Jyoti's (Birmingham)

I know people who rave about this place, but after a very mediocre curry there 5 years ago I didn't rush back. The dhal contained approximately 2 lentils and the poppadoms made Sharwoods look good. I went a couple of years ago on my birthday and had a pretty similar experience.

Urban legend has it that Jamie Oliver once visited and loved the experience so much that he returned and allowed himself to be photo'd several times with the owners. Excellent PR though this is, there's just something a bit unnerving about having pictures of Jamie Oliver staring at you on their homepage, from the menu and on the wall, watching you eat.

Jyoti's is an Indian restaurant and "sweet centre" on Stratford Road. The staff are friendly, 80% of the menu is vegan (non-vegan things are marked for once) and the prices are fantastic.

For the uninitiated; sweet centre basically means deli. As usual almost all the sweet things contain dairy, but most of the savoury items are vegan. The takeout prices are very good - a samosa is just 40p.

Having been a few times I think I've figured it out now. Their sweet centre items (which are served as starters / sides in the restaurant) are excellent. In fact, I'll go as far as saying that their samosas are the best I've ever tasted.

The filling seems to be mashed potato based rather than chunks of veg, but the flavour is simply amazing. The pastry's crispy, they're ever so slightly sweet and have just the right amount of heat.

It's their currys that just don't inspire me. For reasons unknown their dosas are all non-vegan - I'd be happy with a nice masala dosa instead of curry.

With this in mind I think I'd go back - either for takeout or a banquet of sides.

Whilst I'm on the subject of things they do right, their pooris are excellent. The eat in price is 45p each, so I had 5 :) Masala poori are twice the price though and taste almost identical.

We had a few starters, including Batetawada (bhajis in pastry), which were really tasty too (the filling was quite similar to samosa):

We were given a couple of pani puri to try, which I wasn't overly taken by (hollow pastry balls stuffed with random stuff):

I ordered a "Puri and Aloo Curry", as it comes with 4 poori and seemed good value for money. The curry itself though was fairly boring and I probably wouldn't have it again. We also had a "Makai and Kaju", which was essentially a big bowl of sweet corn in some sauce with a few cashew nuts. It had more flavour than the Aloo, but again I don't think I'd order it in the future. The rice portions are quite generous, so we shared one along with poori.

I'm generally not that taken by Indian sweets, but we had a couple of Ladu to take away, that we ate in the car on the way home.

They were actually pretty good. You can just about eat a whole one without dying of sugar overdose and I'd definitely have them again.

As Jyoti's is not that far from my girlfriend's place; I need to find a way of co-ercing her into bringing takeout to my house when she comes. Their sweet centre is in a whole different league to their curry and I'd happily become a regular customer.


  1. Kelly Monster said...:

    You've completely sold me on this. Having come back from India not so long ago (as you probably know, I talked about it a lot) the thought of being able to eat a VEGAN LADU (capitalised for reasons of importance) is pretty exciting.

    I'm with you on the dosa and I can't understand why they wouldn't be vegan. Of all the things available in India, I knew I could always rely on a good old dosa to stave off the hunger monster. Mental.

  1. Preeti said...:

    It all looks great! In Bombay I had the Batetawadas in a toasted bun with green chilli sauce, tasted so good!

    Did you get the Pani Puri with the spicy tangy sauce? Usually that adds the extra kick beside the thick sweet sauce for it.

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