Edinburgh Mosque Kitchen

A Love/Love Relationship.

Following my appetite, I wander the High Street. A few of us file through the doors of The Edinburgh Mosque Kitchen, and straightaway, there’s a wall of olfactory goodness: braised vegetables, dahl, marsala rice, fresh naan bread.

This place reminds me of London’s Brick Lane.

There’s a large selection of vegetarian options, Tarka Daal, creamy, rich and indulgent, Saag Aloo, decadent spinach and potato, Chana Masala, chickpeas in the freshest of herbs, and excellent braised vegetables, including a mushroom dish. There’s chicken sheekh kebabs, lamb curry, which appears to be of the well-made generic variety, and a slightly darkened rice, presumably from the marsala that was added to it when cooking.  £9.70 for lamb curry, rice, a chicken sheekh kebab, and guava Rubicon: the price has gone up.

The lamb is meaty. My first mouthful has a bit of fat, which is delicious. I find lean meat, like the British obsession with chicken breast, a bit overrated. The next piece of lamb is soft, disintegrates, tastes highly spiced, like it’s been marinated.

The rice is scorching, oily and over-salted, but it’s not overcooked, the spices are generic and bland (I find a large clove, coriander and cumin seeds) but these things don’t detract from the dish – in a perverse way they add to it. It’s taken on a bit too much water and is verging on being mushy (I like my grains with a firmness to them) but remains moreish.

I shovel more rice and lamb into my mouth – hot, generic pieces light up my mouth with a terrific heat from the chilli.  The plastic spoon I’m eating with, technically, I’d say it’s an oversized teaspoon, bends to the point of snapping, as I try to cut through the kebab.  Oh, well, I’ll use my fingers, no one is looking anyway.  One bite, and a coriander seed crunches between my teeth, cumin, strong chilli.

The place is jammed with earthy middle-class types; not sure if they could fit any more tables and chairs in, and people stand up to let others to their seats. The lady opposite me has a strong American accent – and in spite of the yellow leopard print sari, she’s definitely not Indian.

The white noise is diminishing, children’s laughter can be heard, but the spirit of community persists.  I eat the last, still warm, mouthful and pick up my new noise-cancelling headphones. People stand up to let me out, I throw my pink can (authentic, not too sweet) in the rubbish bin and head out on to breezy Nicholson Street.

With the Edinburgh Festival writhing in front of me, I decide I will perform one year: spoken word and a selection of songs – how hard can it be..?

Mosque Kitchen,  Nicholson Square, Edinburgh.

Photo Credit: Claire Nowbaveh



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