Despite Cardiff’s wealth of excellent South Indian restaurants including Purple Poppadom, Mint & Mustard and Ponnuswamy, one part of the city that has been lacking so far is Roath’s Wellfield Road.
But, earlier this week, Salkaara, an upscale restaurant with an existing outlet in Llandaff North, quietly opened the doors of its second Cardiff branch on Wellfield Road.
The expansion across Cardiff is a testament to the success of the original restaurant, but would the new venue be as good?
Read more: The Definitive Guide to Eating and Drinking in Roath
Co-owned by Santhosh Nair, a former Mint & Mustard executive chef from Kerala, Salkaara’s menu will be familiar to fans of Cardiff’s other South Indian restaurants. Dishes like crispy soft shell crab, sea bass with raw mango sauce, chocolate filled samosas and tandoori pineapple are all making an appearance.
On the third day of work, a frosty Monday night, there was a warm welcome from the house crew who were busy putting up their Christmas decorations.
Frozen Cobra pints were swallowed with crispy poppadom chips accompanied by a trio of excellent chutneys (Â£ 3.95); mouth-watering lemon, sweet and earthy beet, and fresh, tangy mint.
Suriyani beef dry fries (Â£ 6.50) were a dish for meat lovers. A bowl of tender chunks of beef was coated with a mixture of heady dry spices of coconut and curry leaves.
Beautifully smooth and creamy cubes of zafrani paneer tikka (Â£ 6.25) were delicately flavored with saffron and lightly lick of char while a tangy chutney added a nice note of sweetness to the dish.
I was a little terrified of my main course the chettinad lamb kuzhambu (Â£ 12.95) as I was warned it was hot before ordering it. I didn’t have to worry as it turned out to be medium heat at best. Slow-cooked pieces of lamb were coated in a thick, earthy and intensely meaty sauce that must have been the result of long cooking.
Nawabi murgh (Â£ 13.95) was such a great example of a tandoori chicken that I have tried anywhere. Ridiculously tender and fragrant, it was served with an excellent creamy tomato-based makhani sauce as well as a mixed leaf salad topped with lightly smoked chicken. If only all the side salads were topped with meat.
The sides have maintained high standards. Thoran (Â£ 4.95), made of crispy cabbage and carrot tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds, was a cool counterpoint to the rich curries.
A chewy naan (Â£ 3.25) was stuffed with sweet figs and topped with aromatic cilantro. If you are looking for a change for a naan peshwari, start here.
Finally, the pilau rice (Â£ 3.75) had a distinct grain and a decadent butteriness.
Desserts, often an afterthought in Indian restaurants, were as well regarded as starters and main courses.
Gulab jamun (Â£ 4.50) was a deliciously light but indulgent pudding. Fried soft dough balls soaked in saffron-flavored syrup were accompanied by vanilla ice cream.
Finally, a dessert tasting trio (Â£ 6.50) all hit the mark. Smoke-licked tandoori pineapple, a crispy samosa filled with a rich chocolate ganache, and a silky crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e lightly scented with rosewater were all excellent.
We had a crunchy curry from the new Roath restaurant in Salkaara and it was just as good as our previous meals at their Llandaff North branch. It is fair to say that Salkaara has started to operate and it is a very welcome addition to Wellfield Road.
Address – 24 Wellfield Road, Cardiff CF24 3PB
Phone – 02920 562100
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