I had a business dinner with some of my all-time favourite investors, who over time have also become good friends. They love Indian food and will usually go to Gymkhana two out of their three nights in town, so this time I suggested Trishna for a change, and since it belongs to the same owners, they were keen to try.
Trishna is a bit different from Gymkhana as it serves southern Indian food, which is lighter and more centred around seafood.
We were six for dinner, which is perfect as we ordered a lot of different things and all shared.
What we ate:
Lamb chops: the starter comprises two chops, so we ordered two portions but they were very generous servings and sufficient to feed all of us. The chops were tender and rubbed in a moderately spiced marinade of Kashmiri chilli, ginger, crushed onion, kasundi mooli (daikon). A must order.
Paneer tandoor: I LOVE the paneer at Gymkhana, which is stuffed with spinach, so I wanted to try the Trishna version. They describe it on the menu as Indian Cottage cheese which puzzled one of my dining companions, but I explained that they would be squares of more like haloumi than cottage cheese, like paneer. This version was very good, served with some raw mango, mint, sweetcorn & pomegranate chat. But I still like the Gymkhana one better but this was excellent.
Nariyal scallops: served on top of stir fried vermicelli, coconut chips and with a coconut chilli chutney. The scallops were large and were well cooked, but the flavours were a bit too mellow compared with the other dishes on the table and this dish didn’t shine.
Aloo Chat: our waiter suggested this concoction with potato, masala chickpea, tamarind and sweet yoghurt, and he was spot on. A great vegetarian option and a good addition to complement the seafood and lamb starters that we ordered. This was very creamy but also had quite a spicy kick – very good.
Hariyali* bream: served in a green chilli and coriander sauce and served with smoked tomato kachumber, which is a salad with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. I wasn’t blown away by the bream and thought the sauce overpowered the delicate fish, but some people around the table loved it.
Jheenha moilee: my friend Kaleem had suggested this and it was one of our favourite dishes. King prawns in a coconut sauce with curry leaves. The sauce was very creamy but not too heavy and we used most of it to pour on the shellfish pilau which was not as exciting without the sauce.
Dorset brown crab: I should have known, I am not a brown crab girl and prefer white and large chunks of crab, preferably on a toast like at ABC kitchen. Brown crab in the UK tends to be very strong in flavour and also shredded in tiny pieces. The version at Trishna was prepared with butter, pepper, chilli and garlic and it was quite spicy but still didn’t make me a brown crab fan.
Madras lamb shank curry: believe it or not we still had room for more food after all of the above dishes so ordered some curry which showed up very quickly. The curry was absolutely delicious in a gorgeous and thick highly flavourful sauce with curry leaf and coastal spices. The curry was just a dark brown curry with lamb, not very photogenic so it hid from the camera……
Goan shellfish pilau: rice cooked in tasty broth and served with black tiger prawn and scallops with some sort of Goan spice and served with an Indian yoghurt sauce. The rice was very good and I found many large shrimps tossed in it however couldn’t identify any scallops. It was a good dish, and ever better with the sauce from the shrimp, as it wouldn’t have been that interesting alone.
Morel mushroom pilau: I am a mushroom freak, as is Dave, one of my dining companions so we insisted on trying this despite our waiter’s attempt to dissuade us from doing so, as we already had ordered one pilau. But it just sounded too appealing with wild mushrooms and morels. Sadly, it was too plain and boring and I didn’t spot any morels, which are one of my all time favourite mushroom types.
Dal: the classic yellow lentil side dish, but far too liquid in this case.
Bread basket: we would skip next time. The breads were not piping hot and were slightly dry which is upsetting considering Hoppers, their Sri Lankan sister restaurant makes the most delicious breads ever.
Chocolate gola: chocolate brownie with banana, chikki (sort of a brittle) and chilli chocolate sauce. We ordered two of this dessert as it sounded like the most appealing on the menu. It went down well, but the fact that one of them remained almost untouched tells you that it was good, but not great. Calling it a brownie is a bit misleading as it had more of a mousse texture, and the chocolate sauce lacked the chilli described on the menu. Still good but didn’t blow us away.
Cardamom Kheer: basmati rice cooked with milk and cream, soaked with green cardamom and mixed with raisins, fig paste and pistachio, served with fig kulfi. The waiter suggested this dish and it was a deliciously creamy and aromatic rice pudding. The fig kulfi was not very figgy.
Kulfi (ice cream): we got one scoop of the caramel & cashew one and it was my favourite dessert – so rich and creamy with a nice texture from the cashew. My friend got two sorbets and loved them.
In sum: I love the concept of seafood and Indian food but our favourite dishes at Trishna were similar to the ones they have at Gymkhana, but I prefer the Gymkhana versions as well as the vibe there better. The service was very weak on the night that we were there, though to be fair, our waiter was very knowledgeable and helpful. However we struggled to get his attention and waited for a very long time between ordering drinks to order the food. Maybe they were under staffed or perhaps service was slower because there was a large party of around fifteen people dining there on that evening.
*means greenery according to my Indian food expert Kaleem