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This month, we sent our resident food expert Mel Hutchfield along to Rangoli to sample the exotic flavors of authentic Indian cuisine.
I’ve visited India many times and often cook Indian food at home, but I rarely eat at Indian restaurants in the UK as usually I’m disappointed - I’ve certainly never found a restaurant in Swindon with the fantastic flavours and variety you’d find in India.
Rangoli on Groundwell Road is named after art using brightly coloured sands or powders and the restaurant has a vibrant contemporary look. Refreshingly it’s the kind of place that will be full of couples and families, not late night drunks. We were welcomed by our enthusiastic waiter [who gave delightful service throughout the evening] and shown to a table by the window into the kitchen. I love a restaurant with the confidence to show you into the engine room and it was fascinating to watch the calm skill of the chefs. Certainly no Ramsey-like shouting here.
There are lots of dishes you’ll be familiar with such as Rogan Josh or Chicken Tikka but others you probably aren’t, such as Lausni Jhinga and Patiala Lamb Chops. Our waiter asked if we wanted the food mild, normal or spicy – we’re used to quite a bit of heat, so settled on normal.
Of course we started with poppadums with spicy tomato chutney and raita. Husband also chose the onion bhajia, which really packed a chilli punch. I tried the potli samosa, little pouches filled with a paste of spicy vegetables, served with tamarind chutney. Both were hot, spicy and delicious.
It was difficult to narrow down things we wanted to try, but Husband finally decided on the Railway Curry - tender chunks of lamb in a Southern Indian gravy, which he said was delicious. The one thing I never order in the average Indian restaurant is biryani, which usually arrives as a horrible quickly stir-fried mess of rice and meat. So fingers-crossed I ordered the chicken biryani and was delighted when a baked dish of layered moist chicken and fragrant rice arrived. The perfume of the spices was incredible and the flavour complex without being heavy.
For me there is nothing more delicious than well cooked lentils, so we ordered the daal makhani; slow-cooked black lentils, creamy and unctuous. I would have left happy if I’d had nothing but a bowl of that and bread. Oh and what bread, flaky buttery paratha and the lightest naan I’ve ever tasted.
We couldn’t resist the desserts. My gajjar ka halwa [carrot pudding] was fresh and surprisingly not too sweet, perfectly matched with vanilla ice cream. But I was very jealous of Husband’s spicy pineapple chargrilled in the tandoor and served with mango kulfi [that’s definitely on my list for next time].
Head Chef Sanjay Kumar Ujjainwal spent 8 years at Michelin starred Benares in London. We were lucky enough to eat there earlier this year and I can honestly say that the food at Rangoli was equally as good - at a fraction of the cost. Another bonus is that they also do takeaway of the full menu and I have no doubt we’ll be ordering soon.
It was definitely one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a very long time and I’d urge you to try this little gem. If you love spice and want to a great night out [or in] you must visit Rangoli.