If there is one thing the Birmingham food scene is renowned for, it’s Indian cuisine, with big players like Lasan and the world famous Balti Triangle coming together to make The Midlands the place to be for any Indian fan. One venue, I have never paid a visit to however is Itihaas and a few weeks ago I was invited down to try out their new menu.
Like the more high-end venues such as Lassan and Pushkas, Itihaas offers a taste of India in a more contemporary, sophisticated setting than your average curry house. The most recent menu demonstrates how the attitude of curry lovers has changed. Raj Rana, Head Chef Exec at Itihaas explained how when they first arrived in the city, customers would come in asking for a vindaloo or a madras, but now things are different. Customers are longing for authenticity and dishes they have never tried or heard of, which has allowed the Itihaas team to present their most extravagant and experimental menu to date.
No expense has been spared in this 2 million pound restaurant, where slate finished walls and plated glass create a sophisticated interior that is sure to impress. This is complimented however by the inclusion of 18th and 19th century Indian artifacts, such as carved stone elephants and 300 year old doors, which give the place an ambience that doesn’t sacrifice tradition for style.
Inspired by the Mughal era, the food at Itihaas is unapologetically indulgent, taken largely from the North of India, with influences from Kenya and Mumbai. Their latest menu sees newly created dishes such as the scallop and prawn masala and banana leaf salmon join much loved favourites like the butter chicken served in a smoky tomato sauce to create a sizzling collection of rich and tasty dishes which capture the decadence of indian fine dining.
What’s not to miss:
The lobster Panchporan, which is simmered with five spices in a creamed mustard paste is definitely the stand out dish, as fresh and you like and packed full with flavour, proving why seafood dishes are a specialty here. At £29.00, although not one of the cheapest dishes it is also one of the better value options on the menu.
Although I’m not usually a huge lamb fan, the Nalli Ghost served off the bone was also one of my favourites. The tender meat is stewed in a thick and spicy masala gravy to offer a rich and decadent flavour.
When it comes to dessert, no indian dish has ever seriously impressed and Itihaas was no exception. Best of the bunch was the Chai Masala Mousse. Light and fluffy it is a fairly non-offensive way to satisfy any sweet cravings after your main but if I were you I would skip saving room for anything sweet and go for that extra half a naan bread!
During the evening we also got to sample some of Itihaas’ specialty Torunska cocktails. Known as Poland’s best kept secret, Torunska has a velvety clean taste that would make any vodka aficionado fall in love. After discovering the brand on a Polish business trip, Itihaas have used it to create their own selection of signature cocktails, including ‘beautiful moment’ which pairs it with german elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup and hibiscus essence, which was far too drinkable for a school night!
In a city that is accustomed to madras or masala, it is difficult to offer something to make you stand out from the crowd, but Itihaas does just that. The variety of exotic dishes and flavours combine with décor that is dripping with luxury to give you the feeling of dining in an Indian palace on the streets of Birmingham. The menu doesn’t come cheap but for a special occasion, this should be at the top of any Indian lovers list.