Dave Kenny, Evening Herald ©

…five years later, when her nibs tied my bib and dragged me grumbling down to Jaipur, a new spicey orient on the mean streets of Dalkey.

Walking through the door we were treated to the first arc-light smile of the evening; a warmer, smilier reception you won’t find anywhere.

It even made up for the ten minute wait before we were seated. I mention this because we noticed another, later, couple being granted table space before ourselves. This, despite fulsome apologies, did not leave me greatly gruntled.

Her nibs opted for a dry sherry (IEP4.00) to drown out my moans while I adventurously went for a Nimbu Pani (IEP2.50): lemon and ginger juice, salt, pepper, honey and a mint leaf. It sounds disgusting but is guaranteed to sed the old taste buds squirming suggestively.

Noting we were novices, our waiter patiently led us through each course maintaining the extraordinarily infectious good humour that will, in time, become Jaipur’s hallmark.

I opted to start with Chilli Milli (IEP5.00), a flat cake of yams, runner beans, semolina, and spinach topped off with straw potatoes and drizzled with a mustard and yoghurt dip. My mood lightened considerably.

Gill decided to try the Sambusek (IEP4.50) and she dived into these “yummy” deep-fried pastry parcels stuffed with spinach, feta, sultanas and pine nuts, mopping up the tomato mint chuntey. Not taking anything on trust, I insisted on the critic’s share and was given a begudging mouthful which I had to agree was (for God’s sake) “yummy”.

For our entrées Gill asked for the Murgh Asafiya (I wrote it down on a napkin) and I mispronounced the Matka Gosth, both IEP13. Her nibs’s dish was a feast of creamy chicken with a cashew and onion sauce, tinted with saffron, topped with pine nuts. Not one for the spectacularly hot (she married me, after all) Gill put on such a ludicrous “it’s so gorgeous and not too spicy” face that I decieded to take her word for it.

My course was from the Punjab: hand-pounded lamb cooked in an earthenware pot with steaming coriander and cumin masala, flavoured with fenugreek and juicy moong lentils. I have to say that the taste was amazingly delicate. We also ordered a side sigh of Aloo Jeera Lahsooni – delicious garlicky stir-fried potatoes tossed in molasses, tomato and ginger salsa – IEP2.00.

No way could we dream of dessert, so we opted for a second bottle of Macon Lugny Louis Latour (IEP19.00)…

VERDICT: Big food with an even bigger smile

Dave Kenny, Evening Herald © November 2001