“ Address: 9 Victoria Street / Edinburgh / Scotland „
Khushis claims to be one of the oldest existing Indian restaurants in Scotland, having opened their first restaurant in Edinburgh in 1947, and despite changes in premises has been going strong ever since. They are a Punjabi restaurant and all food is halal and mostly in the Punjabi tradition although there are some dishes from other parts of India. No alcohol is served in the restuarant but bringing along your own beer or wine is both accepted and common and there is no charge.
The main restaurant was in a beautiful old Edinburgh building which had a huge, high ceilinged room inside. All was very tastefully decorated using Indian and Punjabi styles but avoiding the kitsch that is typical of many Indian restaurants. Everything was of high quality, from proper wooden furniture to the cutlery to the decoration. Generally it felt classy but understated. The great part about this is that I have been to the restaurant for a number of different occasions from a quick pre-theatre dinner to dates and can work as an upmarket place or a simple meal out. Music playing does tend to be Indian pop but it is on very low in the background at a level where it isn't brash or annoying.
The menu is reasonably large, giving a range of options. As I have said everything is halal but also as you may expect from an Indian restaurant there are numerous vegetarian options. There is also a range of tandoori, lamb and chicken dishes with the usual naan breads and rices. Prices for a main dish are typically £8 with the vegetarian dishes a pound or two less and a few specialty dishes up to £12. Naan and rice are around £2 each. I particularly like that there is something for most people at the restaurant -from curries aimed very much at a non-discerning Scottish market to proper Punjabi recipes.
There are also a number of desserts, some cakes and ice-creams and more typical Indian desserts such as Kulfi and real Lassis. I have heard complaints about the lassis as many people are expecting just a yoghurt drink whereas this is blended curd served salty which many people dislike. They will also do them sweet and usually check with the customer beforehand. It is pleasant to find real lassis in Scotland though!
Typically in Indian restaurants I stick with a few of my favourites and can, therefore, rank these in order of my preference. I would say that Khushis comes near the top. Most commonly I would order a Saag Aloo, a Dal or Aloo Mattar all of which were available the last time I visited. All of them are very good, spicy but not mouth-burning hot (although they will alter this to personal taste) and used fresh ingredients. I detest eating spicy food where it seems like they have thrown in tonnes of chilli in order to cover up the fact that the food is badly made or tasteless but in these dishes I could taste ginger, cinnemon and fresh vegetables which I far prefer.
The waiters I have always found friendly and attentive without being intrusive when you are eating your meal. They are happy to give recommendations and will also tell the chefs to adapt individual dishes slightly-for instance more or less spicy. I find that food is served ata reasonable pace-not too quickly where you suspect they have flung a pre-made dish in a microwave and are not given any time to relax and enjoy your meal but also not slowly so that you are hanging around hungry and waiting for your food.
Unfortunately due to a fire in the main Victoria Street restaurant is closed for the immediate future with no set reopen date. Also when it does reopen the interior may well have been altered from what I have described above, however, I think it is likely that they would keep in tune with the previous restaurant and so will have the same food and ambiance. In the meantime there is a Khushis Diner on West Nicholson Street which has the same menu as the main restaurant in a slightly less formal setting. They are also BYOB and everything is halal.
I would highly recommend any Khushi restaurant as a quality Punjabi meal. It is a pity that their main restaurant is currently shut down but any Khushis place (they have moved in the past!) has a nice atmosphere and great food so I would be happy to try out their diner and return if and when their main restaurant re-opens.
Booking ahead for both the restaurant and diner is necessary.
Khushi's has a long tradition of serving outstanding Indian cuisine having been established in Edinburgh in 1947. When the new restaurant opened in Dunfermline earlier this year, I was keen to visit so on my birthday me and my sister treated ourselves to lunch there, keen to find out if Khushi's really did equal happiness as the menu proudly proclaimed.
We were greeted by a waiter and shown to our seats. Dining is on three levels but during lunchtime only the ground floor is used. I was impressed by the décor, the wooden floors, whitewashed stone walls and leather seating provided a stylish and modern backdrop to our meal. The restaurant is next door to Lourenzos nightclub and is separated only by a thin sliding door. On the day we visited there was an Old Firm game playing in the bar and the noise was deafening. We asked to be reseated but all the other tables were full. We did eventually get used to the noise competing with the crackly Indian music playing from the speakers but it did somewhat spoil our experience.
We ordered a chicken pakora between us for a starter. Instead of the typical bright red dish we were accustomed to, we were greeted by four long thin strips of chicken in a crispy pale brown batter accompanied by a bowl of chilli sauce. We devoured these deliciously spicy and moist morsels dipping them into the chilli sauce. The chilli sauce was also different from any we had tasted before. It was devilishly hot and had loads of deliciously crunchy chilli seeds inside it proving its freshness. I washed my pakora down with a luscious icy cold and thick mango lassi which was freshly made.
We ordered main courses from the special lunchtime menu which gives you a main course and a drink for £5.95. I ordered king prawn karahi and my sister chicken tikka masala. My prawn dish was delicious, huge succulent prawns in a delicately spiced sauce with deep fried curry leafs sprinkled over the top. I felt a little let down by the deep fried flat bread accompanying which tasted a little bland. My sister declared her curry to be the best she had ever tasted, and she has tasted several in her time! The portions were small yet enough to satisfy our appetites but some may find them disappointing.
Despite our bellies now being at bursting point, we simply couldn't resist ordering Indian sweets and coffee. I chose the rasmalai, cottage cheese dumplings poached in condensed milk and garnished with pistachios. These were like nothing I had ever tasted before but were delicious as were my sisters gulab jamun, fried khoya dumplings stuffed with pistachios and saffron and dipped in hot honey. The coffee was weak but drinkable.
The food overall was outstanding, far better than any other Indian food I have tasted before. I am going to mark the restaurant down for the poor ambience due to the proximity to Lourenzos and make sure any future visits don't coincide with major football games. The service was perfectly adequate even though the waiters were also peering through the cracks in the door to try and watch the football during our time there.
The bill came to just under £30 for lunch for two, more than we would normally pay but worth it for a treat. We will definitely eat there again in the future. The strength of the restaurant comes from its well though out and diverse menu which includes a range of vegetarian dishes, drinks and puddings unrivalled by other eateries.
Special deal at lunchtime means it cost £5.95 for a main course and drink and £3.95 for an Indian sweet and coffee. Expect to pay around £10 for a main course in the evening.
For more info visit the website at www.khushis.com