Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Published September 2nd 2020
Indian street food in Birmingham post-lockdown
Birmingham is blessed with many suburban eateries serving traditional Indian street food from the cafes in Handsworth to the Balti Belt of Sparkbrook's Ladypool Road. But Indico brings a taste of authentic Punjab dishes to one of the city centre's most glamorous spots.
Offering Indian street food in a vibrant, welcoming colourful environment, you'll find Indico at the rear of the Mailbox, before you step outside to the relaxing terraces by the canal wharf.
It is a sister site to Indico's other fuss-free restaurant in Parkgate Shopping Centre, Shirley, and has spaced out its tables and booths to cater for post-COVID dining. There's also plenty of hand sanitiser to go around and efficient service with friendly staff that try to keep their distance.
An open kitchen allows you to see the chefs at work while you nestle under the watchful eyes of the 10ft face of a pretty Indian matriarch painted on the wall. Then there is wallpaper similar to henna hand designs in oranges and pinks. It's modern mixed with tradition.
And that sums up Indico - merging the new with the old. Old-time delicious recipes and flavours of the Punjab served up in a modern relaxed restaurant.
Alongside starters and snacks like poppadoms with chutneys(£2.95) and far far crispy bites(£2.45) are a host of chaat small dishes.
Half eaten Gol Gappa Bombs and the Chilli Chicken 65
I've been munching on tasty snacks like pani puri, gol gappas and bhel puri in sidewalk cafes for years and it's good to see how authentic these are at a higher-end eatery like Indico. These delicious morsels of pastry shells filled with spiced potato, onion, puffed rice and spices are a great way to start any meal. Each plate is about £5.25 each and ideal to share. The gol gappa is smothered with tamarind chutney and yoghurt too.
For something a little spicier, there's one of Indico's most popular dishes - the chilli chicken(£6.75). These marinated chicken breast pieces have a gentle amount of heat and sticky lick of the lips sauce that make them extremely moreish.
There's plenty of Indian street food on offer and you'll find it hard to choose with options from Punjabi samosa chaat to fish pakora, chilli paneer and chicken tikka bites, all between £5.25 and £6.95 per plate.
Moving on to the larger plates, again there's a wide choice available. Biryanis of vegetable, chicken or lamb(from £10.95 to £12.95), chole bhature of spiced chickpea curry with fried breads, and rustic dhaba-style curries (£8.95 to £11.95). There's a chef special curry of a Chicken Taka Tak of juicy chicken in a tomato-based spicy sauce or a simmering Mughlai lamb rogan josh of tender lamb chunks in masala sauce.
These are just a few of the meatier choices and there's more to cater for vegetarians with lentil and kidney bean daal makhani, chickpea-based Punjabi choley and makai palak, oozing with scents of garlic and butter as you bite into this spinach and corn curry.
If you struggle to choose one of these mouth-watering curries, you can opt for one of the many Thalis, which come on a tray and allow you to have smaller portions of various curries along with a popadum, pakora and naan.
Thalis come in a range of sizes and prices from £13.95 to £19.95 and have themes from a fish version to Punjabi and North Indian options.
The naan, by the way, is one of the best I've tried. Buttery with a soft texture without being too heavy and not too large either. Make sure you try some when you go.
The Chef's Special Thali with Lamb Rogan Josh and Chicken Taka Tak
If, like me, you enjoy tandoori, there is a section just for you with seekh kebab, chicken tikka, paneer tikka and tandoori chicken leg as single dishes (£5.75 to £8.45). For something a little different, there's the tawa rolls that combine the tandoori element and wrap it in a paratha bread.
This includes a seekh kebab roll - which is spiced loose minced meat cooked in the tandoor and rolled inside a large paratha. Very filling and enough on its own without any sides. There's also a paneer or chicken tikka version of this if you like to mix your tandoori and bread together. These cost from £9.45 to £10.95 each.
Catering for all tastes, there's some westernised options too. Paaji burgers provide Indian spice influenced offerings of chicken or vegetarian options in a brioche bun. The most bizarre of these is a Crunchy Pandey - a samosa crushed into a soft brioche bun. Sounds like it could easily become a guilty pleasure. There are also salads for those watching their weight.
The dessert offering is less varied with a mix of Indian traditional choices of kulfi, halwa and gulab jamun plus some general puddlings of a mango and passionfruit sorbet or chocolate brownie with pannacotta ice cream (£3.95 to £5.95). If you can't choose, there's a dessert platter at £9.95 to share the sweet sticky gulab jaman, the sweet carrot and condensed milk dessert of gajar ka halwa and the brownie.
The kulfi was perhaps the most disappointing of the meal that came served like a lollipop on a stick pocking out of a cocktail glass. The presentation wasn't anything special and the stick made it seem like something shop-bought, although it did have a nice flavour.
On the drinks front, there's the usual soft drinks and coffees plus Indian beers like Kingfisher or Jaipur IPA and a wide range of cocktails and mocktails.
For something more traditional, there's mango, sweet or salted lassi at £3.45 each or I can highly recommend the gently spiced Indian tea, called Chai, that is smooth and milky and provides a soothing close to a meal.
What Indico offers is authentic tasty Indian street and comfort food in a bright city-centre environment.