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Cutting Chaii - tea for two

Diana Spencer

It's unusual for a brand new restaurant to be an instant success, especially one that is slightly off the beaten track. However, after just two months, Cutting Chaii's reputation is building momentum. It is thanks, says the owner Sajal, to overwhelming support from the local community.

The restaurant's location has helped, certainly. Salamander Street's slightly seedy repute is definitely a thing of the past, with lots of new residential developments in the works. Plus Cutting Chaii is just a stone's throw from busy Constitution Street and The Shore. The new restaurant/bar is modern in design, and though small, there is plenty of space between tables. Authenticity is important. The name, Cutting Chaii, refers to a tradition, particularly in Mumbai, of sharing a tea between two. Literally cutting it in half, which is what diners are expected to do with the tapas-style food. All the dishes are based on real Mumbai cafe food, rather than the more British curries in most Indian restaurants. This means there is a wide variety on offer, with grilled meats, curries, vegetarian options, wraps, pastries, salads and kebabs all featuring on the menu. Three to four dishes are recommended for two people, and for tapas, the portions are pretty generous. On Sajal's recommendation, we started with the Khasta Kachori - deep-fried pastry with dal and potatoes, served with chutney, sauce, peanuts and salad - not something I had ever come across before, but it was sweet, spicy, crisp and fresh. Our main course selections were all very different but equally brilliant. The Lamb Boti had been marinated in a blend of spices for 24 hours before chargrilling, to produce succulent meat, served with mint yoghurt and salad. The Karahi Lamb curry was perfectly slow cooked in a sauce with green chillis, and was, unsurprisingly, rather fiery; while the Mother Butter Chicken was the creamiest, richest butter chicken I have ever had, but still with a kick of spice. The naan bread, the real test of any Indian restaurant, was fluffy, bubbly, slightly charred, soft and sweet. The latest Leith sensation is definitely a big hit with the locals for its freshly-cooked, locally-sourced and flavoursome food; but book early to avoid disappointment. Though the restaurant was fairly quiet on a Thursday night, the phone was constantly ringing with new reservations.

Cutting Chaii 18-20 Salamander Street, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, EH6 7HR 0131 553 1000 Wed - Mon : 05:00 PM to 11:00 PM Tuesday - Closed

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