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This was probably the best vegetarian meal of my life. In all my years of reviewing, I can think of very few restaurants that I have enjoyed as much. The array of Indian dishes we ate zinged and sparkled with vibrant flavour.
Crispy Bhajias were accompanied by a brilliantly fierce relish of coriander, carrot, tomato, fresh chilli and lemon juice. The pick of the starters was sev dahi puri –little round pastry puffs filled with chickpea and potato, topped with strands of fried ground flour and spicy yogurt; one of those dishes that detonates explosions of different flavours.
The Shayona dosa was a remarkable thing: a three-feet-long cylinder of crisp, brown fried rice flour, like an elongated crêpe, filled with gorgeously spiced potato and served with coconut chutney. I shall be dreaming about this meal. It was sensational.
We relished the crisp samosa, the uncommonly light bateta wada (a ball of spiced mashed potato in deep-fried batter) and the spongy methi gota (fenugreek dumpling) – served with four chutneys. To follow, there was a choice of South Indian ‘light meals’, including dosas and idlis (and a list of curries that roamed through India. Al In all Shayona is an uplifting, if not a religious, experience.
Once inside Shayona Restaurant, it’s smart & suitably exotic – from the chandeliers & wall paintings to the gold-relief panels & foliage. The menu’s heart is in the subcontinent’s vegetarian & sattvic traditions (no pungent garlic or onions), but it roams freely, picking up dishes from all over.
Aloo papdi chaat, samosas, bhel-pooris & kachori are there to be nibbled, while dosas, assorted veggie curries & dhals offer something more sustaining.
What stole India News Bulletin’s heart is Shayona Restaurant’s starters and “Light Meals”. These sections have hidden treasures that will transport you to the streets of an Indian region of your choice. There are dosas and uthappas served with coconut chutney and sambar; there is a chaat section featuring Aloo Papdi Chaat, Pani Puri, Bombay Bhel and Samosa Chaat; there is Rajasthani speciality – Khasta Kachori Chaat, and there are all-time favourites such as Paneer 65 and Spring Rolls among others.
For those who like a bit of excitement, Shayona serves sizzlers too. Featuring a contemporary décor blended with traditional Indian artefacts, Shayona Restaurant is an ideal place for a quiet evening meal for a couple or for a family. The restaurant is family-friendly with ample child dining seats.
Shayona is situated in Neasden, in the grounds of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir with two dedicated car parks nearby. To secure your Shayona experience, call us now on 020 8965 3365.