The Pakora Bar - Punjabi Street Food
“No-one wants a soggy pakora”.
This is the reply I get from Mark, one of the owners of The Pakora Bar, which has moved to new premises (from Hanover Street) at 111 Holyrood Road; I am quizzing him about cooking the crispy, flaky, moreish pakoras and samosas that are the backbone of the menu at this new venue. Although he won’t reveal the bespoke spice blends The Pakora Bar use, he does tell me that for the batter the cooks mix Be Free gluten free flour with Gram Flour (also GF as it is made with chickpeas).
When me and Mr Bite visit for the opening we receive a warm Sikh welcome from Mark, his brother and co-owner Paul, dad George and various other relatives. The Pakora Bar really is a family affair.
Walls are painted burnt orange, tables are stencilled with mandalas and orange and yellow garlands, traditional colours associated with the Sikh religion, enhance the cheerful décor. Sisters and mum are wearing scarlet saris and they greet guests with platters of multi-coloured Indian sweets. But there is a bit of tension in the air. Everyone is waiting for the pakoras!
When they are served we get to taste mushroom, vegetable, chicken, black pudding, cauliflower and haggis versions alongside minced lamb samosas and potato samosas. I particularly like the aromatic caraway that forms part of the spice mix for the chicken and when I grab a moment with Mark he emphasises how they use only fillets, discarding the pieces of inferior poultry that others may use as a staple ingredient in pakora. I also really like the lamb samosas which burst with flavour but all the food is cleverly spicy (not just hot) and delicious. Everything is well-seasoned too.
The menu includes mango and passion fruit lassis, wine, beer, mocktails, cocktails and curries. The restaurant is over two floors and there are 130 covers so it's roomy; which is more than can be said for my jeans when I head home replete. (S Wilson)
The Pakora Bar - 111 Holyrood Road - 0131 202 5200.
Open Tuesday - Sunday 12 pm - 9.30 pm