I would like to make a formal apology to everyone on the Cambridge Curry Community. I have had the Tawa at the top of my list for years but for some reason it has always managed to escape me. I feel it is a personal crime to have an Indian restaurant of such high quality within the city for so long without having visited. I shall be revoking my Curry King crown immediately! 😂
On a more serious note, I FINALLY managed to pop in to Tawa with fellow foodie Sean to see what all the hype was about. We have heard nothing but good things about the restaurant across our communities and I was keen to experience another one of Cambridge’s authentic Indian restaurants, which are slowly growing in numbers.
Tawa offers traditional Indian food with a ‘modern twist’ that moves away from the more British-Indian/Bangladeshi fusion popularised across the UK. They aim to introduce the kind of food eaten at home by real Indian people over the heavier curries many people are used too.
We already have several places in Cambridge which offer authentic Indian food but more is always welcome. The marvelous thing about Indian food is the wide diversity across the country, meaning that each authentic Indian restaurant can still offer something different, with The Rice Boat offering dishes from the Keralan region, Pakka as a generalists South Indian restaurant, and The Banana Leaf giving us Sri Lankan and Indian. This means that many can coexist in the city without treading on each other’s toes, especially since they are all perfectly spread out across the city. The best thing about this is that no matter where you are in Cambridge now, you are never too far away from traditional Indian cuisine.
The menu is a really good size with a diverse selection of dishes. For more information click here. There is a huge allergens table on the back which is clear and easy to understand. It was great to see Tawa working with other local businesses like Jack’s Gelato for their desserts too. Two Indian beers were available in bottle form, Kingfisher in 330ml bottles and Cobra in 660ml. There is also a selection of wines from across the world.
A few things caught our eye on the starter menu. I always feel that the lamb chops are a good way of telling the quality of a restaurant. If you can’t get lamb right then that’s a very bad sign. Aubergine and onion bhajis were our second choice. We felt that having something familiar will give us a good benchmark to compare the quality with other restaurants. The ‘chicken 50/60’ also stood out as an exciting dish. This is Tawa’s own twist on the Chicken 65 that is popping up across other Indian restaurants in the city.
The lamb chops were immense. Sean and I have been sitting there trying to think of a better example of a lamb chop in our life…and we can’t think of a single one! They were ludicrously tender. So much so that they fell to pieces when picking one up. This was likely down to being marinated overnight in papaya which is a natural meat tenderiser. Spices were lighter and let the flavours of the meat do the talking…and it worked so well! This was one of the highlights of the meal. Make sure you offer this when you visit.
The Chicken 50/60 is a Tawa take on the popular Chicken 65. These are simply chicken morsels cooked in crushed coriander with chilli and garlic. They were succulent, crispy, easy, fun, and delicious. A fantastic starter and great to share. A perfect take on a popular dish!
The aubergine and onion bhajis were another fine addition. These were presented with mint chutney rather than the usual yogurt we have come to expect. These were crunchy, light, and easy, mainly thanks to the aubergine. This is another fine example of how Tawa likes to make things lighter than what we are used too.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my fondness for the plates at Tawa. They had beautiful duck egg patterns with deep sides making them perfect for putting a bit of everything on the plate. Maybe I am showing my age but ended up Googling them on my way out for my own home.
For mains we decided to go for the Biryani, the Daal Makhani, and Mysore Lamb. This was accompanied with a garlic and coriander naan.
The staff are fantastic and were professional, chatty, and good communicators with our orders. Serving was fast and everything came out in good time.
The chicken biryani was beautifully presented in a bowl covered in filo pastry. Breaking through the top uncovers fragrant rice with slow cooked chicken. This is different from some styles of biryani that people may be used too, which is usually accompanied with a small curry and will not include any pastry. There was no sauce but it didn’t feel at all dry. The chicken had a bold flavour.
The Makhani Daal is an incredibly thick and creamy dish, a perfect pairing with the garlic and coriander naan. This daal is slow cooked for hours with fenugreek leaves and was absolutely delicious and very dangerous for anyone on a diet. It’s the sort of thing you can eat and eat without stopping. Sean made an interesting observation, that it tastes like Heinz tomato soup. I didn’t notice it to start with but from the moment he mentioned it I couldn’t get it out of my head. I am sure that it isn’t made from the stuff but I challenge anyone who visits Tawa in the future to have a can before leaving and order the Daal. This gives you an idea as to how thick and creamy it is. I will leave it up to you to decide whether that is a good thing or not but I enjoyed it.
The mysore lamb is a dish of diced lamb covered in garam masala, along with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. This is a very rich and sticky dish which really complimented the chicken from the Biryani and daal. I like the way that the menu gives you a history lesson on its origins, claiming to originate from ‘the palaces of South Indian royalty’.
Once a bit of everything was on our dish and being held together perfectly by those lovely duck egg plates, the meal was a visual feast for the eyes as well as the belly. Everything popped nicely and looked fantastic.
Everything went down well. Sean and I left feeling like we had a high quality experience. We were certainly full and satisfied either way. The total came to around £80 with beer, which is a fair price considering how much we had ordered. With that said, we had ordered three mains, three starters, and a side between two. I question whether the Mysore Lamb or Biryani alone would have been enough to satisfy us on its own. For those of you with big appetites, I would make sure you keep this in mind.
For me, the starters were the real stars of the show. They all stood out as some of the best examples I have ever had. The mains were also impressive though were not able to keep up the very high bar set after the starters. I am a big fan of Tawa and I am glad we have something like this in Cambridge. We need more authentic Indian restaurants in the city and this one proves to be one of the best examples of it.
Thanks for reading!
2 thoughts on “Tawa – Cambridge 🇮🇳”
Sri Lanka is not India! It it is quite disrespectful to lump it into “traditional Indian food/restaurants” when it is a separate country and always has been.
I knew from the moment I wrote it that someone would go out of their way to be awkward about it. But I thought to myself “no, it will be ok. They’ll read it and understand that there are huge cultural similarities and shared food heritages between the two countries, I am sure people will see what I am trying to say, especially since the banana leaf servers Indian food too.” Thank you for proving me wrong.