I reviewed Shri Bheema’s on Nicolson Street, opposite the Festival Theatre, back in July 2016 and loved the fact that not only do they serve South and North Indian cuisine but it’s also a great restaurant if you have food allergies as they list all the dishes and the allergens contained.
So I was delighted to be invited to try their other branch on Constitution Street for an exclusive, invite only evening of their authentic Indian food and signature dishes, paired along with wines from their new wine list and also other new drinks from Keith Brewery and Alnwick Gin, which are being introduced this month.
My fellow diners were Shri Bheema’s regulars and friends from the Indian community; always a good sign that the cuisine is going to be good.
If you think wine doesn’t go with curry, think again
Whilst many people will go for a lager with a curry, there’s still a deep-rooted aversion to the idea that curry goes with wine, despite the fact that many Indian restaurants now have decent wine lists. Maybe we’ve just been looking at the wrong types of wines.
Don’t generalise about India’s food with wine
I feel it’s impossible to generalise about India’s food with wine because the country is so vast: it depends on the heat level and the way the spices are treated.
We were served starters of medium Hara Bhara Kebabs (patties made of spinach, chickpeas and potatoes with hints of spices); mild Hariyali Kebabs, which were vibrant green in colour but delicious (grilled boneless pieces of chicken packed with flavours of mind and yoghurt) and hot Gilafi Seekh Kebabs (grilled mixed lamb mixed with herbs and spices).
Jess from Matthew Clark was on hand to help guests choose from the vast list of 22 different types of wines that Shri Bheema’s were looking to select from, with the help of their customers. There were at least three very low alcohol wines on offer too at .5%ABV, which would be good for any drivers.
I wasn’t driving, so I stuck to the ones with alcohol in!
I am not in the ABC gang (Anything But Chardonnay). In fact, quite the opposite and I also love Chenin Blancs and Viogniers, which I think go well with mild, creamy or buttery curries and especially chicken.
A Riesling from New Zealand or Austria pairs particularly well with more spiced curries but sadly the German Riesling-Gewurztraminer they originally had on the menu had been decided too sweet to include.
The Ca’ Del Lago Pinot Grigio from Italy, with its green apple with peach and pear notes, with a finish of elderflower, went well with the spicy starters.
A curry feast
For mains there was a mild Paneer Makhani (rich and creamy cheese cooked in butter with tomato and onion bread sauce), which I liked paired with Shri Bheema’s own Black Label Chardonnay, which is their house wine. I also tried the Eleve Marsanne-Viognier, with peach blossom notes and citrus, which worked well with this creamy dish, with the Marsanne giving some structure to the Viognier.
We also had a medium Chicken Kadai, cooked with garam masala, mixed peppers and other Indian spices; and a hot Lamb Chettinad, which is a traditional South Indian curry with rich flavours of home ground spices cooked with coconut and curry leaves. This dish paired well with the Los Romeros Malbec from Chile but it would have gone equally well with the Black Label Shiraz, which is their house red.
Keith Beers all have one thing in common, no chemicals
Also on offer to try were a selection of beers from Keith Brewery in the heart of Speyside. Whilst their beers are as different as chalk and cheese, they all have one thing in common, no chemicals.
We tried samples of Pale Keith (5% ABV), a pale ale bursting with hoppy and elderflower flavours; Larger Keith (4.5% ABV), a lager with malty characteristics with a lovely smoky finish, which would pair well with any of the spicy curries on offer; and a Pump’d Keith, which at 6% ABV needs to be treated with caution. Packed with spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, this dark amber pumpkin ale would go well with a spicy, tomato based curry.
My favourite by far was Herr Keith (4.5% ABV), a wheat beer, with a lovely nose of bananas, pineapple and citrus fruits. Light and bubbly, it was very refreshing.
Alnwick Gin, a premium, quality, small batch hand-crafted gin
Finally we finished off our drinks’ sampling with Alnwick Gin, which Shri Bheema’s is stocking. A premium, quality, small batch hand-crafted gin, made in the heart of Alnwick, Northumberland, Alnwick Gin uses 11 locally foraged herbs and botanicals including rosemary, rose hip, lavender and juniper. Each batch is limited to just 100 litres to control quality.
Shri Bheema’s mantra is that they treat their customers like their family and that’s exactly how we felt that evening, with them inviting regulars and Edinburgh Foody to help them choose their new wine and drinks’ list.
All the staff bent over backwards to make our dining experience really personal and if you like Indian cuisine, you’ll be treated to delicious, authentic Indian food, using quality Scottish produce prepared with a great selection of drinks and service on offer too.
Constitution Street, Edinburgh
Telephone: 0131 555 5777 & 0131 544 9467
Nicolson Street, Edinburgh (opposite the Festival Theatre)
Telephone: 0131 556 7777 & 0131 558 1408
Kerry was a guest of Shri Bheema’s.