Hankies Marble Arch

Just five minutes’ walk from Marble Arch, Hankies is a stylish Indian restaurant specialising in small plates of Delhi street food. Rupert Parker went for a taste

Hankies Sign

Hankies Sign

Restaurant

Restaurant

Chef Anirudh Arora

Chef Anirudh Arora

Chutneys

Chutneys

Bhindi Bhel

Bhindi Bhel

Bhatak Ki Kurchan

Bhatak Ki Kurchan

Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka

Chive and Garlic Prawn Skewer

Chive and Garlic Prawn Skewer

Lockfyne Salmon

Lochfyne Salmon

Chilli Lamb Chop

Chilli Lamb Chop

Saag Subzee

Saag Subzee

Hankies Salad

Hankies Salad

Gulukhand Kheer

Gulukhand Kheer

Kulfi Trio

Kulfi Trio

Opening at the start of January 2017, in the bijou Montcalm Hotel, Hankies is not the sort of place that you’d stumble across by accident. Rather you have to make a point to seek it out and you’re greeted by a classy dining room, airily furnished in light browns and beiges. The glassware and china has been sourced from Indian markets and antique stores by Chef and Hankies founder, Anirudh Arora.

He used to have the Moti Mahal in Covent Garden where I once spent a memorable evening sampling his whisky pairing menu. This restaurant gets its name from the Roomali roti, a thin, wheat-based flatbread which is hand spun so thin that it’s almost translucent. A chef in one corner of the restaurant is busy with this piece of food theatre and he then cooks it on a burning hot Tawa. Folded like a handkerchief, it can be served plain or stuffed with cheese and spices.

We start with a couple of the plain versions, soft and light, served with three house made chutneys, a delicious change from your average Indian restaurant version. They have just the right amount of spice and there’s mushroom, tomato and sultana and, my favourite, a tangy chicken mix.

Our appetisers are a mix of small bites: Bhindi Bhel is a fresh mixture of crunchy okra, puffed rice and coriander. Bhatak Ki Kurchan is a crispy duck dish with masala cashews, mint, mandarin and watermelon. Both are dotted with fresh pomegranate seeds, something the chef tells me is commonplace back in Delhi. Crispy ‘Gold’ cod turns out to be turmeric and Amritsari spiced battered fish pieces designed to be dipped in a sour mango sauce.

We move on to the grills. Two pieces of street style chicken tikka with mint, coriander and red chilli make us ask for more. A skewer of chive and garlic prawns comes with a tasty shiso and cumin salsa. There’s a slab of Lochfyne salmon cooked with honey, dill and black pepper, just slightly overcooked for my taste. The chilli lamb chop, marinated in Kashmiri chillies, paprika and mustard oil is pleasantly rare and comes with a refreshing cucumber and mint raita.

So far, all have been tasting size portions so our appetites have been pleasantly tantalised, but we’re ready for more. A selection of veggie dishes and something from the ‘Pots and Pans’ menu seem more like dishes you’d find in your standard Indian. Delhi butter chicken in a creamy tomato sauce and Saag Subzee with spinach, chard and brussels sprouts, topped with miniature lotus puffs are both familiar. More interesting is the Prawn Pulao, a small pot of braised basmati rice and saffron, with the shellfish hiding in the bottom.

Fainter souls would have skipped dessert but I’m a sucker for rice pudding and the Gulukhand Kheer with caramelised mango and ginger honeycomb, dotted with pistachio, doesn’t disappoint. My companion goes for the homemade Kulfi and gets a trio of mango and saffron, fennel and paan and pistachio, each topped with a single flower.

We finish feeling full and satisfied with none of the usual bloat you get in Indian restaurants. Chef Arora makes judicious use of fresh fruit like pomegranate, mandarin and watermelon in his dishes, particularly in the small bites section of the menu. Pricing is keen, with the most expensive item at £9, but most hover between £3.50 and £6.50. There’s also an interesting wine selection with bottles costing just £18. For this part of town and the quality of the cooking, Hankies represents remarkable good value.

Hankies Marble Arch, Montcalm Hotel, 2 Wallenberg Place, off Cumberland Place, London W1H 7TN.

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7958 3215

dining@montcalm.co.uk

http://hankies.restaurant/

Share