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Aarti Indian Restaurant (Berlin, Germany)

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Address: Oranienburger Strasse 26 / 10117 Berlin / Germany

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      16.02.2012 23:03
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      Average Indian restaurant in Berlin Mitte that won't break the bank

      We hadn't intended to eat Indian food more than once during our four day stay in Berlin, it just happened. We wanted to cram in as much sightseeing as we possibly could and didn't want to spend lots of time choosing places to eat so when, on Sunday lunchtime we spotted Aarti, a cheap and cheerful looking Indian restaurant situated near to the New Synagogue, the Pergamon Museum and the Old National Gallery, we didn't need to give it much consideration. The lunchtime specials advertised in the window seemed like good value and we could see that a good few tables were already occupied which we took as a positive sign; we went inside hoping that those diners were not all first time visitors vowing never to return.

      The restaurant interior is a little shabby which might be why they keep the lights quite dim; it's not grubby, though, and that is more important to me. The place is decorated with elaborate murals and there are illuminated pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses hanging on the wall. The restaurant has quite an odd layout compounded by the fact that a narrow passage runs from the front door to the restaurant proper and when you get to the end it's not clear where you should go; fortunately an elderly gentleman sitting in the shadows wordlessly indicated which way we should go and a waiter soon arrived at the table we'd chosen in the window.

      Neither of us paid much attention to the menu except for the lunchtime specials section but this is a run of the mill restaurant serving the type of dishes you'd expect to find in a UK "curryhouse". We both opted for mutton dishes, a mutton dal for me (Euro.650) and mutton vindaloo (Euro6.00) for the Curry Connoisseur. As each came with a choice of rice or naan bread, one of us chose the rice, the other the bread and when the food came we found that this worked very well as a portion of either was ample for two.

      I know a lot of people turn their nose up at mutton thinking it is old, tough sheep but mutton is merely meat from a sheep that's more than a year old. You do see mutton on the menu much more in Germany than you do in Britain and I think it's a meat that is great for curries. Both dishes we'd ordered contained lots of meat, much more than we'd anticipated for a cheap and cheerful lunch and the pieces were generous and meaty with very little fat. My dish had been labelled as mild on the menu but I'd asked for it to be served 'mittel scharf' - medium spicy - and knowing that curries in Germany tend to be less hot than the ones we'd usually have in the UK, Himself had asked for his to come extra hot. We were both still disappointed. Certainly for me the consistency of the sauce was too runny; I would have preferred for something a bit more substantial. While neither curry delivered the hoped for heat, at least they could not be described as bland. The flavours were good with individual spices being easily picked out; all that was missing was the fire.

      A half litre of beer came in at Euro3.50 and a very good salty lassi was priced at Euro2.50.

      This was not the best curry we ate in Berlin (that one will be reviewed in due course) but it was a substantial enough lunch and reasonably priced for the location. This is cheap and cheerful stuff and the set lunches are good value as long as you don't expect fine dining.

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