My son had been singing the praises of Ambal’s since a visit last year.
So when it came to choosing somewhere for a birthday meal, he suggested we give it a try … he was sure we wouldn’t be disappointed … he was right.
Our warm welcome to the attractive, modern eatery set the tone for the rest of the evening with nothing too much trouble for our smiling, endlessly helpful and informative waiter. And choices on the menu were another delight – a host of dishes we’d never heard of but which got our taste buds tingling.
The quality of the pappadums and flavourful dips gave us the first hint of what was to come. And a surprise tiny taster on a small square of slate just increased the anticipation.
The shredded chicken and chickpea patties might have been small but were big on flavour, spiced with the restaurant’s own rich and warming garam masala, with dots of tasty beetroot chutney and spicy mustard dips.
I discovered a new favourite starter with my choice of Jinga Joshina king prawns – which were beautifully presented on a fish-shaped plate. They tasted just as good as they looked. The massive, juicy, tender butterflied prawns came with a delicately-spiced yoghurt and cashew nut sauce flavoured with green cardamon. It was divine.
My husband was equally pleased with his choice of chicken tikka to start. This was another beautifully presented and very tasty and dish. Big chunks of tender chicken again perfectly spiced and full of flavour, superbly matched with the yoghurt and mint chutney.
The starters had been of such high quality and generous portions … would the mains be just as good? Of course they were and there was also no stinting on portion size with these dishes.
The waiter gave such an inviting description of the chef’s dish of the day – Chettinad chicken – that although he’d actually decided what he was going to have, my husband changed his mind.
He said it was the right choice. The plump chicken breast was so juicy and tasty, and the rich, creamy sauce had clearly been created by a expert in Indian spices with one lovely flavour leading to another, ending with a hit of fiery warming spice.
It got a big thumbs up.
It might have been good, but I reckon the Keralan Mooile sea bass was even better. A beautifully-cooked fillet of sea bass with a divine sweet and softly-spiced coconut milk stew, tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves, and accompanied by spiced potatoes. This was cooking of a very high quality … I could have licked the plate clean.
The accompanying pilau rice was light and fluffy and the naans kept up the high standard … especially the Peshwari naan filled with cashew nut, coconut, mango and almonds. So yummy.
When the waiter came to order desserts we decided we’d probably had enough to eat.
Then came another delightful surprise. He asked if we had 10 minutes to spare as the chef would like us try out a new dessert he’d created.
Set on a slate platter, the pretty cake of carrot and rice topped with a ball of coconut ice cream looked intriguing and was one of the most unusual desserts we’ve had. The soft flavour of cardamon and sweet spices melding perfectly with the soft ice cream. Lovely.
Aberdeen has no shortage of good Indian restaurants, with the bar set pretty high … Ambal’s just moved it up a notch.