I have lost count of the number of times that had I thought of eating at Nando's, even stepped in, then stepped out. I was under the impression that it was a grilled chicken only place. Not my favourite eat out option.
It even happened during our last visit to Inorbit. Ended up having hummus and pita at a stall outside instead, after looking in at Nando's. The idiots at the stall took the hummus out of the fridge and plonked it on the plate and served it. Disgraceful.
We headed back to Inorbit Mall, Malad, this weekend. I had decided in advance to go to Nando's. I guess the call of their African bird's eye chilly based Peri Peri sauce became too strong to resist. I fondly remembered the time when I bought a bottle of Nando's Peri Peri sauce and pan seared some chicken at home with it. Time to see what the makers themselves would do with it.
I opened the menu. The first thing that I realised was that there was more to Nando's than chicken!
We started off with a nice, sugary ice tea and followed it with a Peri Peri Hummus with their house bread. The texture of the hummus was lovely. It had a nice, solid body to it and was yet moist and creamy. The opposite of limp, cold or watery hummus which is so bugging. It came with a dollop of mildly spicy Peri Peri sauce. Just enough to wake up your taste buds. The combination of hummus with the soft bread rolls was fairly unique and won over us hummus and pita bread lovers. You could add more Peri Peri sauce from the bottles at the table. We did so and was kept beaming and grinning through each bite.
We followed this with a dish whose name I don't remember. It was called Tepech or something but don't hold me to that. It was a Portuguese dish of lamb in a pickled curry. You could choose the intensity of the sauce. I went for extra hot.
The first bite singed my palate with its spicy heat. Each bite hit me like a bullet shooting into my mouth. Cooked up a storm in my mouth. I slowly begun to appreciate the dish with each tentative bite. It's rather different, to put it politely, taste. It reminded me of Goan dish of sorpatel and was probably the latter's Portuguese ancestor. This was more fiery though. I was almost in tears. But I saw Kainaz happily tucking into the curry. The pickled sauce had really caught her fancy. The rice that it was served with was nondescript. The bread soft and cuddly. I liked the pieces of lamb in the curry. These were neither too soft...nor too tough. They had a nice, satisfying bite to them.
Having roasted in the lamb dish I thought I'd finally go for a classic Peri Peri grilled chicken. Lesson learnt, I asked for a medium spicy sauce this time. The chicken arrived. It was Revelation time. They actually made chicken seem tasty at Nando's! Very tasty in fact. An Epiphany moment if there ever was one.
They had given a leg piece as per my request. It was from a fairly small chicken. Not one of those huge dinosaur legs which restaurants often serve. Chewy, unwieldy, sans taste. This was far from it.
The chicken here was succulent and juicy. The waterworks went off with each bite. It was grilled to perfection. The taste was very sublime. Mildly tangy. Delicately hot. Poetic. A taste taste so subtle and sophisticated, yet so simple. Made you feel very protective towards it. You felt blessed and privileged. You knew you were privy to experiencing a work of art. A rare event. Unlikely to be repeated if you were to order chicken at most other restaurants. A moment to be treasured. To be relived when you have grandchildren. Or till you reach your next Nando's. And this is without getting into the equally heavenly, plump, crisp outside, soft inside Peri Peri potato wedges which came with the chicken.
Gosh I can't believe that I rejected Nando's so many times in thep ast. I don't know how I was so blind to its charms before. Why had I never heard about it or read about it before? I realised that I lived a much longer part of my life than I should have without having had this Celestial experience.
The only good thing is that my eyes had finally opened. I was finally going to live a life which seemed beyond my grasp and dreams before. A life with Nando's Peri Peri chicken. Possibly the most divine piece of chicken that I have ever had in a restaurant. Hallelujah!