Tom Doorley, Food & Drink ©

It is possible to eat at Jaipur and completely avoid the usual suspects. The starters are particularly inventive by the standards of the average Indian restaurant in Ireland and there is no need to ingest half a litre of cooking oil with your onion bhaji or lamb samosa.

A starter of aubergine rounds fried to crispiness in a light batter came with a rather austere collection of marinated, cooked pepper strips and smooth, sweet but nicely tart mango chutney.

Gilafi seekh, a kind of lamb kebab, was rolled in dried peppers, cooked in the tandoor until just done but still pink and juicy and served with an intriguing combination of aubergine and chickpea mash.

Chettinad murgh is a favourite of mine, both here at Jaipur and in the privacy of my own home, where I’m inclined to use chicken thighs for additional flavour and the moistness of the meat. Here it involved large chunks of breast, liberally bathed in a deep brown sauce which was properly hot with the flavour of crushed black pepper; wonderfully fragrant with cinnamon and cloves and sharp with the tang of tamarind. It was first class in its pungency and simplicity.

The special of the day particularly impressive in that it demonstrated how the hotness of chilli is not essential for flavour. The subtle spicing of lamb shank cooked long and slow in coconut milk until the meat was falling off the bone was a class act.

Kabuli chana was a meal in itself – and something I often have at Jaipur when I’m meat. Parboiled chickpeas are finished in tomato-based sauce, enriched with raw mango, which melts by the time it gets to the table.

It is further enhanced by the addition of fenugreek leaves (not something you see every day) and ginger. It jumps with flavour and the ginger gives it a piquant spiciness.

Steamed and buttered basmati and a bit of naan completed a very pretty and tasty Indian picture and the whole lot was lubricated with a few Cobra beers. The bill came to 82.40 euros including exceptionally pleasant and efficient service and excellent drips served with poppadoums.

The Sunday Tribune 26.01.03 ©