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The Holy Pundit: Seaside Spice & All Things Nice

When it comes to restaurants, Folkestone is full of hidden gems. These tucked-away treasures are not always easy to spot, unless you know where to look. And they often crop up in the most unexpected of places. One such place is The Holy Pundit.

Owners Saurav Chakraborty and Rahul Pancholi first started their journey in Ireland, working for a hotel company. They came to England in 2016, when they established The Holy Pundit in The Hythe Imperial Hotel. In November 2019, they also took over The Bell pub in Hythe, serving traditional British pub fare. Then, in 2023, they moved The Holy Pundit to Folkestone.

We now have access to amazing, authentic Indian food on our doorstep. This is not your average British curry house, dominated by Tikka Masala, Balti and Rogan Josh. This is real, traditional Indian cuisine, and it doesn’t get better than this. So where can you find this secret seaside spice spot?

A Hidden Haven with a Harbour View

Rahul and Saurav have taken over The Mariner, an unassuming little pub overlooking the harbour. Upon entering what appears to be a run-of-the-mill pub, you would never guess that upstairs, there’s a piquant paradise of fabulous flavours carefully concealed, waiting to tantalise your taste buds.

The Holy Pundit - interior

A Symphony Of Spice

Head Chef and Owner, Saurav Chakraborty, meticulously crafts each recipe. His keen attention to detail ensures that every dish, with its harmonious blend of spices, elevates beyond the ordinary. Speaking to him about his food, you can sense his passion immediately.

“At The Holy Pundit, dining is not just about satiating hunger,” says Saurav. “It’s a sensory expedition where spices take centre stage, tantalising taste buds and leaving an indelible mark on the palate. It’s a haven for those who seek the perfect marriage of flavours, where every dish is a testament to the art of spice curation.”

Having tasted the food, that’s no overstatement. Every dish we had was a perfect balance of flavours, each mouthful a wonderful experience.

The Wallet Saver Menu

The great thing about The Holy Pundit is, that whilst they serve Indian food at its finest, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. The Wallet Saver Menu, available Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, was created to make good Indian food affordable. At £32 for 2 people, including an amuse-bouche, starter platter for 2, soup taster, 2 main courses, a side, naan and rice, it’s an absolute bargain.

the holy pundit - lentil pakoras
Lentil Pakora

Amuse Bouche: Lentil Pakora

As there were 4 of us visiting The Holy Pundit this time, we ordered 2 Wallet Saver menus. Our amuse bouche of Lentil Pakora arrived, one for each of us, and it was certainly an excellent start. Lentil pakora is a street food and appetiser commonly found in Indian cuisine that combines mashed lentils like Moong, Masoor, Chana Dal with a mixture of spices such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside and served with a combination of fragrant sauces that combined perfectly on the palate, they were marvellous little mouthfuls.

the holy pundit - starter platter
Starter Platter for 2

Starter Platter For 2

The Starter Platter for 2 includes 4 onion bhaji, 3 Pieces of Kali Mirch Tikka and 2 Kolkata Style Fish fry pieces. Chef Saurav let us in on some of his secrets, giving us an insight into how this is all prepared. “For onion bhaji, imagine thin slices of onions coated with spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri chilli, garam masala and lemon juice and then added to chickpea flour batter, and fried until crispy.” When we tasted them, it was like we had never eaten onion bhaji before. Each bite offered a delightful crunch that gave way to a soft, fragrant interior bursting with the savoury sweetness of caramelised onions.

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The Kali Mirch Chicken Tikka was beautifully cooked and delicious too. “Tender chicken pieces are marinated,” Chef Saurav told us, “in a blend of yoghurt, ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, and a medley of spices – cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. What sets Kali Mirch Chicken Tikka apart is the generous use of freshly ground black peppercorns.” The outer layer of the chicken carried a beautiful char, while inside, the meat remained juicy and infused with the rich amalgamation of spices.

Next on the starter platter were the Kolkata Style Fish Fry pieces. These were like next-level fish fingers, with succulent pieces of marinated fish in a crispy coating. “The marinade consists of a blend of turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin, fresh coriander, ginger-garlic paste, parsley and a hint of mustard oil, lending a distinctive zing to the fish,” Saurav explained. “Then they are coated in breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown.”

the holy pundit - tomato jaggery soup
Tomato Jaggery Soup

Tomato Jaggery Soup

This little soup taster arrived at the table between courses, acting as a kind of palate cleanser of sorts. The jaggery, a natural sweetener used widely in Southeast Asia, gave the soup a nice sweet flavour. “This soup is made with fresh tomato, fresh coriander and a hint of garlic, and boiled till beautifully thick and is served hot and fresh.”

the holy pundit - Goan fish curry
Goan Fish Curry

Goan Fish Curry

The first of the main courses on our table was the Goan Fish Curry. The fish was perfectly tender and meaty, soaking up the tangy spice from the smooth sauce. A beautiful dish. Chef Saurav said: “Our Goan Fish Curry is a celebration of coastal flavours, blending a mix of Indian spices like cumin, ajwain, and coriander with influences from Portuguese cuisine, reflecting the cultural tapestry of Goa. It is cooked with huge King Fish steaks and boiled in coconut milk tempered with curry leaves.”

the holy pundit - murgh makhani
Murgh Makhani

Murgh Makhani

Often referred to as Butter Chicken and often compared to Chicken Tikka Masala, Murgh Makhani is the traditional dish originating in Delhi. This is one of the signature dishes at The Holy Pundit, and their version has a deliciously rich and flavourful sauce, with a smoky quality to the chicken. “To create our Murgh Makhani, boneless chicken pieces are marinated in a blend of yoghurt, lemon juice, and a mix of garam masala, ginger, garlic, and Kashmiri red chilli powder. After marinating, the chicken is cooked in a tandoor, imparting a smoky essence and tenderness that elevates the dish. The hallmark of Murgh Makhani lies in its creamy tomato sauce. The base sauce is prepared by simmering tomatoes, some onions, cashews, and a spice mix of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and fenugreek seeds. This simmered mixture is then pureed to create a smooth, rich texture.”

the holy pundit - chicken pahadi tikka
Chicken Pahadi Tikka

Chicken Pahadi Tikka

Chicken Pahadi Tikka is one of the signature starter items of The Holy Pundit, but is also available as a main dish, which is how we enjoyed it. This flavourful tikka is a fusion of tender chicken pieces marinated in vibrant green-hued spices and herbs, and it was just spectacularly good. “The marinade for Chicken Pahadi Tikka is what sets it apart,” said Saurav. “It’s a concoction of fresh green herbs – coriander leaves, mint leaves – green chilies, ginger, garlic, and a touch of yoghurt for creaminess. These ingredients are blended into a smooth paste, resulting in a vibrant green marinade that’s as visually appealing as it is aromatic.” Their Pahadi Tikka stays true to its roots, with the Pahadi region being known for its lush greenery and serene landscapes.

The holy pundit - lamb madras
Lamb Madras

Lamb Madras

It’s always good to try an old favourite in any Indian restaurant for a bit of comparison, and to see if they add any special twists to the dish. We went for the Lamb Madras, and it was stunning. You can taste the care and attention that is put into every dish here, and the Madras was no different. Worlds apart from your average curry house Madras, the authenticity shone through in the flavours and spices that permeated every mouthful.

“The spice mix includes coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and dried red chilies,” said Saurav, sharing his secrets enthusiastically. “We toast and grind them to create a base that infuses the dish with its distinctive flavour profile. The lamb pieces are cooked low and slow in this fragrant and spicy sauce, allowing the meat to absorb the intense flavours while becoming tender and succulent. Alongside the spices, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger contribute to the sauce, adding depth and richness to the dish.”

the holy pundit - Mumbai potato
Mumbai Potato
The Holy Pundit special dal
Pundit Special Dal

Superb Side Dishes

To complement our incredible main dishes, we ordered Mumbai Potato, more commonly called Bombay Potato, and the Pundit Special Dal, a gorgeous curried lentil dish. As you would expect, these were bursting with flavour, and were both outstanding.

the holy pundit, leftovers
Leftovers!

Lovely Leftovers For Lunch

With so much delicious food, and the naan bread and rice too, we couldn’t eat it all! So the staff let us take it away with us, and it was an absolute mountain of food to enjoy for lunch the next day. Overall, it was incredible value for money.

When Saurav came out of the kitchen to chat and check everything was ok with our meal, it was to a table of happy faces and satisfied bellies. His grateful, humble demeanour was charming but his passion was evident in the way he spoke to us about the food, and it really shows in the end result.

We think the team have brought something special to Folkestone that the town hasn’t seen before. The Holy Pundit is most definitely the most authentic Indian restaurant in Folkestone, and many people don’t even know it exists!

You can find The Holy Pundit upstairs in The Mariner, 16 The Stade, Folkestone. Visit their website for more details. To book a table or to order takeaway, you can go online or call 01303 627771. Don’t forget to follow @theholypundit on Instagram and like their Facebook Page too!

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