Nestled in the quiet, quaint village of Echt lies one of Aberdeenshire’s most popular Indian restaurants.
An unusual sight for a country village, the Echt Tandoori has stood in pride of place in the heart of the community for several years.
Visiting my family in Westhill a few weekends ago, I decided an Indian meal would be the only thing that would satisfy my hunger pangs following a long and very warm dog walk.
With my teenage sister having tagged along and endured the heat on our walk, I decided to extend the invitation to her to see if she would like to join mum and me.
And of course she accepted in double-quick time.
The restaurant looks grand from the outside and stands out with its red brickwork in comparison to the row of white houses that line the main road.
When we arrived early on the Saturday night it was hard not to notice the Emeli Sande-signed plaque on the entrance wall. Clearly this was no average restaurant if our home-grown superstar was endorsing the place.
An array of staff were ready to serve, and it didn’t take long for one of the waiters to dress our laps with the napkin that had been swiftly taken from the table. This efficiency was to be a common theme throughout our meal.
Before we could even take hold of the menu, my mum had ordered three crispy poppadoms that came served with a variety of condiments.
Tucking into the lime pickle, mango chutney and spiced onions, we reviewed the comprehensive menu which featured an eclectic mix of regional Indian dishes.
Dressed well inside, the restaurant’s navy blue and copper fixtures bring a relaxed feel. It boasts a real mix of the traditional and the modern and the mosaic fixtures and tiled bar bring a classy feel to it.
The staff were very attentive and within 10 minutes we’d been served our drinks and poppadoms and had ordered our meals.
It didn’t take long for our starters to arrive.
We’d decided to share – although sharing food with me can be something of an experience for others. Think Joey Tribbiani from the TV show Friends.
To start we’d ordered the mixed kebab, chicken pakora and the chef’s choice, onion bahjee.
Dishing them out, I ensured we all received a piece of each.
The mixed kebab consisted of chicken, lamb tikka and shish kebab.
The tandoori chicken was very fragrant and super soft. It boasted a lot of spices, as did the lamb, and both were well cooked. The lamb was nicely marinated and sweeter in comparison to the other meats.
The sausage of shish was full of flavour and spices and was slightly chargrilled, giving it a real crispy texture on the outside.
Dressed in garam flour, butter, herbs and spices and then deep fried, the chicken pakora was very tender. Lightly battered, the four long strips of homemade pakora were enjoyable, but it was the yoghurt sauce served on the side that made the dish. What was lacking in flavour was definitely made up for in presentation with beautiful carved vegetable flowers donning every plate.
The onion bahjee was, however, a completely different story. Crisp and packed with cooked onion and a variety of spices, the chunky shredded pieces of onion were delicious. Not only was it delightfully soft, the crispy fried batter on the outside of the bahjee was perfectly cooked. The onion wasn’t overpowering and the spices complemented it well.
All three dishes were well presented and styled with fresh salad topped with finely sliced onion, peppers and carrot, as well as a side of yoghurt dip.
The onion bahjee was the table favourite.
For mains we shared dishes again and ordered one portion of pilau rice and two flavoured naan breads between us.
The waiter placed warm plates in front of us as well as a candle-lit hot plate to keep our curries warm – all of which were very different.
First up was the lamb bhoona. A popular dish consisting of onions, green peppers, tomatoes and fresh coriander, the tomato based curry was tangy and thick.
My mum’s choice, I quite enjoyed the tender lamb which fell apart as soon as I stuck my fork in. The chunky cooked tomatoes paired well with the sweetness of the lamb, but the array of spices ensured the dish kept its medium heat.
The chicken madhuri was a new one for me, but came highly recommended by our waiter.
The thick creamy sweet and slightly nutty sauce was out of this world. As a lover of korma this dish kicked my usual favourite right off its pedestal. Featuring crunchy roasted cashews and drizzled honey on top, the curry was delectable. The crunchy nuts brought a lovely texture to it and the chicken was cooked perfectly.
I adored this dish, as did my sister, and we sat dipping in the peshwari nan we’d ordered for the duration of the meal.
Last but not least was the Ceylonese chicken korma. Anticipated to be the highlight of my night, the madhuri had stolen all of its glory. It was a well-rounded korma with a real taste of coconut to it, but it was nowhere near as good as the madhuri.
No matter how creamy, how sweet or how smooth it was, there was no comparison. That’s not to say it was a bad korma at all, it just didn’t stand a chance against the other dish.
No curry would be the same without a healthy serving of nan bread. Ordering both garlic and peshwari, the nans were perfect for dipping into any leftover sauce. The peshwari was deliciously sweet and had honey drizzled all over it.
The fine coconut shavings cooked throughout the dough added a lovely texture to the bread and it paired very well with the sweeter curries. The very garlicky nan was showered in finely chopped pieces of coriander and garlic and was best with the lamb bhoona. And with the addition of a bowl of pilau rice in the mix, there was plenty for the three of us.
Having polished off our meals we were presented with a refreshing hot towel and orange segments to cleanse our palate. The thought of dessert was a distant one and we were happy to call it a day.
Echt Tandoori is a delight to dine in. The food brings authentic Asian influences into the modern day and with its sophisticated and classy interior, the restaurant is an attractive place to frequent to for a good curry.
A little out the way for city slickers, it’s definitely worth the country drive – even just to get a taste of that madhuri again.
The curries are divine and there are plenty options. With dishes taking influences from all over India and using a number of different proteins in their offering, you really can customise your dishes to be exactly the way you want them.
That’s not forgetting the variety of vegetarian options.
I highly recommend taking a leisurely drive out and enjoying a true taste of India.
If it hits all the right notes for Emeli Sande, then it’s good enough for me.
Address: Echt, Westhill, AB32 6UL
What we had:
- Mixed kebab
- Chicken pakora
- Onion Bahjee
- Chicken Madhuri
- Lamb Bhoona
- Ceylonese Chicken korma
- Garlic Nan
- Peshwari Nan
- 3 x popadoms with chutney tray