So I’m back home in Brighton and Spring seems to have arrived, at least for today. This weekend marks the beginning of a couple of weeks off work (hurrah!) and I also have Mama Lemur visiting. Between preparing for a houseguest and catching up with all the work I missed while in New Orleans, there hasn’t been all that much time for cooking this week. But as today is my mum’s birthday, we had the perfect excuse to go out to eat instead, and we went for a celebratory lunch at the Chilli Pickle.
Brightonian foodies probably know about the Chilli Pickle already, as the restaurant has already garnered a string of awards and it’s always busy. It opened last year in a small space in the Lanes, but has recently moved to substantially bigger premises opposite the public library. The owners seem a bit frazzled from the process of moving, but the space looks chic and modern, and despite the large number of tables the service remains efficient and friendly. The concept is regional Indian food, modern in presentation and style but drawing from fairly traditional dishes. The focus is on small plates based on street food, but there are also thalis, dosa and kebabs. It’s thus ideal for lunch, and the small plate to thali range offers both light and hearty meals. There are also several creative and tasty vegetarian dishes on the menu at any time.
Mama Lemur went the small plate route, including this Indian-style kedgeree of smoked haddock, rice and dal with a poached duck egg on top. Regular readers will know that I have an irrational phobia of eggs, so I didn’t taste it, but it looks delicious. Mama Lemur felt the haddock was less fishy than the Scottish version, but otherwise the dish was a hit.
Mr Lemur and I had thalis: he his standard order of keema muttar (minced lamb with peas) and I a new dish of Rajasthani laal maas, or mutton in a fiery red sauce. He always has the keema muttar; I don’t think he even looks at the menu any more, and I can see why. It’s reliably delicious with a rich flavour of lamb, a mild but well-spiced sauce and lots of peas. It came with a lightly sweet cabbage thoran, a bright pink beet raita, potatoes cooked with curry leaf and mustard seeds, a mixed lentil dal, and a chilli pickle, as well as breads and rice.
My thali centred on shoulder of Sussex mutton braised in a dark red chili-infused curry. Laal maas is a well-known Rajasthani dish that is made with either lamb or goat and that gets its red colour and fiery character from the number of red chilies that are used in the sauce. This version wasn’t incredibly hot (by my standards, YMMV) but had a lovely depth of flavour and a good chili kick. It came with a simple cucumber raitha that balanced the heat nicely, a fresh and sour lime pickle, plus the same thoran, potato and dals as the other thali.
If you’re down in Brighton for the day from London, or if you’re a local on the lookout for a good Indian lunch in the centre of town, I don’t think you can do better than The Chilli Pickle.
The Chilli Pickle, 17 Jubilee St, Brighton BN1 1GE