Since I was child, I have suffered from an allergy to shellfish and seafood so I sympathise with people who can’t eat certain food groups as it can be quite limiting and the need to explain and constantly remind hosts when invited for dinner what foods you can and cannot eat.
It’s not being fussy either. For some people with allergies, for example in the case of a peanut allergy, it can be life threatening, or in the case of a person with IBS and suffering intolerances to certain food groups, it can cause that person a life of misery.
I recently met a colleague from one of the agencies I work with for whom food is a constant battle. She has recently been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and has started to write a really interesting blog about her quest to change what she eats and adopt a low FODMAP diet.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates (sugars) that are found in foods, yet not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs.
Her interesting blog contains low FODMAP recipes and places to eat out in Edinburgh that will accommodate her food intolerances. We talked at length about how she loves a curry as does her new-ish boyfriend but they’ve yet to venture out for one as that particular type of cuisine contains many ingredients, including onions and garlic, that can be particularly debilitating to someone suffering from IBS.
So it was interesting that I was invited out to dine at a new Indian restaurant in Edinburgh that is going the extra mile to help people with food allergies and intolerances to make an informed choice.
Shri Bheema’s is an award winning restaurant, owned and managed by a close knit family team. Originally started in Aberdeen, they have now ventured into Scotland’s capital with two new restaurants, occupying what used to be the old locations of Suruchi’s in Nicolson Street and Constitution Street. They’ve also opened up in Milton Keynes too, with the reason being that it has a wide demographic of Indian people.
The Nicolson Street restaurant is not the easiest to find as it and its adjoining neighbours, are shrouded in scaffolding but persevere as you’ll not be disappointed.
My dining companion, KB, and I were greeted by the lovely manager Raj. Their mantra is that they treat their customers like their family and that’s exactly how we felt. All the staff bent over backwards to make our dining experience really personal and I got the feeling that any dietary requests would try to be accommodated.
The restaurant, on an early Friday evening, was busy with a varied clientele, including a high proportion of Indian families of all ages enjoying the food; always a good sign.
Shri Beema’s serves South and North Indian food and whilst you will find a korma on here, I’d challenge you to further explore some of the delicacies on offer or ask Raj for his advice.
We started with poppadoms and a range of dips, whilst we perused the extensive menu. What’s excellent is that the menu explains the common food allergies and then lists each choice with the appropriate key, giving people with food intolerances an informed option. They also list the heat of each dish, which would appeal to those who are put off Indian food because of the potential spiciness.
There are classical starters, starters from the tandoor and street food starters. We chose two from the street food options, deciding to go off the beaten track, for a change.
The Maduri Lamb Suka, tender pieces of lamb marinated and simmered with South Indian spices, seasoned with onion, pepper, and garnished with a hint of coconut and fresh curry leaves was delicious and fragrant as was the Kodi Vepuda, which is finely seasoned chicken, cooked with onion, special Andhra spices and pan fried with garlic, black pepper and curry leaves.
Raj was keen that we try the South Indian delicacies of dosas which are a thin crispy pancake made of rice and urad beans. We sampled this with a trio of accompaniments including a lentil dahl, a coconut and tomato chutney. I’ll definitely be revisiting these in the future.
For our mains I tried the Murgh Lababdar, a Hyderabad dish, which was a grilled chicken breast served in a lababdar sauce made with ginger, mixed pepper, coriander leaves and cream, served with rice. It was listed as low heat spice and an allergen listing of 7, which meant it contained milk products. As an alternative to a butter chicken, a korma or passanda that I normally opt for as I like the creaminess and flavours, this was a great alternative and an opportunity to try something different.
KB opted for the Goan Lamb Vindaloo from the ‘regional non-veg’ selection. Made from a paste that blends chillis with tumeric, cumin, coriander and authentic spices, this Portuguese Goan style curry comes with an allergy indication of containing mustard. It also comes with a spice warning of three chillis, meanings it’s hot but Raj asked our requirements and we asked if they could hold back slightly on the chillis. What resulted was a dish that had a warm kick but was not overpowering.
The dessert menu is simple but contains options like kulfis and coconut ice-cream. Unfortunately we were too full to try anything else!
Shri Bheema’s is a welcome addition to the Edinburgh restaurant scene and I’ll definitely be back. It’s well placed for the Festival theatre and I admire what they are doing to accommodate their customers, including those with food allergies and intolerances.
And I hope now Moira will finally get the opportunity to have a curry with her boyfriend and add this restaurant to her list of recommended restaurants. They deserve it.
Nicolson Street, Edinburgh (opposite the Festival Theatre)
0131 556 7777 & 0131 558 1408
Constitution Street, Edinburgh
0131 555 5777 & 0131 544 9467
Kerry dined as a guest of Shri Bheema’s.