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A Taste of Kolkata Street Food on Ocean Road

This review was written by Caroline Preston of The Jarvis Jotter, travel, food and hospitality writing. For further details on my services please visit my website www.thejarvisjotter.co.uk

According to the Times of India, the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is now leading the way in the popular foodie trend of Indian street food. Luckily you don't have to travel that far to experience the fresh spices and zingy flavours of this moreish treat when it's available right on your doorstep...

Ocean Road, South Shields has long been hailed the North East's very own curry mile, okay, perhaps not a mile, but this seaside town on this slice of North East coastline has been home to some of the finest curry houses for years. Not only curry houses, this town also offers an array of attractions from plentiful B&B accommodations to a beautiful beach and even funfairs and fish and chips a-plenty.

Personally, I love Indian food but it's not normally something I'd eat in the afternoon so when I was asked to sample the new menu at popular Zeera Cuisine I was intrigued. Zeera is one of the top restaurants for Indian Food in the North East already so how were they going to top their current offering I wondered? The answer, street food.

I'm a lover of travel and some of the best food I've eaten is local and sold on the streets, think Caribbean roti wraps, a burrito-style spicy snack and then there's the patties which are dough wrapped mini pasties that are then deep-fried and cost only a couple of dollars apiece. This is the kind of food I love so what did Zeera have to offer me?

Walking into the restaurant and its a beauty, sparkling decor reminds me of an Indian palace while the cosy booth style seating is perfect for smalls groups or even Covid-19 'support bubbles' as is the current situation. The restaurant is operating in a 100% COVID-safe way.

The new street food menu is offered during daytime only with Zeera's already popular menu still available every evening. The first thing I noticed is the exotic drinks menu from cocktails to fine wines, spirits and even champagne, it's clear the food here is no standard affair with flavours that can be paired with good wine. Celebratory groups will also love the glamorous atmosphere where good food can be enjoyed alongside exciting beverages or a simple beer.

Starting we ordered some drinks, George ordered a pint of Cobra, a perfect companion to spicy food, mine was just a coke, feeling thirsty after the rather late night I'd had the prior evening. Asking the advice of our helpful waiters we initially ordered 5 small dishes to share, these tapas sizes dishes are perfect for sharing. We started with the sev puri, a flat crispy puri (deep-fried flatbread) topped with chopped onions, tomatoes and mashed potato mixed with spices and Indian chutneys topped with sev a noodle type crispy snack (think Bombay mix). I loved the intense flavour of fresh coriander and the pop of the little pomegranate gems.

Sev Puri at Zeera South Shields
Zingy parcels!

Next up was the samosa chaat, tiny crispy mini samosas mixed with chickpeas, a fresh street-style sauce and yoghurt. Fresh and zingy with red onion, coriander and crispy leaves, you could so do this for a business lunch without worrying about any lingering strong flavours, it seems pretty healthy too, definitely something different and refreshing.

A skewered tower of mashed potato shapes arrived next, this was the aloo tikki dish, served with onions, coriander, cucumber and street sauce a fresh filling bite. The tasty dishes kept on coming and next a bit of a rarity for me, samosas filled with spiced sardines, I'm not a huge fan of strong fish flavours but it was surprisingly tasty.

The first meat dish of the day was the Afghani Tikka, marinated and skewered chicken served with a fresh zingy salad. This is a perfect healthy lunch dish, the tender clay oven-baked chicken, rich in flavour was a perfect amount.

We were starting to feel full, but we couldn't leave without sampling the Kathi rolls, these are Indian flatbreads normally fried and include a thin omelette, this particular lamb variety was our favourite dish of the day. The rich masala marinated lamb chunks wrapped up in the delicious Partha bread was just delightful.

Kathi Rolls at Zeera Cuisine
Lamb Marinated in Masala Spices

Winding up we decided to try a traditional chai (sweet milky tea) with Indian biscuits and pushing the boat out we also ordered two desserts. I'd never tried any of these and was excited to try something new. The mango kulfi, full-fat fruity ice cream was delicious and the gulab jamun a definite winner, deep-fried golden syrup-soaked doughnuts in a big sundae glass with cream and ice cream, this was super sweet and moreish.

Summing up the whole experience, this was a fantastic new take on Indian food I'd not experienced. As this is a daytime menu I could see this being a real winner for business lunches, reasonably healthy and light these dishes will fuel you up for the afternoon ahead...

One recommendation from me, if you are pushed for time and normally meet for a business coffee why not treat your client, colleague or customer to a gorgeous tea instead? the elegantly presented chai or tea with Indian biscuits from Zeera is served in a beautiful teapot and the chai being subtly spiced and aromatic is an delicious alternative, I'd rather have that than a Starbucks or Costa any day of the week... to book visit Zeera Indian Cuisine online or call 0191 456 1811 to book.

This review was written by Caroline Preston of The Jarvis Jotter, travel, food and hospitality writing. For further details on my services please visit my website www.thejarvisjotter.co.uk

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