinnamon Bazaar is richly decorated in vibrant colours such as deep blues and fresh greens. The restaurant has made use of organic, natural materials which reflect the history of India. Finally, Illuminated lanterns and hanging ceiling drapes complete the eclectic bazaar ambience.
We visited Cinnamon Bazaar as part of a bloggers’ evening where we were treated to a variety of items from the diverse menu which includes a selection of snacks, chaats and main plates. We were firstly welcomed with a variety of delicious canapes from the snack menu such as crab bonda – pleasantly spiced Calcutta crab with a hint of tangy beetroot in a crispy chickpea batter; creamy chicken Haleem (pate) on some crunchy sourdough toast; and some velvety smooth chana masala hummus.
Also wonderful was the grilled aubergine with sesame peanut crumble, labna and toasted buckwheat. Although not actually a ‘snack’ but an item from the main plates, the aubergine was delicious. It had been beautifully cooked with the aroma of the sesame and the crunchiness of the peanut in the crumble adding a wonderful texture and vibrancy to the soft warmth of the aubergine.
The highlight of Cinnamon Bazaar was unquestionably the signature Chaat items. Chaats have always been a key feature of traditional Indian bazaars where jewellers would often offer their customers chaat snacks whilst they waited for their jewellery to be made. Here we tried the Papdi chaat: crisp wheat, tangy tamarind, yoghurt and chickpea vermicelli; Aloo tikki chaat: Spiced potato cake with curried white peas and chickpeas; and Jodhpuri kachori chaat: spiced onion dumplings with curried white peas, chutney medley. All the chaats were a delight, beautifully spiced with the right level of heat which was then softened by contrasting flavours of yoghurt or chutney, etc. Added to that were hints of tanginess as well as crispy, crunchy textures. These were a joy to eat and showcased a high level of refinement.
Also pleasant was the watermelon chaat: pressed watermelon with amaranth seeds, date chutney and masala cashew nuts which was very refreshing.
We then moved onto three starters, all of which were adopted from the main menu. Pepper fry of curry leaf and cracked black pepper fried shrimp included nice juicy prawns coated with a fragrant pepper flavour. Tandoori chutney paneet tikka offered a punchy vegetarian option, with a bold flavoursome cheese that had been well caramelised.
But the lamb galauti kebab with flaky saffron paratha was our least favourite of the trio. It was a little light on flavour and with a texture that was so fine that the kebab seemed to lack for body.
Mains included a tandoori Kentish lamb fillet, mint chilli korna, masala cashew nut and pilau rice. The lamb was tender and paired well with the flavours of mint, chilli, masala and cashew.
The kabuli kofta with chickpeas, spinach, dried fruits and tomato fenugreek sauce offered up a rich lively flavour with robust, crunchy chickpea koftas. There were lots of melodious flavours in this vegetarian option that seemed to sit up and sing, although it was a little on the rich side. These mains were accompanied by a delicious selection of flavoursome biriyani and black dahl.
The dessert was a carrot halwa roll, a roll containing fragrant and wonderfully spiced carrots. But the most delightful element on the plate was the accompanying clove ice cream which was delectably creamy and with just the right amount of clove flavour running through it.
For drinks, we were served an innovative cocktail list developed by award-winning mixologist, Ryan Chetiyawardana. Aka Mr Lyan, he is best known for the famed White Lyan bar and the reputable Dandelyan. With Cinnamon Bazaar Mr Lyan has created a collaborative menu to stimulate the senses and to enhance the unique Cinnamon Bazaar dining experience. Cocktails included the refreshing Makhani Gin Fizz with Beefeater Gin, cream, saffron tincture, almond, lemon, egg white and soda. There was also the Masala Coke Float with aged rum. For a nostalgic touch, there was a luscious dollop of masala ice-cream to complete the drink.
All the food was delicious, but the highlight of the evening was the chaats. A visit to Cinnamon Bazaar would not be complete without trying some of these. Also the clove ice cream was divine.
The lamb galauti kebab wasn’t too our taste.
Prices: Snacks and chaats are priced from £4.50 to £5.75. Main plates are priced from £7 to £16. The menu is designed for sharing, so diners can expect to spend about £30 to £40, excluding drinks and service.