cruising onboard azura – dinner at sindhu

Recently, Mr Greedy and I were extremely fortunate to sail onboard Azura, one of P&O’s 7-strong fleet of cruise ships for 5 nights, calling at Amsterdam (including an overnight stay) and Le Havre. As soon as we stepped on the ship, we knew we were in for a good time. The crew onboard are extremely friendly and helpful, and we had a great little outside cabin near the ship’s atrium.

Within half an hour of embarking, we were up on deck enjoying a drink in the sun (let’s pretend there were no cold winds, being in the UK in October!).

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There is one particular reason I had been looking forward to sailing onboard a P&O ship: Sindhu. The mastermind of Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, Sindhu features onboard 6 of the 7 P&O ships and is a massive hit with passengers. Reflecting Atul’s signature style of Indian and British fusion, the food certainly packs a punch. And me being me, I couldn’t help but book us in for our first night onboard – start as you mean to go on! Luckily, the restaurant had space and we set off for our first night onboard. From the moment we sat at the table, we felt as though we were in great hands – the waiters were attentive without hassling, and even helped us when we couldn’t decide on a wine. For those who are curious, we opted for an Indian Sauvignon Blanc called Sula, which is quite difficult to get your hands on in the UK without spending mega-bucks! It was lovely and complimented the food extremely well.

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In Sindhu, you can select 3 courses from a varied and well-balanced menu – a starter, main and dessert, plus any desired side dishes. This is all included in the £20 cover charge to dine there, and only drinks come at an extra charge. We placed our orders and shortly after, a complimentary portion of poppadoms arrived with an array of chutneys – mango, mango and pomegranate and lemon and chilli pickle. All tasted fantastic and freshly made, and really had us looking forward to our meal. As you can tell, I couldn’t even wait to take the photo before tucking in!

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But that was not all! Before we received our starter, we were served another complimentary course of spiced potato with coconut chutney. The perfect size for an amuse bouche, this dish had a tantalising garlic scent and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

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The sheer quality and finesse of food in this restaurant is unique to Atul’s style of cooking – refined, high quality Indian-inspired food. Our starters arrived, and they exceeded all expectations. I have a weakness for anything made with potato, so I opted for a trio of gallettes – potato, kidney bean and pea, with mint and tamarind chutney. Each of the gallettes was topped with a different, accompaniment to compliment the flavour. It was fantastic, and I genuinely could have eaten it again 5 times over!

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Mr Greedy ordered spiced cod with minted peas, and really enjoyed them. We don’t eat fish at home (as I don’t cook it!) so any opportunity he has to order a great fish dish, he takes it!

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Our waiter took a shine to us, as we were tell him about our upcoming trip to India in March, where we plan to visit Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi and Goa. He was full of recommendations and so happy that we were visiting such a wonderful country. If any readers have suggestions for places to visit or eat, please do let me know – I am desperate to make the most of our journey.

Our main courses were, undoubtedly, amazing. It’s not very often that you have the option to order an Indian beef dish, so when I saw that Sindhu served tenderloin I jumped at the chance to try it. This is where the British influence plays a part and allows Atul and his team to explore new, non-traditional Indian flavours. The beef was served with a Marsala (yes, you did read correctly! Marsala, not Masala) sauce that was so glossy, it coated the meat like a glaze, plus sesame cauliflower, potatoes and slow cooked onions. The cauliflower in particular was a really interesting addition to the plate and added a fragrant yet fresh element. Mr Greedy tucked into lamb served 3 ways with spinach gnocci and asparagus. I loved the sound of this dish and nearly opted for it myself, but I’m glad we both got to try 2 different dishes. I love the addition of gnocci – an Italian staple, yet with flavours that arguably work fantastically with Indian cuisine.

Not only did we receive the mains, but we also received a number of side dishes – 3 different breads, basmati rice, dal and a broad bean and potato curry.

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For me, this was quite a heavy meal and I was in need of a light and refreshing dessert. I have a limit on how much I can physically eat in one sitting, and struggle to overeat. Having looked through the menu, I spotted the perfect dessert – fresh watermelon with melon jelly, mint granita and rose syrup. It was incredibly beautiful, and even came with a bonus layer of panna cotta! I’m not a fan of rose flavours, but I actually couldn’t taste it – the dish managed to make melon the star of the show, which can be incredibly difficult with such a mild flavour.

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I have a food limit. Mr Greedy on the other hand? Not so much. Of course, he orders the prime dessert on the menu – the dark chocolate sphere. This is the only dessert I had heard anybody else around us in the restaurant order, and it definitely did the trick. The waiter brought out the sphere, and poured over a warmed sauce to melt away the chocolate. Great theatrical element, and ensured that I had a very happy boy!

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As we sat back in our chairs, rubbing our full stomachs and finishing off the fantastic wine, the waiter approached the table again with another plate. As we started to think to ourselves “oh no, not more food…”, he placed it down on the table and intrigue took over. He talked us through all of the elements, which were incredibly light and perfect for the end of the meal. From top to bottom – lemon and ginger jelly, saffron shortbread, sticky nut brittle and seed mix.

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The meal really was fantastic, and a great representation of Atul’s cuisine. I’m now even more desperate to get to Benares and try it cooked to his own Michelin standard!  Maybe one day!

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