Top Indian restaurant Salkaara has opened a second branch in Cardiff – but is it as good as the original? -Ed Gilbert

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Despite Cardiff’s wealth of excellent South Indian restaurants, including Purple Poppadom, Mint & Mustard and Ponnuswamy, Roath’s Wellfield Road is a part of town that has been overlooked until now.

But, earlier this week, Salkaara, an upmarket restaurant with an existing outlet in Llandaff North quietly opened the doors to its second Cardiff branch on Wellfield Road.

The expansion across Cardiff is a testament to the success of the original restaurant, but would the new location be as good?

Read more: The definitive guide to eating and drinking in Roath




Co-owned by Santhosh Nair, a former Mint & Mustard executive chef from Kerala, Salkaara’s menu will be familiar to fans of Cardiff’s other South Indian restaurants. Dishes like crispy soft-shell crab, sea bass with raw mango sauce, chocolate-filled samosas and tandoori pineapple all made an appearance.

On the third day of operation, a cold Monday evening, the reception team were warmly welcomed, busy setting up their Christmas decorations.

Chilled pints of Cobra were gobbled down with slivers of crispy poppadom accompanied by a trio of excellent chutneys (£3.95); mouth wrinkling lemon, sweet earthy beet and zesty fresh mint.



Poppadoms with chutneys

The Beef Suriyani dry fry (£6.50) was a dish for meat lovers. A bowl of tender chunks of beef was coated in an intoxicating dry spice blend of coconut and curry leaves.



Suriyani beef dry fry

Beautifully soft and creamy cubes of zafrani paneer tikka (£6.25) were delicately flavored with saffron and lightly licked with arctic char while a tangy chutney added a lovely sweet note to the dish.



Zafrani paneer tikka

I was a little terrified of my main course, the chettinad lamb kuzhambu (£12.95), as I had been warned it was hot before ordering it. I needn’t have worried as it turned out to be average heat at best. Slow-cooked chunks of lamb were coated in a thick, earthy, intensely meaty sauce that must have been the result of long cooking.



lamb kuzhambu chettinad

Nawabi murgh (£13.95) was as good an example of tandoori chicken as I have tried anywhere. Ridiculously tender and flavorful, it was served with an excellent creamy tomato-based makhani sauce as well as a mixed leaf salad dressed with lightly smoked chicken. If only all side salads were topped with meat.



Murgh Nawabi

The sides maintained the high standards. Thoran (£4.95), made with crunchy cabbage and carrot tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds, was a fresh counterpoint to rich curries.



Thoran

A fluffy naan (£3.25) was stuffed with sweet figs and garnished with aromatic coriander. If you’re looking for a change for a peshwari naan, start here.



Naan with figs and cilantro

Finally, the rice pilaf (£3.75) was distinctly grainy and decadently buttery.



Rice pilaf

Desserts, often considered an afterthought in Indian restaurants, were considered as highly as appetizers and main courses.

Gulab jamun (£4.50) was a deliciously light yet indulgent pudding. Balls of soft fried dough soaked in saffron flavored syrup were served with vanilla ice cream.



Gulab Jamun

Finally, a dessert tasting trio (£6.50) hit the mark. The smoked tandoori pineapple, a crispy samosa filled with a rich chocolate ganache, and a silky creme brulee lightly flavored with rose water were all excellent.



Dessert trio tasting

We had a cracking curry from Salkaara’s new Roath restaurant and it was just as good as our previous meals at their Llandaff North branch. It’s fair to say that Salkaara has taken off and is a very welcome addition to Wellfield Road.

The details:

Address – 24 Wellfield Rd, Cardiff CF24 3PB
Telephone – 02920 562100

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