Navadhanya – (2020)

It was 5 years ago today that I went on my first date with my now fiance to Navadhanya. Today, we decided to head back to the place where it all started for our 5 year anniversary.

The place hasn’t changed much in the 5 years it’s been open. It’s a very small restaurant which uses its space well. Even though it’s the size of a small pub, it didn’t feel claustrophobic.

The first thing I noticed was the 3 Micheline certificates on the wall, proudly displayed for everyone to see. A constant reminder of how lucky we are to have not one, but several, Micheline rated restaurants in a city of a mere 100,000 people.

We were warmly greeted by the friendly and attentive staff who showed us to our seats. We were given a choice of drinks which included both Cobra and Kingfisher on tap. We were also shown the menu which has a modest selection. Clearly this was a place which put quality over quantity. Everything here was a speciality, and even though there was not a huge quantity on the menu, there was still something for everyone, including a balance of meat dishes and vegetarian options. I’m confident you’ll find something for everyone here despite the fact it probably had 2/3 the selection of the usual menus you’ll find in an Indian restaurant.

I also noticed that this isn’t your usual British Indian food that you’ll normally get at your local, but a place which prides itself of giving you a small taste of everything which India has to offer. This is a great place to come if you are a lover of Indian food and want to explore the country’s rich and varied selection of food a little more.

The prices were on the expensive side but you could already tell by the menu (and the three Micheline certificates on the wall) that you are paying for quality.

We decided to order Saffroni Chicken, Papdi Chaat, and Kasudi Jhinga king prawns for starters.

We both have a very high standard of prawns after traveling across Vietnam several years ago and never thought we’d find anything to match the tiger king prawns of Ha Long Bay, but these Kasudi Jhinga king prawns were as good, if not better. They were so meaty and bursting with flavour. I can’t recommend these enough! They were so juicy, I cannot stop thinking about them even now. 😍
The Saffroni Chicken, which is something I’ve often seen as second best to prawns in my personal taste, I didn’t expect to be anywhere near as succulent and flavourful, but was some of the most tender chicken I’ve ever had. This was complemented with the cheese and mace which made it a real treat. 🥴
What I loved about the Papdi Chaat was the presentation and the texture. The photos we took do these dishes absolutely no justice, especially the Chaat. It was bursting with vibrant colours. The texture was incredibly exciting, mainly thanks to the Papdi. It had a real soft texture with a nice crunch. I can see why this is such an exciting dish in North India. 🤯

For our mains we went for the Nalli Ka Gosht lamb shank and my fiance had the Railway Lamb Curry. This was ordered with rice, garlic naan, and some black daal (Makhni).

After going to Dishooms in London, a place famous for its black daal which has its recipe protected under lock and key. I never thought I’d find a place which could match it. But Navadhanya might have actually managed it. My partner especially took a particular liking to the Makhni daal which was excellently complimented by the garlic naan. I could have eaten a bucket of this stuff on my own. If you do managed to visit then for the love of God make sure you order some! You’ll thank me later!

The lamb shank just fell off the bone. It was rich and succulent, with little fat. I found it rather salty which made it hard to finish the entire dish (though by this point I was also incredibly full, too).

My partners Railroad Curry was very good. It is an often average curry anywhere else, but executed incredibly well here. That said, in a restaurant of pure excellent I felt like it struggled to stand out.

Being the two soppy love birds that we are, we talked a lot about our anniversary tonight. The attentive and chatty staff caught wind of this and decided to make us a hilarious anniversary dessert on the house. It’s gestures like this which set the customer service apart from others.

After our meal we were given a hot towel and some mint leaf in white chocolate. Something always welcome after a large and satisfying meal.

My final thoughts on Navadhanya are simply this. If money is no object, then you’ll struggle to find anywhere which comes close to Navadhanya in Cambridgeshire. Everything here is gourmet.
The customer service is excellent and if you are a lover of Indian food but are looking to spread your wings and explore the cusine more, then this is it.

I want to thank the staff at Navadhanya for a wonderful evening. Not only for making our anniversary special tonight, but also for our first date many years ago. This restaurant will always have a special place in our hearts and I cannot wait to visit them again in the future. We won’t leave it so long next time.

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