Malika | Indian dining at Brighton Marina
In Brighton and Hove, we’re very blessed to have access to such a variety of cuisines on our doorstep – and not just the Anglo iterations either. Where Indian food is concerned, we’ve got food outlets serving up authentic street food and Indian snacks, specialist supermarkets offering hard to find produce and ingredients and restaurants dedicated to regional dishes, like Punjabi or Bengali.
I love Indian food. Having been lucky enough to visit India twice so far in my life, I like to think I have a fairly good feel for the cuisine and love making curries, naan and roti at home.
So when the team at Malika got in touch, I was surprised that I hadn’t come across them before. A large, modern Indian restaurant based in Brighton Marina, it turns out they opened quietly in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic would impose a lockdown that put a stopper in the hospitality trade.
I love seeing more interesting snacks and starters on the menu, not just the typical bhaji. We started with paneer tikka, duck seekh, grilled sausage-like patties of spiced duck mince, and aloo tikka, fried potato cakes filled with dressings of tamarind, mint and yoghurt.
By this point, upon seeing our food arrive we realised we’d probably ordered too much for the evening! The duck seekh was rich and very filling between two people, which made me think perhaps a smaller portion for the starters menu would be ideal.
The paneer was just how I like it, with crisp edges and a silky texture in the middle. Accompanied with a crunchy salad, it helped balance out the sweet tang of the marinade and softness of the cheese. We both loved the aloo tikka, although I appreciate the photo might not do it justice – there’s a lot of dressing here, so I think its presentation could do with being a little simpler.
Not wanting to opt for ‘typical’ curry dishes, though I can’t deny my love of butter chicken and lamb rogan josh, our main dishes were the Saag Gosht (which basically means leafy greens and meat – in this case it’s lamb and spinach, which is how it’s often served) and Dal Baluchi (you often see this on menus as Dal or Dahl Makhani), a black lentil dal finished with butter and cream.
On the side we chose garlic naan – because how can you not? – pilau rice and roti. Now that sounds ridiculous, I’m aware, but during our travels around India earlier in the year, we frequently experienced receiving singular, thin and flat roti when ordering food, so had expected something similar. As you’ll see from these photos, this was not the case at Malika! Rookie mistake, we should have checked and basically had two baskets of bread between us – whoops.
Of the two, I think the dal was my favourite – hearty and creamy, without feeling too heavy on the stomach. The Saag Gosht reminded me of having it in Northern India around Christmastime last year, although being thick and richly flavoured, it was very filling and I was struggling by this point!
Looking back through the menu, you get a lot for your money at Malika, although it’s definitely worth bearing the portion sizes in mind before your visit. I always like to try and taste a good few dishes when I’m out, so I think the team at Malika could potentially think about catering to this in some way.
I’m summarised my key thoughts below:
- Malika has a very friendly waiting team, the sort that will stop and check on you even if they’re not necessarily looking after your table that evening
- Authentic dishes on the menu, cooked by Indian chefs
- Plenty of vegetarian dishes and most are gluten free as standard
- Its size means you should have no trouble stopping by for a walk-in and all tables are well spaced
- Great value for money and ideal for groups (obviously up to 6 right now!)
- It’s a good addition to the marina’s independent restaurant offering
- Free parking at the marina is always a bonus
- Accessible facilities and wheelchair friendly
- Portion sizes are maybe a little too large – we took food away with us, which is obviously better than waste but still unplanned
- Was not a fan of the house wine – I think a lot of restaurants fall down on this, but I always think the ‘house’ should be something to be proud of
- The marina is just a little too far out of the way for some – esp. non-drivers
Brighton Marina’s bad rep
So one thing we have to talk about is Brighton Marina’s reputation.
The first thing that struck me when entering Malika was the size of the unit; like most of its neighbouring restaurants, it’s huge – with such vast units it’s easy to see why it can be so difficult to attract new independent businesses.
Part of the marina’s problem is that things come and go, struggling to achieve footfall and awareness, particularly away from the main boardwalk, so people tend to remember the worst of it – the world food buffet that was here a few years back, for example – or confuse some names with others, meaning new restaurants have to contend with this preconception upon opening.
I was glad in that case to have a chance to visit Malika, try the menu and chat to owner Lisa and Head Chef KK Anand about their passion for Indian cuisine. Since taking ownership of the restaurant, the place has undergone a total refurbishment and, more recently, even been fitted throughout with infrared heating to safely heat the space without spreading hot air around.
Have you visited Malika before and if not, would you now be interested in visiting?
The Indian restaurant is currently offering a 20% discount from your total bill (including alcohol) if you dine between 3-6 pm, Monday – Friday! Have a look at the menu here.
Like this post? Check out some of my other Indian cuisine and Indian restaurant reviews here.
I was invited to dine at Malika to produce a review, but all opinions here are my own.