Tom checks out Babur Empire

What to eat on a very warm, sticky, humid evening? A refreshing, chilled summer soup? A Greek salad? Some ice-cream? (errm, yes, actually..)

Or alternatively….a nice, hot, spicy curry!

Having enjoyed several deliveries from the excellent Tiffin Tin on Mill Lane recently, I decided on a more traditional style for my latest banquet and it was a good chance to check up on Babur Empire (also Mill Lane) following its recent change in management.

Although a king prawn rogan josh isn’t on the menu, I know from experience that they’re happy to knock one up if requested, so I went for this old favourite, along with a saag aloo and a roti bread.

My dinner arrived quickly, which was good, as I get very irritable if I sense a driver’s got lost and, as ever, it was delivered with the friendliness that I’m used to from these fine gentlemen.

Pleased to report…delicious food! As I’ve often said, if an establishment treats prawns with respect, it is often indicative of overall standards – and these were good prawns, lightly cooked, in a rich, buttery, tomatoey sauce. (Not sure why, but I love the word “tomatoey”. It is how tomatoes would describe themselves, if they could speak). There was an appropriate heat to the dish, perhaps less so than last time, but kind of there in the background in a pleasing way; and the flavours were rounded and bold – possibly the best rogan josh I’ve had from Babur.

Now, side orders can be a little predictable with traditional Indian food, can’t they? Not that this is a problem, but it should be pointed out here that my saag aloo was also particularly flavoursome. Really well-seasoned and balanced – it matched up well to the main dish. Adding to the fun was a decent roti bread, which I enthusiastically used to scoop up excess sauce. Tomatoey sauce.

Although a Pinot Noir doesn’t seem immediately suitable to accompany such cuisine, the one I was guzzling on this occasion worked out OK, partly due to its character and edge. From the Casablanca Valley in Chile, a somewhat unusual and fascinating wine, which gradually grew on me when I used to drink it very regularly indeed in La Brocca. Earthy, savoury, a touch of herbs, and other things which I’m too stupid to pick out properly. A few months back, I asked some locals sitting at the bar why this wine was no longer available? “You’ve drunk it all”, a lady casually replied.

To sum up then; whilst I love the modern, rather refined dishes of places liked Tiffin Tin and Holy Cow, I also remain very fond of the more old-school curries and their familiar, indulgent style. If you too enjoy the latter, do try Babur sometime. Heartwarming, satisfying food from a long-established local restaurant. And an excellent excuse, (as if we need one!), to experiment with wine and food matching.