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There’s no getting away from the fact that eating out in Norway is very costly. Even a simple wrap for a quick fix lunch will set you back about £8.00. In Scandinavia we’ve often found that “ethnic” restaurants tend to be slightly cheaper, and eating vegetarian dishes will save you a bit more; as fans of Indian food, this is something we are always happy to do.
There are numerous Indian restaurants in Oslo and we chose one in the Grunnerlokka district just to the north of the centre. We didn’t have a reservation but were able to get a table for two on a Saturday night. The restaurant was reasonably busy but we were placed in a corner and felt a little cut off from the rest of the restaurant but it was arranged that tables for two were in one part of the restaurant, while the larger tables were clustered together in another part.
The interior was nicely decorated and the restaurant was very comfortable. It was almost design kit Indian shabby chic but it would mean to criticise it for that reason. My only complaint was that it was a little too dimly lit; my partner struggled a little to read the menu and I’d have liked to have got a better look at my food. ( A digital camera always helps if you encounter this problem)
All the staff we came into contact with spoke very good English so I had no concerns when I had to explain to them about my nut allergy; I had complete confidence that the dishes I was ordering did not contain nuts. Although the staff didn’t really approach us at table much, I did feel that their presence was a little intrusive in that they would stand along the front of the bar watching the silently diners, something I found a bit creepy.
The menu is fairly standard and similar to that of a British style “curry house” with a few “specials” thrown in. We both decided just to have a main course but we pleased to find complimentary popadoms and a pickle tray presented to us after we’d ordered; the pickles were served in little copper pots and presented on a stylish black tray, making a nice visual statement. The mango chutney appeared to be homemade because it had a much richer colour than the Sharwoods usually dished out these days in cheaper UK curryhouses and it also contains generous pieces of real mango. The chilli pickle met the approval of Himself, who is a more daring tester than myself, while the bright green pickle proved to be a vibrant and flavoursome coriander chutney with a fresh and exciting taste.
I chose aloo matter (a potato and pea curry) while my partner picked the saag paneer (a spinach and Indian cheese dish). We ordered one portion of rice and one portion of nan bread to share. The food was presented in ornate gold coloured lidded pots which was a nice touch even if the portions could have been more generous. There was a reasonable amount of rice however, which was refilled free of charge during the meal. Both dishes were delicious: the aloo matter proved to be a worthy main course rather than a large side dish as is often the case with meat free meal in Indian restaurants. The flavours were rich and the dish was spicy without blowing your head off. The potato was just cooked so it still had a fairly firm texture, rather than being cooked to mush. The sag paneer was equally good and they hadn’t skimped on the paneer as many restaurants do. The paneer had been fired off first to give the pieces a lovely golden colour and a slight crispiness to the edges, which is always preferable to the pieces being simply dumped in the sauce. This one was a builder, starting off very flavoursome but mild, and gradually building to a vibrant heat.
In Oslo terms we thought this meal was good value. The sag paneer cost 149 NOK (Norwegian Kroner) which is approximately £16 (correct in Oct 2010); expensive compared to such a dish in a British restaurant but actually reasonable for an evening meal in Oslo (you could eat cheaper by having your main meal at lunchtime and taking advantage of a set meal special). A lamb dish would set you back around 200 NOK. Including drinks (a couple of beers, a lassi and a Diet Coke), our bill came to a shade under £50, not bad at all if you compare it with the meal we had at Kaffistova which included only one soft drink and comprised two small main courses only and cost around £35 (also reviewed on Ciao).
The bill was presented with a little wooden pot of fragrant seeds, a lovely way to cleanse the palate, and so much nicer than a couple of imperial mints. Even after paying we didn’t feel under pressure to give up the table, the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming and we were able to make our evening nicely drawn out, in spite of the food being delivered rather quickly.
There are loads of Indian restaurants in Oslo but I’d happily make a recommendation of this one on the basis of comfortable surroundings, tasty food and moderate prices.
Pictures of New Anarkali, Oslo
The restaurant, situated in the Grunnerlokka district is a short walk or tram ride from the centre of Oslo