Located at: 48D Park Street, Colombo 02, Sri Lanka
Visited on: 15 Sep, 2018
Having recently opened its doors in Colombo, Chambers – located on twinkling, bustling Park Street – has a simple but cosy set-up with a few well-selected colourful décor that light up the rustic-ish interior. The cuisine is Maghrebi (Northwestern African)-Arabic, so to say, as the image of a tagine on their logo also suggests. A lady, who I gathered must be the proprietor, was hands-on, going from table to table and checking if everyone was alright. For someone who is more used to Middle Eastern-Arabic cuisine, I was looking forward to trying out what Chambers had to offer.
To wash down my thirst, I ordered a Passion Mojito Mocktail (LKR 390). Albeit giving off a strong sense of sweetness stemming from Sprite or something of the likes, it was enjoyable. Not very bubbly. A little less sweet might have made it a little better, but no complaint.
Of course, I had to try their Hummus (LKR 500), the yardstick against which I start when it comes to Arabic cuisine. Very good. Nice and thick but creamy at the same time with a well-balanced mix of chickpeas and tahini. I was a little uncertain when I saw the accompanying khubz, but this too turned out to be wonderful, lightly buttered and grilled to create a soft and warm interior with a lightly crisp exterior. Perfect for the dip.
We also tried their Falafel (LKR 400 for a portion of four pieces). These were flatter and denser than most falafel I’ve had – and I probably prefer the lighter versions over this. But taste-wise, this worked too, in a different way. These felt ‘greener’. Perhaps a little sesame on the outside might add an interesting, light crunch to it.
Their tagines are what Chambers is most popular for, so we couldn’t go without trying some. I decided to go with the Chicken and Prune Tagine – chicken and prunes with almonds, served with couscous (LKR 1,400). I loved it! The chicken was well seasoned and so tender that a mere poke with a fork was enough to separate the meat from the bone. Prunes in a savoury dish of this sort isn’t something I’ve had before, but I must say the partly dried fruit complemented the dish so well. The chickpeas with the accompanying gravy generously piled over the couscous was fabulous. A little sweet and very mildly spicy, it made a great accompaniment for the chicken and couscous. And the couscous was prepared to perfection too. A few more almonds? Yes, please. Definitely something I would like to have again!
There was a Mutton with Chickpea Tagine – mutton with chickpeas, served with couscous (LKR 1,500) at the table as well. A little taste of some of the vegetable with the thick gravy gave off a nice meaty flavour in this dish. Those at the table who preferred mutton enjoyed it too. There did, however, appear to be more chickpeas in the chicken tagine than in the mutton one – although the name of the latter specifically mentioned the legume.
Finally, there was a Baghdadi Kebab – minced lamb with Arabic spices, served with saffron rice (LKR 1,600). The kebab was pretty good. Meaty and just the right degree of chewy, seasoned well with herbs and other condiments such as diced onions, which added that extra edge to the texture. The rice was fine too, but frankly I was too busy enjoying my tagine to take much notice of it!
To round off the night, we were treated to a complimentary plate of Basbousa – traditional Arabic semolina cake with coconut and rose (or sometimes orange flower) water. This wasn’t on the menu, but seemed to be on offer that evening. Quite sweet, but there was something about it that made you want to have just that one more bite. The variation of textures on the palate, going from the slightly chewy crust to the softer interior and the crunch of the desiccated coconut made for an interesting experience. And of course, the rose water, in which it had been soaked, undoubtedly gave off that familiar whiff of Arabia. Good stuff.
Rest assured, I’ll be back for that Chicken and Prune Tagine!
Yummy Rating: 4.0 / 5.0