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Home / Eating Out / Restaurant review: The Purple Poppadom, Cardiff
Purple Poppadom

Restaurant review: The Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

Have you ever had a theatrical  meal, then you may want to consider the Purple Poppadom?

One with drama and  intrigue, a real performance?  I’m not talking food that’s still  alive, here – I mean a meal that truly  surprised and delighted you with every  mouthful, that you wanted to rave review like  a Broadway show or an Orson Welles  production.

I didn’t start out with such high  expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, when I set  foot in the Purple Poppadom I was  aware of the reputation of multi  award-winning Kerala-born chef  Anand George.

Creator of nouvelle Indian  cuisine, he’d been working to  transform the concept of Indian food in Cardiff since his first  restaurant, Mint and Mustard. His  artistic style of cooking brought  new resonance to the idea of  Indian food, making it more than  merely ‘curry’ and certainly not  one to waste on the post-pub  crowd.

Nearly two years on from its  opening, and the Purple Poppadom  has only tightened its hold on the  elegant cuisine that George  introduced through his previous  endeavour, even snapping up the  Welsh Curry House of the Year  Award 2012.

The problem wasn’t with George,  or the Purple Poppadom restaurant and its  reputation – but with me, and my  tastes.

You see, I’d never been  convinced by Indian food.

The idea  of ‘curry’ made me think of a  variety of amazing ingredients  slathered in the same sauce, so  that all the freshness and flavour  disappeared from vegetables and  subsequently the plate had one  flavour, merely with varying textures.

I’d been persuaded to give the Purple Poppadom a try because my partner is a  convinced Indian food fan – he adores the  spices with the passion of someone brought  up on the curry houses  of the north of  England, and seldom a  weekend goes by when  he isn’t trying to  convince me to pop  into one of South  Wales’ Indian  restaurants.

In future, on the strength of this one incredible  meal, I might be tempted.

Purple Poppadom
Purple Poppadom Anand-George

 

Entering the restaurant, it’s not what you  might expect.

Halfway down Cowbridge Road  East in Canton, the premises sits atop a ‘man vs  food’ steak joint.

But inside, the serene room is a  world away, bedecked in the requisite purple and  warmly lit.

Our friendly welcome came along with two cool Bangla beers (£3.50 each) and we devoted  ourselves to the menu.

Currently running a special ‘Ocean’ menu, the  dishes are selected to celebrate seafood. It’s all  part of George’s commitment to bringing the  flavours of his home state of Kerala in south India  to Britain, and the dishes are not what one might  expect from an Indian menu, but that is part of the delight of the Purple Poppadom.

 

To start, I tucked into Kalamari Aur (£6.50),  golden crispy spice-battered squid. Plentiful and  fragrant, the seafood was lightly fried and served  on salad leaves, with a passion fruit and chilli  dressing.

The sweetness of the dressing was  delicious with the savoury batter, and I tried in  vain to make it last and last.

Across the table, my boyfriend tackled the  Scallops Chou-Fleur (£7.50), scallops with three  cauliflower variations.

The delicate dish was  subtly flavoured and light enough for a starter.

The pan-seared scallops were nice and fat, with each cauliflower rendering a pleasant surprise.  The puree was sweet and went well with the  scallops, the fritters had an unusual texture  which added an extra dimension to the dish and  the crisped cauliflower shavings  gave an extra interesting texture.

As far as first acts go, ours was  delicious, and I could scarcely  see how the mains could improve  on the flavours we had enjoyed.

But improve they did.

For the main, I went for the  Tiffin Seabass (£14.95), which  was a bit of a cheat.

I’d read that it was Anand  George’s signature dish, which  sealed him the House of  Commons Tiffin Cup, so I knew it  would be a real experience, but  with the first taste, even I was  blown away.

The sea bass was pan seared  and served on a bed of curry  leaf-infused mashed potato, but  the real hit came from the  brightly-hued raw mango, ginger  and coconut sauce. It was fresh  and delicious, with a fruity  sweetness that added something  really special to the meaty fish.

The whole thing was topped with  a bright pink beetroot pachadi  like the cherry on top of  perfection.

When he saw his main, my  partner’s jaw dropped, and it was  really something special when it  came to the taste test.

The Lamb Shank Raan Akbari  (£16.95) sees the meat cooked in  classic Mughlai style – marinated  with spices and slowly braised –  before being finished in the  tandoor.

The lamb shank was delicately  spiced so that the sweetness of the meat was  never overpowered but it was enhanced.

The  meat was incredibly tender on the inside thanks  to the elongated cooking time, but the final spell  in the tandoor gave it a crisp outer coating that  was the perfect foil.

Curried butternut squash mash complemented  the spices of the lamb, while the fresh mint  sorbet was a really exciting take on the tradition  of mint sauce with lamb.

When it came to sides, they were as incredible  as the main courses.

Hot pink and full of flavour,  the beetroot proffer (£4.50) –  beetroot cooked  with yoghurt and finished with mustard and  coconut – was delicious, as was the thoran  (£4.50), a traditional Keralan dish of vegetables  tempered with mustard and curry leaves. The  chilli coriander naan (£2.75) was crispier than  any I’d had before, but the freshness of the bread  was unquestionable and it was perfectly  seasoned.

 

Purple Poppadom – The desert course

After all that, a dessert was pure indulgence,  but how could we say no?

I ordered the, as it turned out, incredibly  pretty Bhapa Dohi (£7). Rose-infused steamed  yoghurt, served with fresh raspberries and  homemade rose petal ice cream, the dish was  balanced in presentation, with its components  perfectly cool after the spice of the rest of the  meal.

Rose petals were scattered on the plate,  which gave the whole thing an air of decadence I  was thrilled by.

The chocomosa Anand (£7) is the chef’s  signature dessert, and I couldn’t hold my  boyfriend back from ordering it.

Like a surprise present wrapped beautifully,  the cocomosa showcased rich melted Belgian  chocolate ganache bound in a light crispy pastry  parcel. Sweet but not overpowering, the vanilla  ice cream was flavoured perfectly.

As with any performance, I really felt like a  round of applause would have been in keeping  with our meal, but we settled for sending our  compliments to the chef. If you are in any doubt,  I urge you to visit the Purple Poppadom, for a  meal worthy of a standing ovation.

 

If you like your restaurants Boutique style then get other ideas from our curry article here.

 

Purple Poppadom, 185a Cowbridge Road  East, Cardiff

Tel:  029 2022 0026

The purple poppadom website 

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