Navadhanya, Edinburgh: bright and subtle spice

Navadhanya is a new Indian restaurant not far from Haymarket. In a growing trend towards Indian dining, they offer a focused menu of special dishes. With a head chef who has worked at Tamarind, you’re in safe hands. Bring an apetite and fully working tastbuds: the food at Navadhanya is subtle and full of flavour.

Years ago, I lived on Haymarket Terrace. The area around my block wasn’t the most reputable back than and there were no decent restaurants. Things have changed. The only shop I recognised when we walked along was the Ladies’ Golf Shop, which one of my flatmates (not a golfer) was unaccountably obsessed with. Navadhanya is at the corner just before the Apex Hotel, as the tenements of Haymarket Terrace give way to sandstone villas.

Marinated scallops with mango and tomato coulis. Navadhanya, Edinburgh.

Marinated scallops with mango and tomato coulis.

White walls and ceiling make the dining room feel airy and bright. It’s a calm, restful space where dark tables and cream napkins let the colourful food shine. We were warmly welcomed by Madan, the manager, who took us to our table and told us about the Cambridge restaurant he also has. He hopes that the Edinburgh venue will become just as busy.

The amuse bouche, a potato cake stuffed with spinach and apricots and served with mango chutney and beetroot puré, was a good indicator of what joy was to come. It was lovely, a very moreish mouthful.

Tempting teepee

C ordered the dosa to start. They looked beautiful — a tempting teepee hiding aromatic potatoes — and tasted just as good. Tomato and lentil sauces added depths and complexity. My Malabari scallops, marinated with mustard before being pan fried and served with mango and tomato coulis, were sweet and tangy.

The chef sent us a dish of papdi chaat, a house speciality. It was fabulous: a mound of chickpeas, sprinkled with crisp papdi and covered in yogurt and tamarind sauces. Crunchy, soft, sweet and spicy all at once: I understand why chef Tharveshkan is proud of that dish. Inspired by Indian street food, it delivers texture and flavour with panache.

Rich, aromatic and entirely delicious: dinner at Navadhanya, Edinburgh.

Rich, aromatic and entirely delicious: dinner at Navadhanya.

Meltingly tender and aromatic

For mains, I had a dish I’d seen on Navadhanya’s Facebook page: the Hyderabadi lamb shank. It’s slow cooked and served with a creamy, aromatic sauce with caramelised onions and cardamom. This kind of dish is why I don’t become fully vegetarian: the meat fell off the bone, was meltingly tender and aromatic, perfectly accompanied by with the rich golden sauce. It needed no rice, no side, other than a plain naan, soft at the edges and with crisp bubbles in the middle. Sublime!

C. had the vegetable biryani with a side of my favourite lentil dish, dal tadka. The biryani was cooked with a pastry lid to keep the rice moist. (An edible lid that was promptly devoured.) The dal worked almost as a sauce with the rice and vegetables, making a filling and very tasty dish.

The king of carrots

I have a weakness for Indian desserts, but seldom room to eat them. This time, I found space. While C. went for the gulab jamon–fluffy golden, syrup-soaked balls–I have the carrot halwa. Milk and butter brought out the natural sweetness in the carrot, making a fudgy, sweet conconction with the bright orange of carrots. The carrot is one of my hero vegetables: it’s tasty, it’s good for you, it has an amazing colour and can be used in all kinds of dishes. Carrot halwa is the most ingenious use ever, making this very saintly root deliciously naughty.

We had a lovely evening and were very happy when we left. We’d watched a varied clientele come and go. At one table a family celebrated an event, at another, business men relaxed after a day of meetings. Couples like C and me shared dishes and chatted at other tables. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food great and the service very attentive. I’ll be back for the seven-course tasting menu before long.


88 Haymarket Terrace,
Edinburgh, EH12 5LQ
Telephone: 0131 2817187

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Caroline dined on the invitation of Navadhanya.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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  1. Pingback: Bright and subtle spice: Navadhanya, Edinburgh – UK Food and Drink News – Nosh Online

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