Read time: 3 minutes
Halal status - Only the chicken is Halal. No pork served. Alcohol is served on premises.
Headingley branch - 53 Otley Road, Headingley, LS6 3AB, 0113 274 2618
Leeds Centre Branch - 9 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7LY, 0113 234 0454
Indian restaurants come in all shapes and sizes and everyone has their own favourites (The Cat's Pyjamas has now become one of mine). In recent years we've seen a growing trend of Indian restaurants popping up all over the UK serving traditional street food offering hungry diners an authentic taste of India.
They have two restaurants; one in Leeds city centre and the other in Headingly (which we visited). The restaurant is the brain child of entrepreneur Alison White who worked closely with Michelin starred chef Alfred Prasad to create a menu full of surprises and mouth watering street-food snacks, curries and tandoori grills.
The Cat's Pyjamas screams out cool!
As soon as I walked in I got a warm, homely aroma of Indian food. I knew I had arrived. Curry is my ultimate comfort food and my go to cuisine when I can't decide what to eat on an evening. Eager and ready to be sat down we were shown to our table in this small yet compact restaurant. The decor is very rustic, like it was put together by hand. I think they were trying to replicate the small, rickety shacks come cafes in India. I loved the no frills decor; the open brick walls, corrugated metal panels, the hanging lights with the exposed wiring and wooden beams. This is a quirky little restaurant. Everything from the food, the decor even the name 'The Cat's Pyjamas', which is an early 1900's slang term used to describe something as being the best at what it does, screamed cool.
You have to start every Indian meal with papadoms and pickle tray
I love to start every Indian meal with pappadoms and these were perfectly light, crispy and oh so moorish. I had to hold back my temptation of ordering more otherwise I would have spoiled my appetite. I liked how the pickle tray was about quality not quantity; there were only 3 dips. The mint sauce was light and refreshing, the mango chutney with flecks of what I think were onions seeds added an earthy flavour to the familiar sweet taste. I enjoyed how thick and gloopy it was too. I literally had to shake it off the spoon. My personal favourite was the red sauce topped with fresh onions and coriander. It was like a pureed salsa, but 'desified'. It was an airy and fresh tasting sauce, which had an undeniably gorgeous vibrant red colour.
Small and yummy bite sized pieces of chicken
The Chicken 65 (what a cool name) is a starter made up of 4 small bite sized pieces of chicken coated in a light, crispy and slightly spicy batter, which was a delicious golden brown colour. The batter made a delightful crunch as I bit down on it and the only snag I had was that the chicken was maybe left to fry a little bit too long, as it was slightly on the dry side. The tamarind sauce was fruity and tangy and worked well with the chicken. I'm not a big fan of fresh onions because they can be a bit overpowering but it worked well in the crispy salad.
The curry wasn't swimming in oil. Big thumbs up
The first thing I noticed was how lovely the colour of the sauce was and it was thick and smooth in consistency. The spices were really well balanced and one didn't over power the other. The chicken was moist and pre marinated in spices that added another layer of yumminess to the dish. It was spicy but not too hot which I liked because adding to much chilli kills all the other flavours.
What I liked about this curry is that on first bite there was so much depth and complexity and with every next bite the flavour intensified and got better and better. It was such a delight to eat. They use freshly roasted spices in their curries and it makes such a difference. The one thing that surprised me the most was that this curry wasn't oily at all. I can't stand it when I go Indian restaurants and the curry is drowning in oil and ghee. It really doesn't need all that oil.
Soft and fluffy Garlic Naan
The naan was soft, fluffy and slightly sweet. It was crispy in places where it was stretched before going in the searing hot tandoori oven and caught the open flames. The garlic didn't have that raw, harsh flavour but it was still punchy. I liked that it was drizzled with ghee because it gave the naan a nice nutty and luxurious taste. In my opinion a naan is the perfect accompaniment with any curry.
Light and fragrant rice
The rice was light, fragrant and all the individual grains were all separated. The way basmati rice should be cooked and served.
Not a drop of curry on my clothes!
The easiest part was walking in but the hardest part was walking out because I was so full! As a side note I have to say that I was really proud of myself because I went the WHOLE meal without dropping any curry on my clothes. Yay me!