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Itihaas
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Itihaas Restaurant
17 – 19 Eskbank Road,
Dalkeith,
EH22 1HD
0131 663 9800
Lunch - 12:00-2:00pm, Dinner - 5:00-11:00pm, Sunday Buffet - 12:30-9:00pm
Lea Harris
Good on street parking

I'm not unfamiliar with Itihaas; it's near my vets and I've had takeaway. However, this was the first time I've dined in the comfortable surrounds of Dalkeith's Itihaas, owner Matin Khan's Bangladeshi-cum-Indian restaurant. What is noticeable are the broad smiles from the staff as you cross the threshold. The welcome is warm and friendly as we are guided to our window table. The offer of popadoms and all the requisite accoutrements is irresistible along with a beer and the menu. It's pleasing to see, amid the normal offerings, unusual and Bangladeshi dishes, beef is rarely on menus and the last time I had liver at an Indian restaurant was over 20 years ago in Wales!

 

BOGG decides to stay traditional with chicken pakora (£4.35) followed by a tandoori platter of various meats (£13.95). I'm never conventional when confronted by things I've never seen or heard of, so jump right in with Itihaas Jingha (£6.95) and Shaker lamb (£8.25); I'll tell you about them in a wee moment.

 

Swift service and we are soon tucking into our starters. The pakora are just as we'd expected, plump bundles of meatiness, gently spiced, warmingly inviting. Jingh are king prawns; cooked to the point of succulence without being rubbery served in a sweetly sour, onion and tomato sauce. Promising hints of what's to follow.

 

His meat feast arrives hissing and spitting like an angry cat; a fiery plate of chicken tandoori, chicken and lamb tikka, minced lamb kebab and a gloriously fat king prawn. There is enough for the pair of us! We also ordered mushroom pilau (£3.45), wholemeal roti (£1.60) - unleavened bread baked in the tandoor. And a must for me, sag (spinach) bhaji (£3.50); I believe it is addictive, but it could just be that ghee makes it so sinfully delicious.

 

Now onto my main. Made with shatkora, a citrus fruit that only comes from one area of Bangladesh, the rind and flesh are amazingly astringent, but it works beautifully with the lamb and rich sauce. Matin explains that the fruit can sometimes be tart, sweet, bitter, or in this case astringent. You never know which. I love the contrast and certainly will have it again. All the meats were tender, juicy and plenty; my lamb didn't have any gristle or chewiness that I have experienced from other restaurants. The spicing is finely tuned; there is no tonsil-ripping chilli heat unless you order madras or vindaloo. I love the subtleness of the spices in Asian food, with chefs blending an endless list of powerful, fragrant exotic ingredients: garlic, cumin, fenugreek, chilli, coriander, onion, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, garam masala form a multitude of tantalising and differing tastes. A craft I much admire.

 

We share a bowl of gulab jamun, squeaky, spongy milky balls soaked in a tooth-achingly sweet syrup, which is one of two desserts made by Matin's wife; the other is kheer, an Indian rice pudding that, unfortunately, wasn't available.

 

With plenty of dishes for vegetarians and several fish dishes, I swithered, but there is always next time.

 

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