Le Raj, Banstead, Surrey

The spot of “My Favourite Restaurant” is a really tricky one to fill.  I like so many different types of food, and have been fortunate enough to eat in so many different countries, that I can never quite decide on an absolute winner.  I mean, how do you choose between your favourite steak place vs your favourite sushi place?!

Well, that was all before I tried Le Raj.

My lovely friends Paula and Huw have been going to Le Raj for years.  I see them checked in on Facebook regularly, so when we were meeting for dinner there was only one place in my mind that it could be!  I had to try out somewhere that inspired so much loyalty!

Thank you!!

I would like to state that this is categorically the best Indian meal I have ever had.  Not only was it tasty and well presented, it was actually really quite light.  I ate far too much but didn’t feel bloated nor did I feel a little sorry for myself the next day!  It’s all down to what they state is their vision to use healthy cooking based on traditional methods, only using fresh and organic produce.

Winner!

On top of this, they have decent wines to choose from which I find is rarely the case in Indian restaurants!!  Also, check out how fancy it looks…

Not for the “beer and curry night out” crowd!

You need hear more about this food though.  As is standard, some of the dishes may not be the most appetizing colour but the flavours more than made up for it.

My starter was Calamari Jaal Tokmita, or tomato curried calamari!

Oh my hat, I can’t even begin to tell you how much my mouth is watering looking at this picture again!

It was absolute perfection.

I was a bit scared when it was put in front of me as I hadn’t pictured it that way in my head, but it was delicious.  The calamari was very lightly battered so that you had a crisp bite, then the tomato and spices hit, followed by a slightly sweet taste.  Heaven.  Although the rest of the meal was good, this was my highlight.  I could have eaten it all over again.

Paula had this:

Not a clue!

Huw had this:

Tastes better than it looks!

I didn’t try any (one had coconut, one had coriander!) and can’t remember what they are called (too busy food-gasm’ing over mine!), but am assured they were both very nice indeed!

Update:  I’ve just had a message from Paula who says “I can help you out with our starters… My one is called chot poti and is what you think Huw had.  I think his was likely a prawn puri.”  So now we know!!  Thanks, Paula!!

The menu was hard enough for picking a starter, but trying to decide what exactly to have as a main course was near impossible!  So many tasty sounding dishes.  Whomever wrote the menu should have a gold star for the descriptions!

When it came down to it, I had to try a combination I have never had before.  Hansh (duck) Jalfrezi.

Not sure about the greenary but the food under it was amaze!!

I would never have thought to put duck in an Indian dish.  Ever.  I don’t know why not.  It’s genius!  Because duck has a strong flavour of it’s own, it holds up and is still present on the pallet.  Also, because the meat is quite dense it holds together and doesn’t mush.  This was such a brilliant choice that I think I will struggle when I go back not to have it again!

For Huw’s main course he picked something I couldn’t eat as it had nuts on.  It also wasn’t photogenic so I am going to save you that photo!

Paula however ordered Paneer Shashlik basically a cheese tikka curry thing!!

Cheese!!

I have never had a paneer in a curry before.  There was always something in my head saying that cheese and curry shouldn’t mix.  I know paneer isn’t like a cheddar or anything, but it still wasn’t something I was going to try.  I am so thankful that I was with someone who ordered it and let me try!  It was so good!  The cheese isn’t melted.  It’s more of a halloumi texture so it warms through while keeping it’s shape.

It was good but still the duck was the best!

Naturally, there were side dishes too!  Saffron pilau rice, saag aloo and a daal.

There were onion bharji too, but I don’t have that photo!

The daal was made extra thick and extra garlicy at Paula’s request, and that was another revelation.  It makes it much nicer indeed!

Lets not forget about the breads!  We shared a couple of different types of naan bread too.  Freshly made, light, fluffy, warm… and infinitely moorish.

Did I mention that I ate faaar too much?!  Well, I did.  Not only because we ordered a lot but because I couldn’t stop.  I had to keep going until it was all gone!  I think washing it down with a good bottle of chenin blanc helped, too!!

There was no room for puddings at all.  I was going to have enough trouble not falling asleep on my way home already without adding sugar to it.

And then this happened…

How cool is that!  If you’re going to give me after dinner chocolates from now on, it has to be served like this.  There is no other way.

This is where my lack of formal training when it comes to writing really is apparent.  I cannot find the right words to tell you exactly how good this place is.  I think it’s a fair indicator given that it’s now officially my #1 favourite restaurant in the world.  If you read my blog regularly, you will know just how many I have tried!  There is also the fact that I haven’t said even one tiny little negative thing!  I just don’t know how to impress this further upon you.

You HAVE to go try it if you find yourself in Surrey with a spare evening.  I already know this is going to be a regular on my list when I am home.  What I do need are more people to go and try the rest of the menu and report back.  Then, I can be more efficient at ordering only the best on the menu to try!  Don’t forget to book though.  It is rightly very popular!

Thank you so much to everyone at Le Raj for making this the culinary highlight of my trip.  An even bigger thank you for going above and beyond regarding my nut allergy.  I didn’t have to worry for a second which made the food all the more enjoyable.

Mostly though, thank you so much to Paula and Huw for not only making time to have dinner with me, but for sharing their favourite place!

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