I haven’t done a ‘favourite haunts’ post for a while, but I guess there are only so many favourite haunts a girl can have – otherwise the description becomes meaningless. However, I have been quite remiss in taking so very long to add the wonderful Tangawizi to my blog. It’s not that I haven’t eaten there in the 11 months since I began the blog but it’s not always appropriate to be taking photos of every dish that’s served with everyone one dines with; and I have had many takeaways. Tangawizi is the only place I ever have takeaway from. They deliver for free within a 3-mile radius for orders over £15 and sometimes just the thought of a Tangawizi curry makes it too tempting to resist picking up the phone and having someone with a bag full of Indian delights knocking at your door about 45 minutes later; or sometimes there’s family coming over and we say, let’s have a Tangawizi takeaway.
My friend Annie – a frequent partner in blog writing excursions – was over yesterday and I suggested we went to Tangawizi in the evening. I’d raved to her about it many times, which of course meant it had lots to live up to. But I wasn’t worried … I’ve never been disappointed by a meal there.
I’m not sure exactly when Tangawizi first opened its doors in Twickenham, close to Richmond Bridge, but it must be about 10 years ago. Going there for the first time was amazing because the quality of its food and the stylish interior was so far beyond the average local Indian restaurant. This is serious dining; it’s not ‘going out for a curry’ in the usual sense of the description – even if it’s sometimes full of rugby crowds on big match days at Twickenham. In fact, Tangawizi has received acclaim from all the major food guides: it has a Michelin Bib Gourmand, has received praise from The Good Food Guide (‘Colourful, classy Indian cooking’), Time Out (‘relaxed, hip enterprise … dab hand in the kitchen’) and Harden’s (‘accomplished’). If you’re planning to try it out – and you should! – then book. I invariably do but took a risk by not doing so last night as we planned to be there early, and it was a Tuesday evening. When we walked in at about 7 o’clock it was already busy and when they asked if I’d booked, I felt a rush of anxiety at having to say, No. But it was OK … there was a table for two by the window and soon excellent wine and pappadums with a good selection of accompaniments were put before us. And then a little amuse bouche of mango lassi, which was refreshing and delicious.
I know the standard a la carte menu well and one of my favourite dishes is Methi Wala Chicken – cubes of chicken breast cooked in a spicy sauce with cumin, garlic and fenugreek leaves – so that was a must. But there are always specials and Annie and I both liked the look of the Sesame Lamb with fried spinach dish.
They always cook lamb so well: mouthwateringly tender and delicious. I often choose the Lamb Saagwala – another favourite – which also has spinach but the spinach is cooked in the sauce so has a very different flavour to the special we had last night. Both our meat dishes were wonderful but there are other ‘musts’ at Tangawizi. Their naan is so good I have to have some; though occasionally might choose a Peshawari Naan filled with coconut or at other times a Paratha. They have great vegetable side dishes too: we had Aloo Jeera last night, potatoes cooked with cumin and turmeric but other favourites are their Sag Aloo (potatoes and spinach) and Bhindi Koti Masala – okra cooked with cumin in a sauce. And we also ordered Pilau Rice.
I can see from my photos that our choices look a bit similar but they weren’t. Tangawizi cooking is top quality and the fresh and individual flavours of the spices and flavourings shine through. The flavours are both subtle and have depth.
I know from other occasions that Tangawizi do brilliant desserts but Annie and I were far too full yesterday to contemplate one. We settled instead for some fresh mint tea to end our meal – and even that was exceptionally good; fragrant, full-flavoured mint and very delicious.
The bill for the two of us, without tip, and including two glasses of wine, came to £48. For food of this quality, that’s excellent value. And I can promise you, it won’t be long before I’m back there again …