Aromas play a very important part in how foods taste. Your sense of smell apparently accounts for roughly 70% of your sense of taste. Mine is severely compromised: I have to be nose-deep in a kettle full of white vinegar to get even a whiff of its strong odour. So, sadly, the more aromatic flavour sensations of cuisines like curries are lost on me. However, I do enjoy spice. Not so much the hotter the better, but the heat of spicy food is always a bonus for me because it’s something that has a strong flavour my tongue can properly register. I was therefore very pleased with the spiciness of the Bangladeshi cuisine on offer this week.

Beef is not a meat I get on well with, unless it’s minced. I thus approached the beef nihari with slight trepidation. Fortunately, I need not have worried. The meat slid off the bones willingly, maintaining a good bite but still being wonderfully soft in the mouth. The variety of spices it was flavoured with, including cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, meat masala, and a light touch of chilli, made for a warm heat that was not overbearing. Eating it with the patla khichuri, a rice and lentil dahl made with potatoes and green and red chillis, made for a very strong and deliciously spicy combination. There might be a dragon on the Welsh flag, but it’s food like this that would make it breathe fire.

The vegan option, however, was even better. As a committed omnivore, I don’t often praise vegan food over a meat dish, but the doi begun was incredible. The sauce was the main attraction here. Made with plant-based yoghurt and spiced with chilli, turmeric, cumin, and ginger, it’s a bright yellow sauce that’s wonderfully thick. Aubergine was the only vegetable in the portion from The Plate, so anyone making it at home could substitute and add other vegetables as desired. Both dishes were served with paratha, a kind of flatbread, perfect for mopping up the leftover sauces.

Lastly came the dessert, doi chira. Reader, this was a strange one for me. Doi chira is a chilled dessert of yoghurt over flat rice, sweetened with syrup and topped with fruit. In this instance, the fruits of choice were banana slices, pomegranate seeds, and mango. It’s comparable, but not exactly identical, to rice pudding. I’ve only ever encountered rice pudding in a negative context – when it disgusts the protagonists of British boarding-school novels or when friends of my parents would reminisce about how awful their school meals were when rice pudding was on the menu. So it was with a lot of caution that I approached the doi chira. The texture was odd. Between the crunch of the pomegranate seeds and the oat-like quality of the rice and the creaminess of the yoghurt, it was a bizarre mix of textures. My lack of smell makes texture and mouth-feel more important for me, so this weirdness was almost enough to put me off. This would have been a shame because the actual taste was great. The sweetened yoghurt, mango, pomegranate, and banana all mixed together into a flavour that absolutely hit the spot for my sweet tooth. But if I make it myself, I may leave out the rice…

In sum, this was an excellent meal. The heat of the spice was superb, offering a strong flavour to the dishes, both meat and vegan, but was not so powerful as to be overbearing or uncomfortable to eat. Although the texture of the dessert was an oddity to me, it was still extremely tasty. What’s next, chef?

Written By Nick Dunn