Daaku, Penryn, Cornwall: restaurant review
Try masala fried hog’s pudding, fragrant prawn curry and halva with Cornish clotted cream at Penryn’s boatyard Indian
Looking for restaurants in Cornwall? Read our review of Indian restaurant Daaku, and check out our guide for the best Indian restaurants in London here.
Daaku in a nutshell
Two worlds meet in the kitchen of Daaku (meaning ‘bandit’ in Punjabi) where guests are treated to a fusion of Cornish ingredients and Indian cooking. Daaku brings a riot of Jaipurian colour and Rajasthani flavour to this speakeasy-style location on the dockside at Islington Wharf.
Husband-and-wife team Ben Martin and Jasmine Sharma design their weekly menus together, starting with the best seasonal produce from land and sea. Of Punjabi heritage, Jasmine lived in several different regions in India but grew up principally in Rajasthan. She imbibed her love of food from different family members – on the night we visited her mother was in the kitchen, having been put to work while on holiday in the UK. Jasmine’s husband Ben is a Cornish epicurean with a love of regional ingredients, who shares his wife’s knowledge and passion for Indian food.
What’s the vibe?
Daaku is an explosion of bright colour and eclectic Indian decoration. If it weren’t for the view of gently swaying boat masts, soaring seagulls and a muddy Cornish riverside, you could almost be in Jaipur.
What’s the food like at Daaku?
The menu is short as new dishes are freshly prepared each week, with three starters, three main courses (meat, fish, vegan) and three desserts. Each main is served with all the fitting accompaniments, generally rice, chapati and a chutney. Day-boat fishermen, family farms and market gardens supply the core ingredients, while Ben and Jasmine source and blend their own spices.
A starter of masala fried hog’s pudding (Cornish white pudding) is a highlight, the fat of the sausage complemented by a piquant, spiced salsa verde and pickled cucumber. Vegan samosas are well balanced, arriving with a tamarind sauce that made our tongues prickle. Goan prawn curry is delicate and fragrant, dal makhani is smoky and comforting, while barre ke koftay (beef meatballs) is rich without masking the intensely bovine flavours of the meat.
For dessert our friendly and enthusiastic waiter Elliot recommended halva, with almonds and clarified butter, served with Cornish clotted cream – it’s like a warm hug on a wet Cornish day. This is down-right delicious food.
And the drinks?
Ben and Jasmine have taken care to choose wines that complement Indian food and it’s well worth opting for their recommendations. Indian lagers and Old Monk Rum – an Indian staple and a family favourite – are also available.
Make the most of the restaurant’s new cocktail bar, Daaku Durbar, for the summer.
Daaku, Islington Wharf, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 8AT
Words by Lucy Studley
First photograph by Andrew Tweedie