Thank goodness for Twitter. When I took a recent work trip to Leeds, I asked local blogger Rihanna for recommendations on where to eat. A couple of others waded in and everyone seemed to rate Bundobust, a little Indian street kitchen a stone’s throw from the main train station. As I was with a vegetarian colleague, and Bundobust is completely meat-free, we headed down pre-meeting for a spot of lunch.
The decor was hipster-rustic: long benches, old doors panelled the walls, and seat cushions were made from hemp rice sacks. Ironic Indian stereotype sayings dotted around made me chuckle, especially the ‘Thank you, come again’ emblazoned on the door when you leave. You can’t help but read it in the voice of a Goodness Gracious Me character.
The menu comprised of lots of small dishes and suggested two per person for lunchtime. Obviously I ignored that and ordered three – my eyes being massively bigger than my belly. I went for the onion gobi bhaji bhaji (so good they named it twice?), the egg bhurji and the dhal and rice. My colleague also ordered the bhajis and got the bundo chaat.
The bhajis are described as the ‘ultimate bhaji’, which I’m pretty inclined to agree with. You guys who just settle for onion in your bhajis are suckers; these had cauliflower and spinach chucked in too, and were so crunchy I was able to snap bits off to ungraciously mop up the tangy tamarind and red pepper paste it was served with.
I ordered the dhal because it’s something I always get when eating Indian food, but it’s always different depending on what lentils are used. This one was made with black lentils and isn’t as fragrant as a chana dhal and not as powdery as some others I’ve had before. You can’t go wrong with ginger, garam masala and chillies as base flavours though – they’re three ingredients I always have in my kitchen.
My undeniable favourite was the egg bhurji, a hot contender for my next indulgent brunch at home, if I can figure out how to make it. It’s essentially scrambled eggs but cooked with peppers, chilli, cumin and ground coriander. I was skeptical that it would work but my god, it was so delicious, and served the king of Indian breads, roti.
I had a little spoonful of my colleague’s bundo chaat and in somewhere more pretentious I’m sure this would have been described as a ‘deconstructed samosa’. It was a bowl of samosa pastry, chickpeas, potato, tamarind chutney and yoghurt (served cold) and topped with crunchy, deep yellow turmeric noodles. It was kind of like a salad, fresh and and cooling, with a good mixture of textures and heat, the tamaring being cooled by the yoghurt.
I was so impressed by this little side street hideaway. Their great selection of beers, draft and bottled, suggest that an evening visit would be even better. Next time I’ll have to visit for pleasure rather than work, but Bundobust certainly made my trip worth it.