Chakra Kensington aims to heal from within with its elegant Indian cuisine
Experience contemporary Indian fine dining in the heart of Kensington
It's an unfair stereotype, but Indian food is often considered more accessible than it is elegant, thanks to the wealth of the brilliant mid-range restaurants that London has to offer. Enter Chakra Kensington, a stylish fine dining establishment applying South Asian philosophies of healing and harmony into everything from the mixed modern décor – a Swadhishthana Chakra, representing taste and sense pleasures, adorns the ceiling rosette in striking contrast to the rich deep teal walls – to the nutritious, fresh ingredients that make up its delicious modern North Indian cuisine.
Just a stone's throw from trendy Kensington High Street, Chakra's two dining rooms are modestly sized, immediately creating a perfect mix of formal occasion dining and the kind of hearty, flavoursome dishes that perfectly promote togetherness and comfort. The intimate layout also allows us to really appreciate the warm, mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen as we arrive and are shown to our table by friendly, attentive waiting staff.
Settled with our menus, Chakra's complimentary Papadum Chutney arrives on our table to provide a glimpse of the restaurant's pleasing modern style – the homemade papadum is broken into chips and stylishly presented in metal dishes. The chutneys and sauces are delicious but we experience a slight wobble here as the usually-crunchy treat is a little past its prime, implying it's been waiting for us for a while. Thankfully, we're soon to discover this is the only blip.
Chakra has an impressive reputation for both its selection of veggie and vegan dishes and its Tandoori-cooked meats, and its portions are perfectly tailored for sharing and presented beautifully. For starters, we opt for Bhati Ka chicken wings, which are perfectly tender and come served with young coriander and a delicious Granny Smith apple chutney, and Punjabi-style fish fingers. With the slightest heat, these crispy tilapia goujon are perfectly matched by minted yoghurt and Indian lemon. >>
Onto our mains, we opt for a mix of classic North Indian murgh makani and something from the vegetarian range. The Good Ole Butter Chicken Tikka Masala is a flavoursome treat, with chargrilled Suffolk chicken simmered in creamed tomatoes, dried fenugreek leaf, and the perfect amount of gentle spice to lift it from a traditional dish to one that works a little bit harder for the tastebuds.
For cheese-lovers, the Malai Methi Mattar Paneer is a work of art. Thick blocks of sumptuous Indian cottage cheese is paired with peas, fresh fenugreek and plum tomatoes, but with an extra secret kick of heat to contrast with the crumbly paneer. Together with pulao rice and the Chakra House Daal, the flavours in each dish pull together perfectly to create an effortless sharing experience.
After such a flavoursome meal, we struggle to choose from the rich and decidedly upmarket dessert menu – the range of delicious Indian sweets include Ras Malai (flattened paneer poached in saffron-flavoured evaporated milk), Mango Kulfi (Indian ice cream) and Gulab Jamun (warm condensed milk dumplings served with ice cream) – and there's also a range of coffees and chai teas.
With its exclusive location, tucked away from the bustle of Kensington High Street, exquisite menu and warm welcome, Chakra is one of Kensington's best kept secrets, and is changing how fine Indian dining can heal from within.