Apr 11 2015

Woodlands

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Woodlands is a southern Indian vegetarian restaurant with 3 branches across London, in Marylebone, Piccadilly and Hampstead. Mr Ranjit Sood opened the restaurant in 1981 and since opening besides serving southern Indian food, they have also introduced a few dishes from the Northern Indian cuisine and Tandoori dishes. Besides serving vegetarian dishes, the dishes they actually cook are also healthier than what other restaurants serve, as 98% of their dishes do not contain any butter or cream and they make them tasty due to their unique recipes and methods of slow cooking, which makes the meal much lighter than in other Indian restaurants. I do have to say that after my meal at Woodlands I did feel full but my stomach did not feel heavy, despite the fact that I had very flavoursome food. Their wine list also contains organic, vegan and vegetarian wines. 

I had some vegetarian friends over from London and I thought this was a perfect excuse to go to Woodlands, restaurant that is located in my neighboring Marylebone and that I had heard a lot about from my vegetarian Indian friends. We came here on a Saturday evening and luckily I had booked a table for us, as the restaurant was full when we came here, and I am not sure I would have managed to get a table without booking. The inside was quite casual and the clientele was mixed, both Indian and non-Indian people were enjoying this food.

I was a bit surprised when I opened the menu. Despite me thinking that even thought I eat meat, I like vegetables and can easily do a vegetarian meal, when I first opened the menu I subconsciously started looking for fish and meat on the menu and found it strange they did not have it and found it unusual to choose from vegetarian dishes. What surprised me even more was how long the menu was and how many different dishes they could do with vegetarian ingredients. The menu features pre appetizer nibbles (like the masala poppadum which we ordered which was garnished with chopped onion, tomato, cucumber, green chilli and coriander and cost £2.25), soups, hot appetizers, tandoori dishes, main courses (divided into Dosas And Uthappamsthe, Uttappams, Thalis, Vegetable specialities), rice, hot breads and accompaniments.

There were 4 of us having dinner, so we decided to share dishes among us. The poppadum was quite nice, I liked the touch of chopped vegetables added to it, but in practice it was quite difficult to eat it, as the vegetables kept falling from the poppadum. Neither of us had ever had a Dosa before, so we had to have one from a choice of 12 different ones. The dosa is a crepe made from a batter of soaked lentils and rice, ground together and fermented. Woodlands is apparently famous for their dosas and has been serving them since 1981. I actually have not noticed dosas on any other Indian restaurant menus. The Dosa that we chose was “Mysore Masala Dosa” which was cooked with butter, spicy ‘red’ chutneyand the traditional potato filling, served with sambar (lentil dipping stew) and coconut chutney, and according to the menu came “highly recommended”. We were brought a crepe like pancake with a delicious filling and it was one of my favourite, if not the favourite dishes of the whole meal, all of us really enjoyed it. Both of the accompanying sauces worked very well with this dosa, it had a lot of flavour.

We then ordered 4 dishes from the vegetarian speciality main course section, for £7 on average. My friend Olga ordered the Woodlands Korma, which had an assortment of garden vegetables cooked in a cashew nut based creamy sauce, which her husband Arturs though was one of the best dishes of the meal. It was a very good korma, not too heavy, quite light but full of flavour, but for some reason because it did not have any meat tasted unusual to me. I love the jalfrezi dish and usually have lamb jalfrezi in Indian restaurants and here I settled for Vegetable Jalfrezi with a medley of fresh vegetables with tomatoes, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander leaves in a spicy sauce. I thought the dish had a good strong flavour, it was different to the usual oily Jalfrezi I am given in other Indian restaurants, it was light and tasted well. Although I am ashamed to admit I prefer the oily lamb Jalfrezi more. We also ordered 2 spinach based dishes - Saag Paneer – or spinach with home-made Indian cheese cooked with garlic, cumin seeds and Indian spices, and Saag Aloo, spinach with potatoes cooked with the same garlic, cumin seeds and Indian spices. I thought the spinach dishes once again tasted lighter than the Saag Aloo and Saag Paneer you would find in other Indian restaurants, I could feel the fact they did not use heavy butter or oil in their cooking. The dish though that impressed me a lot was their lemon rice or basmati rice steamed with fresh lemons cooked in a special recipe, it was so much more flavoursome than your usual rice and the lemon worked so well with the rice and all the other accompanying dishes, unusual and delicious.

We ordered 2 desserts at the end of our meal - Kulfi Falooda (rich creamy Indian Ice cream served with fine vermicilli (Falooda), topped with rose syrup and a sprinkling of nuts) and Gajjar Halwa (warm carrot fudge infused with cardamom and studded with nuts and raisins) and these were so tempting I ate them and only remembered to take a picture when the plates were empty. The Gajjar Halwa divided opinions, it had an usual flavour due to the carrot, but I really enjoyed it, it was not your average/ usual desert. I also liked Kulfi Falooda. I rarely have desserts in Indian restaurants and I know very little about them, but I found these Indian desserts very enjoyable.

I personally found the meal a bit strange as it was so light and vegetarian, it was more like a healthy dinner than a heavy Indian, which is what I was expecting when I booked an Indian restaurant. But Woodlands definitely does stand out in these aspects from your average Indian. If I have more vegetarian friends over, I would be delighted to take them to Woodlands.

Date: 11/ 04/ 15
Location: Marylebone
Price for 4 people, no alcohol: around £90

Woodlands on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 

3.50

Location: 

Woodlands
77 Marylebone Lane W1U 2PS
London
United Kingdom
GB
Woodlands Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5