Restaurant review: Navaratna Indian restaurant, South Croydon

By - Wednesday 13th May, 2015

Joy Akwue Butler feels the heat in a recent addition to the restaurant quarter’s curry community

Time from East Croydon: 15 minutes / 5 minutes 119, 466 or 312

60 South End, Croydon CR0 1DP

Chilli chukka.
Photo author’s own.

I had originally arranged to visit Navaratna on Friday 27th March with my friend Jo, but due to work demands she was unable to make it. I quickly found a replacement – Charlie my partner, who loves Indian food, but he was unable to make it at the original time of 6:30pm. In fact, due to traffic delays, I had to rearrange a further two times before settling with 7:45pm – but each time I called, the staff of Navaratna were very accommodating and told me it was no problem.

The restaurant is traditional in style and played Indian music. It is quite small, but there’s just enough room between the diners to have a private conversation. We were shown to a table that seats four, but if we had been four we’d have found it a bit of a squeeze. However, from the time we arrived, we were made to feel very welcome and by 8:00pm the restaurant was completely full.

Venkat our waiter took our order. Charlie ordered the chilli chukka – tender boneless chicken cooked in traditional South Indian style (£5.95) – and I ordered the chilli cogo – chunky cassava chips deep fried and sautéed with onion, capsicum and spring onion (£4.95). We also ordered a pint of Cobra (£4.00), a glass of house white (£3.35) and a glass of tap water. Charlie and I shared our starters: we thought the marinated chicken was full of spice and flavour but we were less keen on the red hot cassava chips! I would have preferred to keep the sauce separate from the chips and not mixed together.

Chilli mogo.
Photo author’s own.

For our main course, Charlie ordered lamb chettinad – authentic chennai, a Tamil Nadu dish (£6.95) and I ordered chicken tikka masala (£7.25). We also ordered pilau rice (£2.95), Bombay aloo (£4.95) and two plain naans (£3.50). Before ordering the chicken tikka masala I asked Venkat about the colour of the dish (as I don’t like the red dye that some restaurants add in). Venkat assured me that it shouldn’t be too red … and thankfully it wasn’t. The dish was, however, a lot more spicy than the usual tikka masala that I’m used to, but that’s probably because of the added chilli and peppers that it was cooked with! The chicken was not quite as succulent as the chicken we’d had for our starters, and some pieces were a little overdone. But all in all it tasted good.

Charlie enjoyed his dish: he thought the lamb was tender, lean and perfectly cooked in the rich spicy sauce. We both thought the Bombay aloo was one of the best we’ve tasted – it seemed to have more flavours than the usual tomato version that you find in most restaurants.

Chicken tikka masala.
Photo author’s own.

During the evening I paid a visit to the Ladies. As the restaurant is limited in space, the toilet was one of the smallest I’ve been to. Although it was basic, it was clean.

Someone once told me that the mark of a good Indian restaurant is the number of Indian people who choose to eat there, and if that’s the case then this is one such place, as half the clientèle was Asian, varying from couples to friendship and family groups. But despite the size, it never got too loud. We both enjoyed our meal and would definitely recommend it, especially if you like your Indian food on the hotter side!

Joy Akwue-Butler

Joy Akwue-Butler

Joy Akwue-Butler works as the Operations Manager for IKM TeckChek Europe whose UK office is based in Croydon. She has lived and worked in the area for over 20 years. She currently lives in Caterham with her partner and has one daughter – Jasmine. Joy loves eating good food and enjoys socialising!

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