Fancy an Indian?

Located on the Hagley Road is Praza, the sister to Pushkar, a prestigious Indian restaurant that serves up the traditional with a fresh twist. If you read my previous reviews, you will know that I can be very critical about the Indian restaurants that I go to. They have a lot to live up to, because my mother's food is obviously the best, and after a terrible trip to Tipu Sultan on Eid day, I am on the lookout for the best Indian restaurant in Birmingham once again.
I visited the restaurant with my mother, as she is the best people to figure out the ingredients within a dish, a great person to get a second opinion from and it was also her birthday the next day. We wanted halal meat and needed my dishes to be dairy-free, so that meant some email communication before our visit to see what we could have and to make our meal choices. This was to ensure that it did not take too long for the food to be cooked and to ensure they were ready. I was told that this is normal procedure for anyone with dietary requirements, there is also an option to wait until you arrive at the restaurant but this would mean your waiting time will be longer. Ok, now onto the food.

Whilst we were waiting for our starter, we had two types of poppadoms with 3 chutneys and a non-alcoholic cocktail. The poppadoms, shown above, were crispy and tasty, and the seeded version had a little spicy kick to it that we loved. There was mango and chilli chutney (R), mint, chilli and coriander chutney (L) and yoghurt and butternut squash chutney (M). We liked the chutneys and you could tell that they were freshly made within the restaurant, a detail that was lacking at Tipu Sultan.

For my cocktail, I had a Praza Breeze. This had fresh watermelon juice shaken with fresh peach pulp and pressed pineapple juice with a garnish of strawberry. I found this to be sweet but with a slight tang from the pineapple. Would I shout about this from the rooftops? Probably not but it was enjoyable.

For my starter I had Makayhi Mirchi, which is fish marinated in a spiced green chutney that is steamed in a banana leaf, served with a salad and beetroot chutney. This was a chefs special on the day and is not on the menu. The sauce on the fish was definitely the green chutney that was served with the poppadoms but it worked well with the cod. I found the beetroot was too sweet but seemed to work well with the salad and fish. I liked the premise of this dish but found it was lacking in imagination.

Onto the mains!
We ordered Palak Gosht, they brought us a sample of Tarka Rice and we also ordered Corgi Chicken Masala and Masaledar Samundari Khazana with a Roti and a Garlic and Coriander Naan.

The lamb within this dish just melted in my mouth and the palak had been pureed and spiced well. I really enjoyed this dish. It is described as "slow braised British lamb with fresh fenugreek, spinach leaves, onions and spices." The description is spot on!

They called this Pulao Rice but felt it was more of a tarka rice, as you could tell that it had been cooked in spices. It smelt and tasted amazing and went well with the seafood dish. This intrigued me and to see what their biryani would be like.

I didn't have much of this chicken dish, as there was so much else on the table, but from what I did have I could see it was spicy but yet very flavoursome. It is described as "A semi dry chicken thigh masala cooked with onions, cardamom, black peppers and coriander seeds." Because of the black pepper and cardamom, it was very deep peppery smoky taste but it wasn't overpowering. The chicken was tender and in the perfect chunks. 

The stand-out dish for me was the Masaledar Samundari Khazana. It is described as "prawn, squid, scallop and fish sautéed with coarsely chopped onions, garlic, fresh coriander and a robust bland of spices, finish with lemon juice." The masala was well done in this dish and the mixture of seafood was just orgasmic. I could imagine putting a little coconut milk into this dish to add to it's richness but to decrease the robustness of the masala.

I liked how all the dishes had a different masala and taste to it. The roti and naan were soft and hot, I also liked how they were served within a cloth napkin on a plate, it allowed it to remain warm and soft, something that lacks at other venues.

My mum let it slip that it was her birthday the day after and she had just ordered a chocolate brownie, so they came out and sang her Happy Birthday. It was brilliant and a surprise for for us both.

Whilst my mother feasted on her brownie, I didn't have any dairy-free options for dessert so opted for peppermint tea. I liked the way it was presented but that cup is so awkward to hold and they used a teabag but it still tasted lovely with the mint.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Praza and could see why they had a constant flow of loyal customers coming through the door. It isn't somewhere you could go everyday but it is ideal for a birthday, anniversary or date. I wouldn't say that it is now my favourite Indian restaurant but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to family and friends.

Food - 4/5
Tasty, fresh and made very well. It was just missing that je ne sais quoi for me.

Dairy-free options? - 3/5
Selections available if correspondence with staff made.

Service - 5/5
Ida and Sid were amazing and I could see that they were the same with everyone at the restaurant.

Cleanliness - 5/5
Very clean.

Location - 3/5
One of those places that you may drive past so you know of it but if you don't then you may not know it even exists. But the building is very plush and has a very luxurious feel. Free WiFi.

Value for Money - 4/5
I was invited to the venue for a complimentary meal so did not pay on this occasion. But for 2 starters, 2 non-alcoholic cocktails, poppadoms, 4 mains, 2 rotis, a garlic and coriander naan, 1 peppermint tea and a chocolate brownie, it would come up to over £80. We weren't able to finish all we ordered, so obviously they became lunch the next day, so if you order wisely it will probably be around 60.

Worth trying? Definitely

Instagram worthy? Yes

Overall - 24/30

Have you tried Praza or Pushkar? What did you think?

*Many thanks to Prashant, Ida and Sid for their impeccable service and to Nishant*

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