The Lasan Group are famous for their fantastic Indian fine dining restaurant in Birmingham, and of course, their Great British Menu winning chef.
Raja Monkey in Hall Green is like the little brother of Lasan, with all the same high quality ingredients, skilled chefs and authentic flavours, but in a relaxed, informal cafe environment. They invited me over last week to sample the menu so I headed over after work for dinner.
Just off the Stratford Road with parking outside, Raja Monkey is easy to get to, and there were plenty of spaces outside when I arrived at half past 6. The restaurant itself is bright, warm and welcoming, and the staff are very friendly.
After being seated straight away and ordering some drinks, we had some poppadoms with mint sauce and mango chutney to start with while looking through the menu.
The aren’t too many choices, which I think is a good thing, as it’s more about having a few dishes that the chefs take time to get spot on here. The open kitchen is a nice touch too as you can see them cooking everything fresh.
After watching the chefs cooking chicken skewers in the tandoor, I decided to have the starter with Chicken Banjara (spicy chicken niblets), Nilgiri Murgh Tikka & Pakora.
It comes served on a metal platter which fits in with the casual café style, but is still presented beautifully. The chicken banjara was spicy and tender, the tikka pieces were smoky from the tandoor and really juicy, and the pakora was crisp fried and not greasy at all. The mint sauce and tamarind dip that came with them were delicious too, with the yoghurt and mint cutting through the deep fried pakora and the tangy tamarind dip was refreshing to the palate.
For main I just had to go with a Thali platter, which comes with sides, bread, rice and a curry. I opted for the Nizami Beef Biryani.
The platter was beautiful and looked so appetising with so many things to try. Alongside the beef biryani I had raitha, garlic and coriander naan bread, kadela kari chickpea curry and a lovely vegetable chutney. The beef was slow cook tender, mildly spiced in a rich tomato sauce with the tender, fluffy basmati rice. The bread was soft and flaky with crispy bits on the outside, and the chickpea curry was delicious with a warm chilli heat on the back of the throat and a smooth, velvety sauce. It was a big meal too, which I only just managed to finish!
I wasn’t going to have dessert, but the lovely chefs had made me the special Gajrala and ice cream, a pudding made with fresh carrots, milk and cream.
I really enjoyed the entire meal at Raja Monkey, and I particularly liked being able to try some really authentic flavours and dishes that I’ve never tried before. The service was brilliant too as all the staff were helpful, friendly and knowledgeable about every dish on the menu.
The other thing I love about Raja is that as well as having the sit in restaurant, they also do takeaways with their unique tiffin club. For £10 you can buy a traditional Indian tiffin pot, and come back to have it refilled with fresh food for just £10 a time, perfect for office workers or even picnics!
If you love authentic Indian food, then Raja Monkey is for you. Head over to Hall Green and give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love it!