Restaurants

The Bhaji Shop – Thali Cafe

The traditional idea of British curry has evolved in recent years, with more unique and individual restaurants opening up in cities all over the UK, including Sheffield’s own Urban Choola, and The Bhaji Shop – Thali Cafe on Chesterfield Road. An Anglo-Indian take on our nation’s favourite food had to be investigated….

The Bahji Shop is a little beacon of turquoise and pink prettiness on Chesterfield Road, and the exterior, including a pink bicycle above the door, is just the beginning. Inside, painted doors are hung on the whitewashed walls as ‘specials’ chalkboards, fairy lights twinkle and beautiful printed fabrics cover the seats. This leads to a bright, uncluttered but interesting space, which creates a cosy eating experience in its relatively small dimensions.

thali-cafe-inside

Open for almost 12 months The Bahji Shop is busy even midweek with regulars and new faces wanting to try a different kind of Indian fare. Booking is recommended! The atmosphere is relaxed enough for a weeknight meal with mates, but quirky enough to make that meal a little more special than usual.

The menu is pretty straightforward, with tapas-like starters or sharing platters; the sharing platter of onion bahjis, spinach bahjis, sweet and sticky paneer and vegetable samosas is a clever combination of flavours, and the poppadum’s, combined with the chutneys, onions and dips, are light and tasty . The pineapple chutney was divine, as was the fresh mint yoghurt dip. There are also individual starter plates, with daily specials (such as paneer stuffed peppers).

thali-cafe-food-03

Being a thali cafe, the mains are just that; a choice of meat, fish or veg curry served with flatbreads, rice, dahl, salad and chutneys. Specials for each choice are displayed on the walls and change regularly. Beautifully presented in gold-trimmed dishes, the food is delicately spiced with really distinct and interesting flavours. The red coconut and vegetable curry was smooth and creamy, and the tandoori rotisserie chicken curry we sampled was mildly hot with a kick of spice in the aftertaste. This is not food to make your face sweat. There’s no obvious hit of heat and you won’t find a Vindaloo here; instead you can enjoy the subtleties of delicate flavours, herbs, spices and cream. This is Indian-inspired food perfect for “people who don’t usually like Indian food” (that would be me then….).

thali-cafe-food

The portions are big enough for sharing which is brilliant for greedy people like myself who just have to have a taste of everyone’s meal, and there’s enough to leave you comfortably full, without feeling stuffed. In fact, you should have just enough room left for something sweet, and The Bahji Shop can help you out with that too. The selection of homemade desserts and cakes all looked delicious, but a recommendation from staff to try the twice-baked chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream (served in a cute tea cup) was a winning manoeuvre!

The enthusiasm of the team is evident; they genuinely care about serving good food and ensuring people have a great time on their watch. Which explains why people obviously keep coming back…. myself now included!

 

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