Tuk Tuk has a pretty awesome reputation in Edinburgh, and for good reason. Its Indian tapas style dining experience is one of the most notable in the city, and it prides itself in serving up authentic Indian food.
Update! Stay tuned until the end of the post to read about my latest visit to Tuk Tuk where I try their tasty vegan dishes!
Now as I’ve mentioned before, I am no stranger to ‘proper’ Indian food and honestly while I would probably struggle to find a lot of the dishes on Tuk Tuk’s menu on the streets of Pune, there are a couple of genuine articles in there. The dishes are imaginative and oh so delicious that even if it didn’t serve up the generous helpings of nostalgia, I would still come back time and time again.
Tuk Tuk’s layout looks like it very much encourages communal dining. There is no “you order your dish and I’ll order mine” nonsense around here, you basically ask for a load of stuff, everyone’s is everyone’s, and you just get stuck in!
Now, the menu recommends “3-4 dishes per person”, but Mr Bug and I spotted so many dishes we liked the sound of that we may have.. ahem… ordered slightly over that.
Please don’t make our mistake – we definitely ordered too much and I felt painfully full afterwards! If you want my advice, order three dishes to start and then see how you go, you can always order more (although I totally understand that after you’ve seen the menu, that can be bit easier said than done)!
As we waited for our dishes to arrive, we had some drinks which I think deserve a notable mention. They have a wide variety of lassi, which is a yoghurt based drink sweetened with fruit such as mango. I decided to splash out and treat myself to one – not only are they really tasty, but they are great for cooling your mouth down if you find some food a bit too spicy.
Meanwhile, Mr Bug ordered a bottle of Limca. Tuk Tuk is probably one of the few places outside the Indian subcontinent you can get one of these bad boys, and if you’ve never tried them before, then it’s absolutely essential that you do!
Limca is a really popular drink in India, a very sweet lemonade with a hint of spice, and I practically lived off the stuff when I was over there. It’s really good and it’s definitely one of the reasons I keep coming back to Tuk Tuk!
To start, Mr Bug had the Mumbai Burger, which was a potato patty fried, served in a bun along with some onion bhaji. It was very good, a little spicy though (even for me!) so be sure to keep that lassi to hand if it gets a bit much!
I had the pakora platter, and I must say these are pretty authentic as far as pakora go. You’ll very rarely find “vegetable pakora” in India as we would recognise them, rather you’ll more likely get served slices of vegetable (potatoes, onions, peppers etc) deep fried in batter – and that’s exactly what you get at Tuk Tuk.
The batter is lovely and flavoursome, again with a kick to it, but I was absolutely perfect for me. These were really tasty and moreish, but I was aware I had to save some room and there was still plenty to come…
Next up was the channa puri, which was a chickpea curry served with a deep fried flatbread. Admittedly the flatbread was a bit on the oily side for me, but you can’t really go wrong with a chickpea curry and this dish did not disappoint. It worked well with a side serving of rice, or you could dip the flatbread in it, if you fancy.
Along with that came the Daal Makhni. I think it was around this point that I realised we had over-ordered and I was beginning to hate myself a little bit, but I powered through nonetheless!
This daal was make from kidney beans and had a very rich flavour, a big departure from the usual daal with lentils that most would be more familiar with. It was different but it was still very good!
Mr Bug ordered a couple of bun kebabs, which were probably the least “authentic” thing on the menu, but still pretty tasty. They were like little mini burgers, with little lamb patties and cheese, lettuce and tomato on each.
They were a nice size to be enjoyed as part of a larger meal, but tackling them so late into the game was probably a bit of a mistake, as the amount of bread in the bun was a bit overwhelming for my rapidly expanding belly!
I was keen to try a poultry dish and so went for the garlic chilli chicken. It was lovely and tender, with a rich sour ginger sauce. It was a good accompaniment to everything else we ordered and a good bet for anyone who wants to try their chicken with something a little bit different.
My favourite dish of the evening was the saag paneer. If I ever see a paneer dish on a menu, I am instantly sold as it is so yummy and yet sometimes quite hard to come by. It is a traditional Indian cheese, kind of like cottage cheese, and comes in lots of vegetarian curries.
Tuk Tuk served it with spinach, and it was a delicious combo. The sauce complimented the big chunky bits of cheese perfectly, while still being fairly light. This is one dish that I scraped completely clean!
By this point, Mr Bug and I were well and truly stuffed like the proverbial Christmas turkey. We left the establishment and wobbled home, our bellies full with tasty Indian deliciousness.
July 2016 – Vegan Tuk Tuk
Nearly a year later, and a lot has changed since my first documented visit to Tuk Tuk. I have a new fancy camera, I am slightly more obsessed with image editing and I have adopted a vegan diet (seriously, that garlic chilli chicken seems like a world away now)!
I’ve also made some new vegan chums, so I was invited along a couple of nights ago to try out their vegan menu. I was delighted to see that the menu is very clearly labeled – so if you go for the vegetarian, dairy free dishes you should be all set (although best to double check with the server before ordering, just to make sure).
As I supped away at my usual order of a bottle of Limca, one of my dining companions were a bit more adventurous and ordered a “mint mambo”. Even though I love Limca to the ends of the earth, I must admit I got a little bit of beverage envy – it looked absolutely incredible.
As we waited for our main dishes to arrive, we lined our stomachs with poppadoms and a selection of chutneys – of course, the mango chutney was my favourite.
We didn’t have to wait long until our dishes came out. We all ordered about 3 dishes each, but to be honest when everything came to the table we forgot whose was whose and it turned a little bit into a delicious vegan curry free-for-all!
Unfortunately most of the dhals had butter in them, but there were a few wet curry dishes that were vegan friendly – including the aloo bindi (potatoes and okra) and the baby aubergine with potatoes. The channa puri is also meat and dairy free, which it went down nicely with a side helping of pilau rice and a chapati.
We also ordered a couple of interesting cold dishes, including golgappa and the bhel puri. The description of golgappa on the menu wasn’t hugely helpful (“you will have to taste it to experience it” is pretty much all it says) but seen as it was vegan we decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a try. It ended up being cold crispy puffs, served with a small dollop of sticky rice inside and some spicy sauce on the side. I poured a little sauce into my puff and ate the thing whole in one bite – it was certainly an interesting experience and one worth trying!
I was too full when the bhel puri came out, but it did look amazing and I’ll certainly be giving it a go when I inevitably return. Instead, I opted to finish my meal with a refreshing mug of fresh mint tea (no vegan puddings on the menu unfortunately – boo) before heading home, once again my belly full to bursting.
Tuk Tuk has its fair share of authentic Indian street food, but it’s not completely traditional by any stretch. There are some great experimental dishes on the menu too, as well as some of the old favourites, so order a selection of both and just have at it! The great food and fab dining atmosphere here makes it one of the best Indian style restaurants in Edinburgh.