Desi Street Food Restaurant Review
Written by: Deepa & Meera (Instagram: @eavithus)
Opening its doors during the height of the Pandemic in 2020, Desi Street Food launched in Leicester City Centre at a time when footfall couldn’t have been lower due to lockdown. Instead of seeing this as a barrier to success, the team at Desi Street Food used this opportunity to build their presence and reputation with home and office deliveries, taking the time to perfect their 100% Pure Vegetarian (and Vegan friendly) Menu. The café concept aims to deliver the authentic tastes and flavours from street food vendors in the markets of India to the City Centre, cooked fresh, with good quality produce that is locally sourced. The menu is designed to offer options for breakfast, lunch, or just a quick snack, making it the ideal place to pop by for a catch up with friends or a pitstop whilst running errands.
-100% Pure Vegetarian and Vegan Options are clearly marked on the menu
-Allergens to be discussed when placing your order
-One step to enter for those with both ambulant disabilities, and wheelchair users (would need attendant / carer support to navigate)
-No highchairs but there are some child friendly options available on the menu for the little ones (chips / puri / bhatura / paronthas etc)
The café is cosy but not overcrowded, with splashes of vibrant colour and motifs reminiscent of India displayed on the walls and doors. The colours used on the retractable doors of the café front continue throughout the decor inside and on the menu to add brightness. Textiles in the forms of light shades and wall hangings also add to the atmospheric setting by bringing in some additional textures to the furnishings. There are also little nods to Indian culture with framed Indian phrases on the walls that have been cutely illustrated. My favourite decorative touch was the lines of ‘thums up’ and ‘limca’ bottles that immediately transport you back to eateries in India on sight.
After browsing the menu, orders are taken at the till and then brought out to the table as they are prepared fresh to order onsite. There is also a sink available to wash your hands if you have eaten ‘Desi Style’ without cutlery as we did, further adding to the authentic feel of the café.
The menu is varied, and is divided up into sections making it easy to navigate. Sub-headings include ‘Desi Specials’, ‘Street Toasties’, ‘Chaats’, ‘Naan Wraps’, ‘Special Chaats’, ‘Pavs’, ‘Chips’, ‘Snacks’ and ‘Platters/Thali’, with a separate Breakfast menu also available.
The dishes range from £2.95-8.95 for individual items, with larger sharer platters ranging from £9.95-19.95.
We ordered a dish each to try from the Desi Specials (and chips for the little one), and here are our thoughts:
Sholay Bhatora (£5.95) This is a traditional Punjabi street food item and is well known throughout India, so it doesn’t get more authentic than this really. We asked for the dish to be mild, and it was, but it also 100% delivered on flavour. The sauce of the Sholay was generously spiced (just with the chilli heat turned down), and perfectly complemented the slightly nutty and earthy flavour of the chickpeas. The Bhatora were soft and fluffy, and were perfect to mop up the delicious Sholay. The fresh slices of baby red onion were the perfect accompaniment, and whilst I initially thought there were a lot of them, there wasn’t a single sliver of onion left by the time we finished.
Paneer Bhurji (£5.95) It’s common knowledge that we cannot resist Paneer when it is on the menu. We chose the Bhurji as we enjoy the taste of this traditional breakfast dish and wanted to see how it compared to others that we have had. The paneer is cooked grated/crumbled and is spiced more delicately than the Sholay. We were pleased that the Bhurji was served dry rather than saucy, as you would find it when ordering at a Café in India. Again, we ordered this dish as mild, and whilst it delivered on this front was still full of flavoursome and authentic in spicing.
Plain Chips (£2.95) These did what they said on the tin. Fresh French fry style chips. Cooked well. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. We liked that the salt was served on the side in sachets rather than already on the chips allowing us to season to taste. Nothing to complain about here at all.
There is a great selection of drinks ranging from Lassi and Milkshake to Chai and Soft Drinks (including those well loved legendary soft drinks from the streets of India). On this occasion, we chose a Mango Lassi, which was the perfect consistency: slightly thick, with a mild yoghurty tang, and a burst of fresh (and sweet) mango. Served cold, fresh, and velvety in texture to drink. The other drink we ordered was the Karak Chai. I don’t tend to drink tea that often despite liking masala / karak chai, mainly because I like it strong and sweet like it is served in India, so when I do drink it, I want it done well. This totally delivered in its strong chai flavour with the spicing (particularly of cardamom and cinnamon) coming through. It was definitely on the sweeter side (just how I like it), so if you prefer without the sugar then let them know when ordering.
Value for Money
The value for money when dining at Desi Street Food is second to none, with most items on the menu ranging from £3-6 in price. We actually wanted to try a Chaat dish too, but decided we would add this on part way through the meal (as we are making an effort to be more sustainable and reduce our food waste). Despite us ordering only one street food dish each, both under £6, we were too full to add any additional items. In current times achieving a full (and happy) tummy, inclusive of drinks, for under £10 in the City Centre is pretty special really.
They also have an offer on where you can pop in for a chai and samosa for £2.95. If that’s not a bargain, I’m not sure what is!!!
If you have the tuck app you can also snag a saving by way of cashback against the value of the meal – check our linktree on our Instagram page for our referral codes for the app.
One thing we have yet to mention is service, and this really elevated our experience at Desi Street Food. The service is warm and friendly but unobtrusive – just what you want when having a meal out. The food we tried was truly authentic, cooked just as we remember, and packed full of flavour. It’s always an added bonus when the spice level can be customised according to preference, and the mild spicing that we tried would be perfect for those who are not used to a lot of spice but still want to experience the flavours of India and retain maximum flavour.
We are looking forward to returning to try the heat dialled up a bit, and to try some of the Chaat dishes too, to see how these compare. I will also definitely be popping by when running errands in town for more Karak chai (and samosa) at the very least, and the little man has his sights set on the pistachio milkshake!
Deepa & Meera