Mother India's Cafe
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Indian cuisine in tapas sizes makes this a handy spot for groups. The menu is vast and vegetarians are well catered for
It seems Mother India’s Cafe staff are particularly skilled at slotting dipping bowls, pints, baskets of naan, and heaps of curry into place. It’s a good thing too, as the table quickly disappears under a crockery covering of tiny plates – even as forks lunge across to skewer tasty morsels.
Mother India began as a café in Glasgow in the ’90s, and this Edinburgh outpost popped up in 2008, serving Indian food in tapas portions. The sharing concept means it’s popular with large groups, but lone office workers, couples, and small tables of students also keep the place busy. The service is fast and generally on the ball – the frenzy of peak times can mean the odd dish gets forgotten, but slip-ups are quickly fixed. There are some 50 dishes on offer, some giving a fresh twist to Indian restaurant staples – the chicken tikka comes in two variations, with nuts or peppers and tomatoes. The rest of the menu covers the fishy (spiced baked haddock is a highlight), the smoky (chicken stuffed with smoked aubergines), the spicy (keema samosa with spiced lamb mince) and the pulse-based (dall mackhni is a smooth black urid dall simmered with kidney beans and cream).
Staff recommend four dishes between four, and the shrunken quantities mean you can sample a wide variety of flavours while avoiding the dreaded post-binge bloat. Vegetarians are well catered for, with most of the meat curries available as veggie options on request, and a good selection of vegetable-based regulars, such as crispy aubergine fritters, rice and lentil pancakes or spinach and paneer. Desserts are limited to ice cream, spongy gulab jamun and a cake of the day, but a cup of the gingery chai tea rounds off the meal nicely.