When I think of afternoon tea my mind instantly conjures up images of country houses and grand drawing rooms, delicate Victoria sponges and cucumber sandwiches – a very English institution. So when invited to sample the afternoon tea at Praza, a stylish, modern Indian restaurant in Birmingham city centre I was both a little confused and very intrigued writes Dluxe Birmingham & Solihull’s Martin
I was reassured that this was going to be a good experience straight away with the arrival of my first drink. The afternoon tea can be upgraded to include either a glass of sparkling wine or the house gin
and tonic and am I ever -glad I opted for the gin and tonic! Crazy Lassi gin is quite simply like no other gin I’ve ever tasted; smooth and fragrant with layered flavours of turmeric, cumin, black pepper and
host of others which combine to make it utterly delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the dishes that were to follow.
On to the food itself, the menu provided a wide range of different treats and can be provided completely meat (and egg) free. Being something of a carnivore however I opted to sample the whole menu, though being an Indian menu many of the dishes were vegetarian and certainly didn’t suffer for this.
Starting with the pre-appetiser of Dahi Puri Chaat, you’re instantly made aware that this menu is something a little different, and a little special. A crisp pastry shell stuffed with chickpeas, potatoes and a mix of chutneys all in a bite size piece, it bursts deliciously and oddly refreshingly in your mouth. A lovely spiced flavour, but really this one is all about the texture and it’s difficult to beat – I could have eaten a dozen.
Before I could request more Dahi Puri Chaat, we were presented with the main event: the Indian Afternoon Tea. Beautifully displayed on a traditional three tier serving stand and with more than a dozen different delicacies to try there was no chance I was going to go hungry.
The savouries included chicken tikka sandwiches, lamb or paneer Khatti rolls, samosas and mini kachori among others. All of the dishes were a success, looking and tasting fantastic and going really well with the Indian tea which was served alongside (more on that in a moment). The standout here for me
was the lamb Khatti roll- slightly spicier than most of the other dishes with an absolute riot of flavour and a ton of exquisitely cooked lamb stuffed into a delicious soft roll. Its vegetarian counterpart, the paneer Khatti roll, had milder flavours but was equally tasty.
Back to that tea, there are a choice of two (Classic Ginger and Cardamom Chai or Praza’s Special Peppercorn and Bay Leaf Infused Black Masala Chai) and I opted for the Ginger Chai. It was wonderfully aromatic with strong, but not overpowering ginger flavours and complemented both the sweet and savoury dishes. I have to be honest though, I also had myself another of the Crazy Lassi gin and tonics as they’re far too good to resist.
The sweet portion of the meal is what I was most looking forward to trying, having never really thought of Indian cuisine as having a strong dessert side. Whilst there’s none of the fanciness that comes with some dessert trays, the proof here is quite literally in the pudding and my sweet tooth was well and truly satisfied. There are two standouts here, the first being the Chocochori, which is a coin of light, flaky, buttery pastry stuffed with a delectably rich dark chocolate filling. To refresh the palate after that confection is the Bhapa Doi, a tangy mango steamed yoghurt with a delightful creamy texture and served in a shot glass.
If I was to pick anything to criticise it would be – perhaps blasphemously – the scones, cream and jam. That’s not to say they weren’t excellent, they were, with a delicate hint of cinnamon in the scones, but they did seem out of place in this most different of afternoon teas and I don’t feel the experience would suffer if they were to be omitted.
Ultimately, the Indian Afternoon tea at Praza starts at £18.95 per person and is a beautifully flavoured, beautifully presented and beautifully different take on the traditional afternoon tea. I for one will be
returning, and not just for the gin!
For more information visit praza.co.uk
94-96 Hagley Road,