Hankies restaurant in Montcalm Hotel in London is an upscale take on authentic Indian street food, it evokes the heady scents and sultry evenings of the sub-continent in a distinguished setting, writes columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite News UK
London has more than its fair share of Indian street food haunts, but there’s no where quite like Hankies which opened early in 2018.
Tapas meets traditional Delhi street food at Hankies, a stylish West End eatery inspired by the classic hand spun Indian roti, cooked on a searing Roomali, Tawa and delicately folded into the eponymous ‘hankies’. Hankies is a upscale take on authentic Indian street food, it evokes the heady scents and sultry evenings of the sub-continent in a distinguished setting.
This brilliant new concept combines the fuss-free, fresh, light and aromatic small plates and incredible value for money that are synonymous with this type of cuisine, but does so in the stunning surroundings of the luxury Montcalm Hotel in Marble Arch.
Out go the hard wooden benches and the chipped glasses to be replaced by gorgeous artefacts, glassware and china sourced from Indian markets and antique stores by chef and Hankies co-founder Anirudh Arora.
Honing his skills in some of the best restaurants in Delhi and London, Anirudh has launched Hankies Marble Arch with a personal mission in mind: making authentic and delicious Delhi street food accessible and enjoyable in a beautiful and curated London setting.
At the heart of Hankies is the roomali roti, a thin, wheat-based flatbread which is hand spun until thin enough to see through and then cooked on a burning hot tawa. The ultimate food theatre, these are then folded into ‘hankies’, which in turn accompany – or enclose – all the dishes on the menu, starters and mains alike. Order a few; there are no rules here. And with the most expensive dish on the menu just £9, and the majority around £4-6, Hankies encourages its diners to indulge.
Anirudh’s menu showcases relaxed north Indian cooking at its finest. Sure to become signature fare are small bites such as bhindhi bhel – crispy rice puffs with okra, sweet chutney, onions and fresh coriander with a delicious sweet and sour “kick”.
Fresh from the tandoor oven come succulent skewers of prawns with chives and garlic; chilli lamb chops marinated in Kashmiri chillies, paprika and mustard and Hankies’ special naan – light as air and stuffed with vintage cheddar, cumin and shaved truffle, not only delicious, but boasting a truly remarkable price point – just £5.50.
Combine with one of Hankies’ expertly mixed cocktails or a lassi, and this really is street food as you’ve never experienced it before.
The polite welcoming service, impeccable decor, delectable dishes, lively Roomali Roti counter, pleasant ambience, finger-licking food and melodies in the background are sure to transport one to food heaven!
Asian Lite Rating- All 5 Stars
About Anirudh Aurora, Chef Patron/Director
Anirudh Aurora was born and brought up in Delhi. His mother wanted him to be a doctor; his father, an engineer. However, the moment Ani arrived at catering college, the Institute of Hotel Management in Lucknow, he knew he wanted to be a chef. Following his graduation, Ani was headhunted by Oberoi Hotels, going on to work with them for five years, the youngest Indian chef in that huge empire. During this time he opened a number of restaurants for the company, among them the Oberoi Grand Calcutta, Trident Chennai and in 2002, the brand new Udaivilas Udaipur. Travelling to London in 2003 in search of new challenges, he worked with chef Atul Kochhar, a fellow Oberoi alumnus, to open Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant Benares. Two years later he moved on to Moti Mahal, where he spent over a decade as head chef.
Ani then went on to open two restaurants of his own: Nirvana Kitchen in Marylebone and Hankies.
Hankies : 61 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 7PP