As you’d expect this Streatham restaurant wasn’t exactly buzzing on a Monday lunch time, but we received a warm welcome, and warming cups of tea, as we browsed the menu of authentic Lahori food on the all-halal menu (for the uninitiated, Lahori cuisine means less ghee/cream and lighter cooking with plenty of tandoori and chargrilled dishes.)
It must have been the cold outside that did it, but we decided to go off piste and choose more unusual dishes. Proprietor Neelofar Khan told us that her male customers tend to stick with their favourites (most often chicken tikka masala), while women are often more adventurous – a good move, girls, as Chilli Chutney offers the chance to try less obvious Lahori dishes from head chef Shahid Mehmood, who’s been at the restaurant since it opened over six years ago.
Starters of cubed, deep-fried cheese in gram flour batter (paneer pakora, £3.25) and chicken fillet coated and fried in batter (mozang chicken, £3.95) were interesting and unusual, although the batter could have been crisper. They were well presented with salad and a trio of chutneys and dipping sauces.
Mains were superb examples of how balanced, fresh and interesting Pakistani food can be – no overload of ghee or garam masala here. Boneless chicken in a tomato and spice sauce (chicken achaari, £6.95) and yellow lentils with browned garlic, onion and oil garnish (tarka dahl, £5.20) were really buzzing with flavour but not too much heat (you can specify how hot you want your food to be).
But the highlight had to be boneless chicken cubes cooked in onion-based curry with fresh coriander and green herbs (chicken hara masala, £6.95): fresh and green, the herb coriander offset the spicy chicken beautifully.
Parathas and naans made a good accompaniment, especially the unusual chef’s speciality of roghni naan (£2.75), made from egg and yoghurt-based dough and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The house pilao rice was well worth choosing: a Lahori speciality, with fried onions.
Chilli Chutney has other branches in Croydon and Waterloo and they deliver within a two-mile radius.
20-21 The High Parade
Streatham High Road
Tel: 020 8696 0123