Neasden in north west London isn't exactly known for its cuisine in the style of Mayfair or Covent Garden. But it is known for its Hindu temple, the jaw-dropping Mandir. The first of its kind in Europe, this splendid monument was built entirely by volunteers using 5,000 tons of Italian marble and Bulgarian limestone.
However, what I'm really here for is the adjacent Shayona restaurant. Set to be included in 2013's Michelin Guide and to star in Madhur Jaffrey's forthcoming TV series, Shayona is already hugely popular with local Hindu families and tourists.
The menu is extensive to say the least. It seems to cover the entire subcontinent from the dosas of the south and the dahls of the north to the Gujarati buffet and, er, a vegetable quarter pounder with chips. Honorably ethical, the restaurant serves up saatvic cuisine, abiding by strict Hindu principles: it's all vegetarian and no onion or garlic is used — to keep your hormones in balance, apparently.
The chilli paneer is utterly moreish, but then so are the bhindi kur kure — thin, salty strips of fried okra in a popadom cone. Even the rice is a dish in itself, a silky basmati lightly spiced with chilli and mixed veg.
Greedily, I over-order and then have to face down piles of nowhere-near-empty plates. No matter — Tej simply parcels it all up for me to take home.
Which leaves me room for dessert. My gajar halwa, a traditional Punjabi pudding, is a warm and fragrant carrot, cashew nut, milk and cardamom concoction. A comforting finale to a sensational Indian feast. And those leftovers? They taste just as heavenly the next day.
The restaurant's ethical principles are second to none — all profits go to the upkeep of the temple. And if the curries leave you gasping, the prices will not.
The not so good:
Neasden might not be on everyone's radar, but it is worth hot-footing it there for such quality Indian cuisine.
A divine restaurant that satisfies the palate and nourishes the spirit.
Shayona Restaurant, 54-62 Meadow Garth, Neasden, London NW10 (+44 (0)20 8965 3365; shayonarestaurants.com)