Birmingham is the Balti Capital, home of the Balti Triangle and to some of the best restaurants serving authentic Indian cuisine. Last night Harry and I went to check out Raja Monkey, an authentic Indian Street Food cafe in Hall Green, just outside central Birmingham. Although not quite within the Balti Triangle, Raja Monkey is a vibrant little road side cafe, and is definitely one of those places you sometimes stumble upon and think, yep, we've found a hidden gem. They serve classic Indian dishes from curries to biryanis to authentic thalis, all cooked fresh within view. Obviously, the most important thing is the food, so warning: following photos may induce hunger...
To start, we shared poppadoms, mango chutney and pickles. I could live off poppadoms so, y'know I was good with this. The mango chutney was amazing. It had different spices in it which gave it a real kick! The mint sauce was lovely too, very refreshing. Harry found the pickles a little bit spicy but said they were really tasty. We also shared a chicken mix starter which consisted of tandoor grilled chicken niblet, tandoor roasted chicken thighs in a North Indian marinade and crunchy fried chicken pakora. This was so tasty, the chicken was really succulent. I loved the pakora, which was quite spicy but really good dipped in the damson chutney it came with! Both were well priced especially as we shared. I could have easily eaten all this myself...
For the main course, we decided to go for different things. Harry went for a Rajasthani Thali. A Thali is a traditional way of serving food and is a complete meal on a platter. The main component was a smokey mutton dish cooked in tomato, ground red chilli and cardamon. It was served with rice, dhal, bread and a little chickpea dish. The mutton was really tasty, though I found it a little too smokey for my taste. It had a bit of a kick to it which is always good! I loved the chickpea dish that came with it; they were in a kind of spicy tomato sauce that was full of flavour. My main course was (maybe a little boring...) a Rogan Josh and steamed rice. Hands down the nicest Rogan Josh I've ever tasted. It was delicately flavoured but still managed to leave my mouth tingling from the spice and the lamb literally melted in my mouth. It was a really tasty curry. Harry's dish cost around £13 which is good value considering you have a whole meal. Mine came to around £10 as the curry and rice come separately which I would be happy to pay seeing as it was so nice!
I'd definitely recommend heading to Raja Monkey if you have the chance. The street food scene is becoming really big in Birmingham recently and I love that this demonstrates that Indian cuisine isn't just curry and rice. It was a lovely restaurant with a really cosy atmosphere. It wasn't very busy when we went but I can imagine it it buzzing at the end of the week. The staff were incredibly friendly and more than happy to offer recommendations. The menu isn't extensive but there is definitely something for everyone and you can go crazy and try something new. At such great value for money, it's a great place to discover something that will get your taste buds tingling. (Check out the menu here) I'm also pleased to find out they also have a take away menu! The meal for us both was under £40, and considering we had starters, mains, beer and wine, that's pretty damn good. It's about a fifteen minute drive from where I live but Harry and I both said we would be happy to go there again. Sometimes the nicer restaurants are that little bit further out and are really worth it!
Will you be heading here soon? Have you sampled some of Birmingham's finest Indian restaurants?
*This meal was complimentary for review purposes.
This did not affect mine (or Harry's!) point of view!