Modern Indian restaurant, Talli Joe, has been near the top of my list of hot spots to visit since it opened about a year ago. My tight schedule and the restaurant’s popularity (book ahead for weekend evenings!) made that tougher than usually for slipping in for a meal. But an invitation to preview its new Dabba Mania lunch menu presented an ideal opportunity finally for me to have a taste. And it was definitely worth the wait.
Launched yesterday (1 February), the Dabba Mania menu finds inspiration in Bombay’s dabbawallas (lunchtime deliverymen) and their affordable and fresh dabba lunchbox offerings. Talli Joe aims to keep with the dabba tradition with a £10 express lunch menu of items served within 10 minutes (or it’s free) and available from noon to 3pm (eat-in only). Presented in colourful, three-tiered tiffin boxes (just like in Bombay), dishes are to change regularly while always keeping one vegetarian, one meat, and one pescatarian option while reflecting the vast range of Indian cuisine.
During my tasting I tried an assortment of dabbas. Here are some highlights:
The Amritsar with broccoli Amritsar, butter chicken kulcha (like a stuffed naan), butter chicken gray and mango pickle was a definite favourite. So was the Kochi, featuring cabbage thoran with winter veg ishtew, string hoppers, tomato chutney and podi (course dry spice powder). Both were extremely moreish, fiery and fully flavoured.
The visit was also chance to enjoy an especially yummy Black Gajar Halwa (heritage black carrots with salted peanut brittle, £3.75) for dessert as well a couple of cocktails. The Badnam Milk Punch (whisky, almond and cashew puree, saffron syrup and milk, £9) was particularly memorable for its potency and taste.
Talli Joe is located at 152-156 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8HL. Find out more at tallijoe.com.