[This review was first published online on the Chichester Observer website. The original story can be read at chichester.co.uk/news/review-excellent-experience-eating-at-so-india-1-8454832.]
Good food is evocative. Sight, smell, taste – sharing an excellent meal with your family is an experience which you think back on, discussing where you ate, the things you enjoyed, what you’d tried for the first time.
I paid a visit to So India in Felpham with my mother, and over delicious plates of food, we talked about our favourite memories of curry houses and Indian restaurants we’d eaten at before, and reflected on how a love for such cuisine has passed down through generations in Britain.
‘Giving food a story means giving a simple meal the power to become a lifelong memory,’ says Ruby Tandoh in her excellent new book, Eat Up, published this year. ‘It’s about engaging all of your senses, and letting food, body, craving and daydream all bleed into one’.
I thought about this idea – the notion that eating is not just about how we fuel our bodies, but an activity in which we can make memories, understand our culture, and connect with each other – as mum and I considered which dishes to dive into first.
Good food, it seems, can make one a bit philosophical, and this particular meal was one that we’re still thinking about a week later – the food at So India really can’t be recommended enough.
For a starter, we tried the onion bhaji with carom seeds and coriander (£3.25), which went down well, and the lamb in the samosa (£3.25) was tender with a subtle flavour – a very appetising dish.
The chardonnay was served up – a Chilean Gerwurztraminer Tamarind Garden (£4.15/145ml, £15.50/bottle) – which was a treat for the non-driver (sadly not me this time).
The chicken tikka masala (£6.75) – chicken cooked in a clay oven, coated in a tandoori sauce of herbs, spice and cream – was wonderfully creamy, and the vegetable dupiaza (£4.95) was truly delicious – lightly spiced and full of flavour.
The sag aloo (£3.65) – spinach cooked with potatoes and coriander – was also a delight, rich and creamy. The peshware nan (£2.65), which is stuffed with almonds, coconut and raisins, was a first for me and extremely tasty, perfectly complementing the other main dishes. All portions, including the serving of pilau rice, were good sized and most filling.
For dessert, we shared a Fantastica (£4.50), which included a crisp chocolate base, layers of dairy vanilla and caramel ice cream, as well caramel sauce and chocolate toppings. Fantastica indeed. The real triumph, however, was the Vanilla Fudge – a deluxe vanilla and toffee ice cream serving, rolled in strips of fudge. Sweet but understated, it was a delicious dessert to follow a tasty flavourful curry meal.
There’s plenty to be enjoyed at So India beyond the delicious grub – staff are helpful and welcoming, providing an excellent service in which nothing is too much to ask. With a recurring elephant motif, bright flowers and a warm palette, the decor matched So India’s relaxed atmosphere – although couples and other families were also out enjoying the meals, the ambience was just right and it was easy to talk while enjoying the restaurant itself.
Highly recommended – an excellent place to eat.
So India also offers a Monday banquet with five courses for £12.95. Contact 01243 865646.