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Restaurant review: Old school Elgin favourite Qismat is a safe bet for quality Indian cuisine

Qismat has been part of Elgin's dining scene for years, but what did I make of it when I paid a visit recently?

Some of the dishes at Qismat. Images: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson
Some of the dishes at Qismat. Images: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

There’s something in the water in Elgin just now. It seems every few weeks there’s news of a new opening and I, for one, am all for it.

The town isn’t somewhere I’ve frequented often, but when I do, I’m always left touched by its charm.

From the farmers’ market to the busying bar scene, not to mention the likes of Orrin bringing a fine dining offering to the area, it seems to be a bit of a foodie haven at the moment.

But while new places are exciting, there’s space for everyone, including the already well-established roster of restaurants that have called Elgin home for a while.

Outside Qismat. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

One of those includes the Indian restaurant Qismat.

I first came across the brand at the Distilled drinks festival where their new (at the time) street food truck was serving up some options. I adored the flavours of the curry I got and vouched to pay a visit when I could.

A recent trip north to Findhorn with my best friend presented the perfect opportunity.


I’d booked us a table on the Thursday night at 7.30pm at the restaurant on the High Street, not expecting it to be too busy. When we walked in there were numerous tables occupied, with many boasting a few bigger groups.

The large bar opens up as you make your way into the dining room, which itself is long and narrow.

Inside the long, narrow venue. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

There’s booth seating and some normal tables and chairs, although we were both delighted when our server nodded towards the booth we’d be dining in.

It’s a bit of a habit now to ask for recommendations and our server suggested some of his favourites as he presented some poppadoms and condiments.

The korma with honey and South Indian curry are two of his must-tries.

The entrance of Qismat is warm and welcoming. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

The food

My bestie is a bit of a tandoor snob. So it was no surprise she’d already eyed up the tandoori prawns for us to share.

The dish I opted for was the chicken tikka puri thanks to our server’s suggestion. I’m glad I ordered it as it was one of our favourites.

The chicken tikka puri is a must-try starter. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Served on puri (deep-fried bread) the smoky tomato sauce the chicken had been cooked in was exceptional. Its consistency was like a thick puree and the meat was juicy, plus, there was a lot of it. The bread wasn’t too thick, nor was it oily, and it was very easy to cut into.

Despite it being a heavy, large starter for one person, we managed no problem.

There was plenty to eat in the chicken starter. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Three big tandoori prawns were lightly coated in a bright red sauce. The prawns themselves were massive and served butterflied, but my friend was left a little disappointed as she said they were missing that tandoor flavour she loved.

They also had either not been left long enough in the marinate to soak up the flavour, or the marinate wasn’t seasoned enough as there wasn’t much flavour to it.

Tandoori king prawns. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

We’d polished off the poppadoms and condiments by the time our starters needed cleared, so we had a clear table ready for the main event.

Two curries, kabli naan, a portion of pilau rice and Bombay potatoes.

Lauren loves lamb so she picked a Makhani and I went for the South Indian curry with chicken.

Both were very thick and chunky, with mine boasting big pieces of veg in it. My one was more tomato-based while hers had a strong taste of gravy.

Her slow-cooked lamb was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth and my chicken was also good.

Although the South India curry with chicken had chillies in it, it didn’t have the flavour I was hoping for. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Where mine boated veg like peppers and chillies, which didn’t provide as much of a kick as anticipated, hers had peanuts in it giving the off mouthful a lovely crunch.

The Bombay potatoes tasted quite similar to my curry with their tomato base. The tatties were soft and there was enough to split between two.

As for the rice, it was served on a plate, which I found a little odd. It was hard to scoop up as a result and was a little on the hard side, although the sauce definitely helped loosen it.

We both tore at the enormous kabli naan, loving every saucy piece we’d dipped into and smothered in the curry sauces. The bread was very sweet with stuffed nuts, sultanas and coconut in it. It was a generous portion, but between us we managed to polish it off.

The vibrant lamb Makhani. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

We were full to the brim and couldn’t eat another morsel, that was until we received chocolate mints with the bill.

Confectionary consumed I paid our dues and we headed back to the car.

Funnily enough, on our way we passed the newly reopened, and very busy, Badenoch just down the road – another cool spot that’s been given a new lease of life.

The verdict

The offering at Qismat is diverse and expansive and that can be overwhelming for some diners. It is worth seeking advice on what to order, and how much to order, as the staff couldn’t be more helpful.

While the food was good it didn’t blow us away like we had hoped.

If you are looking for a meal that is sure to leave you feeling satisfied and is good value for money then pop into Qismat.


Address: 204 High Street, Elgin IV30 1BA

T: 01343 541461


Price: £62.75 for two starters, two curries, one kabli naan, pilau rice and Bombay potatoes


  • Food: 3/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Surroundings: 3.5/5