Muswell Hill’s Indian Rasoi restaurant offers high quality food without excess.

When you come to Indian Rasoi restaurant at Fortess Green, Muswell Hill, put away any thoughts of chicken vindaloos that kill your palate or birianis that are so bland you can scarcely bother to finish the dish.

This is refined Indian cooking of a high order, where spices work in harmony with choice pieces of meat and fish, where sources are lovingly prepared by Indian chefs with experience in leading Delhi hotels, where portions are beautiful presented.

There is no sign of the showiness or excess to be found in some of the better Indian restaurants in town. Rather there is discretion and personal care from Shoiab the manager and Mustafa Ali Khan, an Indian nawab or prince, who owns the restaurant, but knows more about the kitchen, the recipes, the dishes than many a maharaja.

Rasoi means kitchen in Hindu, but once the crispy popadums are placed before you, with a selection of home-made mango, mint and coriander and yogurt pickles, you realise this is no ordinary kitchen.

This is authentic home cuisine of a very high order in a leafy street straddling Muswell Hill and East Finchley.

Indian Rasoi’s owner says his recipes reflect India’s rich and diverse cuisine. Dishes from Hyderabad, Kerala, Goa and Kashmir include a wide range of spices, whose refinement will not be encountered in a Bangladeshi restaurant on the high street.

We had two starters, chilli chicken Bemisal and special chicken Tikka. Bemisal is influenced by Chinese or non-Asian spices, a dish that is deliciously sweet and savoury.

The ‘special’ chicken tikka (there is also an ‘ordinary’ tikka with breast meat) is made with leg meat, a particularly juicy tikka. Other starters enjoyed on a previous visit to this restaurant include Sev Puri and Duck samosas.

The puri is filled with potatoes, chick peas, onions, sweet tamarind sauce and yogurt, a tapestry of flavours. Duck samosas are a rare treat.

For the main course, we had Murgh Hara Chicken Masala, whose green exotic coriander and mint sauce is rich in tangy flavour.

This contrasts well with Lamb Malabar, a Keralan dish, replete with tomatoes and coconut. Tender lamb and a punchy sauce satisfy the palate.

Unusual vegetable dishes at India Rasoi emphasise the restaurant’s individual and exotic menu. Where else can one find Bagara Baigan, baby whole aubergines in a red sauce with coconut?

The sweetness of the aubergine brings to mind the recent Indian film The Lunch Box, a sadly romantic delight, where an aubergine dish unlocks emotions for Irrfan Khan, the main character.

Indian Rasoi has a finesse of cooking that distinguishes it from the crowd.

The flaky Pudina Lacha Paratha again stands out from the heavy Paratha found in most high street Indian restaurants as it is cooked in a tandoor oven.

The meal was topped off with a rice pudding, called Phirni, from Kashmir, a creamy, spiced indulgence, and a speciality of this little cave of North London Indian culinary delight.

Indian Rasoi’s prices are somewhat higher than the typical high street Indian restaurant. Our meal (for two persons, without wine) cost £55.

But such is the quality, you do not begrudge paying the little extra. A good range of Indian and European beers and wine brands are available at Indian Rasoi.

Indian Rasoi Restaurant, is found at 7 Denmark Terrace, Fortess Green, Muswell Hill, London N2 9HG. Phone: 020 8 883 9093.