Imli: Tapas-Style Indian Cuisine in Vibrant Soho

By Paul Joseph

Nestled in the heart of London’s Soho, and created by the team behind the renowned Michelin-starred Tamarind Restaurant in Mayfair, is Indian eaterie Imli.

Coming with such illustrious associations, Imli’s reputation inevitably preceeds it – yet this is a different restaurant experience entirely, offering a fresh take on Indian cuisine in relaxed, informal but stylish surroundings.

Decked out in vibrant colours, Imli’s wood décor and cool lighting offers the first hint at what is to come – that is, a hotch-potch of tapas-style dishes enabling you to experience a vast array of textures and flavours over the course of your meal.

For vegetarians there are a host of non-meat options, whilst a separate bar area offers its own buzzing ambience for a pre or post-meal cocktail.

The service at Imli is flawless, lacking the earnest subservience of its more famous cousin Tamarind, and instead offering homely, casual warmth in keeping with its environment. Unsure of the portion sizes, we were recommended six dishes between two of us, with added sides including poppadums, chutneys, rotis and rice.

First up was a Coriander Vadi – Gram (chickpea) flour and coriander wedges with jaggery and ginger with tomato and mint chutney. Light and moreish, it was an ideal introduction to the meal.

Next came the Aloo Matar ki Tikki Ragda – potato cakes stuffed with peas, coriander, ginger and topped with chickpeas, red onion, and tamarind chutney – offering an explosion of flavour that exhibited both the skill and care that went into creating it.

Following on was the Aubergine Masala – aubergines with sesame oil, curry leaves, and tomatoes. Combined with rice and cooked to perfection, it once again hit the mark.

The remaining dishes were equally impressive, serving to prove that an Indian meal can be something other than a full-on gourmet experience or a Cobra and Korma-fest.

This was delicately and artfully created food, served in small but hearty portions by friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. A resounding success.

By Paul Joseph