This November Kensington’s much loved Indian restaurant, Zaika, will reopen its doors with a menu of Northern Indian cuisine – a new team with executive chef, Sanjay Gour, at the helm, and a revived look to the 120 cover restaurant space.
Located at 1 Kensington High Street, the reincarnation of Zaika comes by popular demand and will be a sister restaurant to Tamarind of Mayfair, the first ever Indian restaurant to be awarded with a Michelin star.
Mumbai-born Sanjay Gour joins Zaika as executive chef having previously cooked in Dubai at Verre, under Jason Atherton, before moving to Maze London, the Savoy Grill and Murano; working under Angela Hartnett. Sanjay will be supported by head chef Dayashankar Sharma,, who has been with the Tamarind Collection for 11 years. At Zaika, Sanjay will return to his culinary roots, with a menu inspired by the techniques and flavours of Northern India’s Awadhi cuisine which is traditionally influenced by the middle-east and uses cooking methods resembling European techniques.
The menu at Zaika will feature starters such as Palak-patta Chaat (spinach temp-kora, chickpea salad and lentil doughnut), Samudri Khazana (Amristsari prawn, lime leaf crab cake, spice crusted scallop) and Gosht Milan(Tawa grilled mint lamb cutlet, pulled lamb kurkure, kakori kebab). Signature main dishes on the menu areMahi Mussalan (Awadhi baked sea bass), Hiran Kheema (braised venison mince, green onions, petit pois, straw potatoes), and Murgh Kurchan (chicken breast julienne, green pepper, pan-scraped tomatoes). In addition to the a la carte menu, a hero dish of Sikandri Raan (slow braised lamb leg, browned onion, cashew nut and almond sauce) will be available for pre-order. Serving four to five diners, ordering 48 hours in advance allows time for a lengthy slow cook.
Owing to Sanjay’s refined expertise as a pastry chef, the dessert menu will be a unique menu of Indian influenced dishes such as Indian ‘Old Monk’ Rum Baba, Lauki Kheer (bottle-gourd pudding, Madagascan vanilla apples) and Matka Kulfi (Hazelnut praline parfait).
The drinks list at Zaika will include a wine collection popular amongst the loyal customer base of the original restaurant and has been designed to complement the bold flavours, spices and aromatics of Indian cuisine. It will also feature Indian beers and a selection of innovative signature cocktails. A designated bar area, seating 12, will accommodate drinkers, and a bar menu of Indian snacks will be available including Kakori Kabab (groud lamb skewers), Bhindi Jaipuri (crispy fried okra) and Gosht Kurkure (pulled lamb rolls).
Rahul Khanna, who is responsible for business development within the group, comments: “It is a very exciting time for the Tamarind Collection to be launching the re-imagined Zaika. Sanjay is an extremely talented chef and brings so much life to his cooking and the project as a whole. Alongside Tamarind, the original Zaika was the first Indian restaurant to gain a Michelin star, we hope to recapture its popularity and work towards regaining such accolades.”
The restaurant space, a former banking hall, retains original architectural features such as wood panelled walls, high carved vaulted ceilings and double-height windows offering views over Kensington Palace Gardens. Over 150 pieces of artwork will adorn the walls of Zaika. Banquet and booth seating will be upholstered with taupe leather and spot lights used throughout to offer adjustable lighting from day to night. The tropics of India will be reflected with an abundance of plants and fresh flowers around the room, including a living wall of greenery which will screen a semi-private 20 cover dining area situated on a raised platform at the front of the restaurant.
The return of Zaika will re-introduce Indian fine-dining to the Kensington area, offering Londoners and tourists a taste of Awadhi cuisine and an introduction to dishes hitherto unseen in the Capital.