I absolutely hate leftovers. It goes back to the misery of Monday dinners – the leftovers from the previous day’s roast with mash instead of roasties. Of course, it was followed by a Monday dessert, typically semolina with a spoon of home-made raspberry jam, which I was okay with. But day-two beef reheated in the remains of the gravy was punishment.
But there are a few exceptions to the leftover rule and Indian food is one of them. As I tuck into what remains of Sunil Ghai’s 36-hour black dal (€14.50), my only regret is that I didn’t order more of it. Seductively rich, with what feels like a generous amount of clarified butter and cream, there are velvety layers of tomato, ginger, garlic and fenugreek, and lentils that have been cooked into creamy submission. Dal can feel a bit worthy, a bit January actually, but this is the dal diet that dreams are made of.
Ghai, who worked for many years with the Jaipur group before he opened Pickle on Camden Street, has been expanding his mini Indian empire – first with Tiffin in Greystones, which is run by his wife Leena, and now at Street by Sunil. The Clonskeagh outpost is operating as a takeaway at the moment, but there are plans to start doing lunch whenever that sort of thing makes sense.
Ghai has a wonderful way with spices. He uses about 40 different ones, some of them quite rare, which he picks up on his visits home to Gwalior in the Punjabi area of northern India. Ghai is the second youngest of five siblings and his younger brother, Rohit, is a chef in London who was behind a number of Michelin-star restaurants including Gymkhana and Jamavar (do add both of these to your London list for when we can travel again). He now runs Kutir, a restaurant I have yet to visit.
Apart from both being great chefs, what the brothers also have in common is the ability to generate new ideas. The menu in Street has plenty of dishes that are unique to it.
As we drive home, me with the bag of hot food cradled on my lap, the car is filled with the most beautiful aromas. I soon find out that much of it is attributed to the Memsahib’s Rara Gosht (€14.50). Slow-braised lamb is cooked in a thick sauce which combines hand-pounded lamb with onions, kalpasi (which, when I Google it, I discover is black stone flower, a species of edible lichen that grows on trees) and their own proprietary mix of spices. This is a dish I could dip into every day of the week, along with the pulao rice with mint, coriander and onion, which seems to be scented with a whisper of rose water, where each grain of basmati rice is beautifully separated.
Another dish that is not to be missed is the starter of venison mince samosa (€8.50), which you will also find on the Tiffin menu. Intense with a good kick of heat, a familiar, slightly-piney, fruity flavour comes through, which I discover is juniper berry, so perfect with venison. The forest berry chutney dip adds more fruitiness.
The Tasty Street kebab box (€14.50), which has a beautifully charred lamb chop, chicken tikka, crispy prawns, samosa and dips, is good to order if you want to taste a cross section of what they do in the clay oven. However, these are dishes that I prefer to eat immediately, I think they’re less suited to takeaway.
This is beautiful food. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge fan of Sunil Ghai’s cooking. We may be trying to be a bit more healthy for January, but we all deserve something special at the weekend. And this is it.
Dinner for two was €52.
Where does it come from: Street by Sunil, 1 Bird Avenue, Clonskeagh. Dublin 14. streetrestaurant.ie
The verdict: 9/10, spicing that will transport you in every delicious bite.
Difficulty factor: All you have to do is reheat, if necessary.
Food provenance: Irish meats and produce, and Indian spices.
Vegetarian options: A wide selection and very good vegan selection too.
Delivery: Click and collect in Clonskeagh.