Our intern, Lauren Shaw, visited Kebab Mahal on September 22nd, 2011. Here are her thoughts on one of Edinburgh’s most popular Indian restaurants…
I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t know anything about Indian food. Aside from enjoying an occasional curry dish now and then, I haven’t ventured very far into the cuisine. So, I really didn’t know what to expect when I headed over to Kebab Mahal, in Nicolson Square, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile. I’d been told that this place was an Edinburgh institution, and that they had some of the best Indian food in the city. But when I first approached the store front, which to me looked like your typical old, hole-in-the-wall, NY pizza joint, I wasn’t very impressed.
However, I was determined to be fair, and wasn’t passing any judgements until I had at least gone in and tasted the food. Inside it was pretty tiny and not decorated super fancy, but it seemed pretty busy, with a nice mix of people and ethnicities present- a good sign that the restaurant had a decent reputation within the community. The staff were very attentive as soon as I approached the counter, and all had on white shirts and black pants, which I thought was a nice touch for such a small and rather informal place.
Curry was going to be my safe choice since I knew it was something I could handle, but I had come a long way for this meal and felt the need to make it count, so I ordered a Chicken Biryani for £6.85. It arrived pretty quickly, with a small soup on the side which I hadn’t expected (later I found out this was actually a sauce…), and once I saw it I could already tell that it would be pretty filling.
The sauce was nice and hot, not too thick, and filled with good sized vegetables, and while the chicken itself wasn’t the most juicy or tasty I’d ever had, there was a LOT of it (rice too!) in large chunks. The dish was pretty spicy, which I’d anticipated, but I was provided with a big pitcher of cold water and since it was pretty chilly outside I didn’t mind too much.
Before I left I made sure to take time to look over the take out menu and counter which seemed to have a good selection of breads, kebabs, pizzas and sodas. There were also quite a few desserts that were offered, including a tantalizing range of ice creams that were sure to put out the fire from any hot and spicy dish.
Overall, If you are near the Old Town/Royal Mile, and your looking for some great value food away from the tourist trap type restaurants and cafes, then this is a great shout.
You can find ‘Kebab Mahal’ right on Nicolson Square, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile.