Planet India has been on my list of Brighton eateries to try for a long while. Every review about the place I have ever heard seems to be unwaveringly positive and Trip Advisor ratings no different. A small, family run establishment serving traditional, vegetarian Indian cuisine Planet India prides itself on serving simple food done right.
The restaurant is situated a short hop from the centre of Brighton and is so popular that booking is essential. My friends and I just managed to reserve the last available table for a Friday night meal and were excited to finally discover what all the fuss is about. We had a couple of hours to kill before our reservation time so naturally went to the pub and arrived a little merry and extremely hungry to a warm welcome from the owner, who infamously wanders around with no shoes on.
Do you want the tasty bread or the healthy bread?
Planet India is small, colourful, bustling and has a distinctive atmosphere more akin to being at a friend’s house for dinner than a ‘proper’ restaurant. There are hippy-tastic drapes of brightly dyed Indian fabric hanging from the ceiling which the owner described as “cheesy” – but we found charming. Photos of the family who own the restaurant adorn the walls and the furniture is definitely well-worn. Planet India is perfectly suited for a relaxed evening with friends but possibly might ere on the side of too quirky for anything more formal or romantic in nature.
There are a number of craft beers to choose from, all of which are served with the spiciest nuts I have ever eaten in my life, which we enjoyed whilst scouring the menu. When it came to ordering we wanted to sample as many dishes as possible and although the menu is small, everything sounded delicious so we were torn. Eventually we let our waiter choose the starters for us. His one question was whether we wanted it to be accompanied “by the healthy bread, or the tasty bread?” Naturally we went for the tasty bread (which was, as described, very tasty).
Our waiter recommended a number of dishes including bhel puri and crispy poppadum-like balls which you DIY fill with different toppings and then pour a sauce into before munching whole. I have forgotten their name but they are pictured below. These were fun to assemble, crunchy and generally delicious.
Would you say you are very hungry, or very greedy?
Next up was the mains and once again we were struggling to decide what to have. Luckily Planet India offers “half and half” curries so you can effectively try two dishes in one. With this revelation the decision was suddenly made much clearer: we would order everything on the menu. Our waiter seemed surprised by this and reasonably enough asked the question of whether we were very hungry or very greedy, because if the answer was just hungry our eyes were most probably bigger than our stomachs. We assured him that we were undoubtedly very greedy, and would be able to handle the mammoth feast.
When the banquet arrived it was slightly daunting but as soon as we started eating the curry it was clear that everything would be devoured. From lentil based curry to spinach and spiced aubergine dishes with seriously chunky lime pickle on the side, everything tasted divine and the plates were emptied clean.
I can understand that Planet India won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as it is no fine dining experience (the table water is served out of recycled plastic bottles and the furnishing has seen better days) however we had a great evening and will certainly be returning. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed; the food is authentic, tasty and 100% vegetarian. Both the owners and waiters were all good-humoured, attentive and added to the sociable atmosphere. Conclusion: If you want a fun evening out with good friends and good food – go!