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Headingley's newest Indian café: Khana Bombay

8 March 2016
Headingley's newest Indian café: Khana Bombay
The modern Indian dining experience has swept most cities and the popularity of them is testified by the relentless queues outside the various Dishoom establishments in London and the packed tables in Bundobust in Leeds most nights of the week. Following this trend it’s no surprise Khana Bombay Café has sprung up in Headingley with a large population of curry hungry students and a culinary gap in the City suburb for an upmarket but relaxed Indian restaurant.

Khana Bombay Café has set up on North Lane, previously Ask Italian, and the restaurant is unrecognisable compared with its previously minimalistic interior. A combination of glitzy décor and nods to Indian culture through sweet burning incense and art work gives the restaurant a glamorous but fun feel. This is reflected in the menu which has ‘street food’ favourites, as well as grill dishes and biryanis seen on more traditional Indian offerings.

The menu calls for a small plate approach, where several dishes are ordered to share amongst a table with everything arriving at the same time. We ordered Dahi Bhalla (fried urad dal dumplings), Chole Bhatura, Paneer Saag and a vegetable Biryani with sides of okra fries and garlic and cheese nans. All the dishes reflected a real attention to flavour but the creamy and garlicky Paneer Saag had a real depth of spiced savour and an aromatic combination which made it my favourite and definitely my greatest recommendation. The Chole Bhatura was also tasty, particularly when scooped up with the deliciously carb-tastic fried dough pocket - although the portion size seemed a little small compared with the other plentiful dishes.

Khana Bombay - Article 2

The dal dumplings were the only shortfalling amongst what was otherwise an accomplished culinary offering. The taste of tamarind was slightly overwhelming, cancelling out the other flavours, and we expected crispy fried dumplings (as the menu suggested) but received a slightly mushy mound of dal instead. The okra fries, however, were on point – crispy and crunchy and subsequently not around for long. Aside from the dishes we sampled there was also a grill section with dishes such as Seekh Kebab, Chicken Tikka and King Prawns cooked over charcoal as well as a lengthy list of other meat and fish curries. The battered and cream cheese stuffed Pakora Chilli and Chilli Cheese Toast are still on the list of things to try on my next visit!

In addition to extensive wine and beer listings, there is an exotic cocktail menu too. Cocktails include the refreshingly zesty Pomegranate Mojito and smooth but punchy Kochi Lady combining gin, jamun juice, lime and egg whites – with lassies and mocktails also available. The Mango Daiquiri, made using homemade mango puree, had that signature mango silkiness but with a kick that reminded me of an alcoholic Mango Rubicon with a little bit of added sophistication.

Khana Bombay - Article 1The Pomegranate Mojito

Not wanting this Indian taste journey to end, we ordered some final drinks and desserts. The Kheer, an Indian Rice Pudding, arrived served cold and sprinkled with pistachio and almonds. The coldness of the pudding gave it a freshness with the pistachio and rose water flavourings, producing a light and nutty sweetness. The Chai Wallah had caught my eye when earlier perusing the drinks menu and as a Chai Tea addict I was curious to try a cocktail version of my favourite drink. This tipple was served hot, a combination of vanilla vodka, milk, Frangelico and chai tea, and is both comforting and moreish – sending me into a sleepy and satisfied after-dinner state.

Khana Bombay Café is a welcomed new addition to Headingley, with a range of fresh, fragrant and flavourful dishes coupled with a fun and friendly atmosphere which makes for a winning dining combination. It offers an all-day dining service and is open every day – plus with a lounge area for those who want to enjoy a more casual experience, Khana Bombay Café could be your new favourite hang-out spot.

Khana Bombay Café is currently offering 50% off your food bill on Tuesdays for bookings made online.

Becky Peartree is our resident food writer and is in her final year at Leeds University where she studies English Literature.
Photography provided by Justin Gardner