'We have great hopes and are always confident' - Family business, The Pakora Bar, launches second Edinburgh restaurant

Even Covid won’t stop this entrepreneurial family from serving up their best-selling haggis pakora

The Singh family in The Pakora Bar

Stroll along Edinburgh’s Hanover Street and you’re certain to be hit by a whiff of something ultra-savoury and hunger-inducing.

The smell of The Pakora Bar is like the old Bisto advert, with the smell beckoning you hither like an invisible hand.

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Sadly, restrictions mean that this place is currently only offering delivery or takeaway.

That hasn’t, however, stopped them from progressing with their second outpost - The Pakora [email protected] Mile.

It’s due to open at the end of March, so soon we won’t be able to trundle along the Canongate either, without our stomachs rumbling.

“We want to do things bigger and bolder,” says Mark Singh, 38, who owns the family businesses along with his dad, John, 62, mum, Rajinder, 61, and brothers Paul, 39, and Brian, 25. “There will be more seating at the new restaurant, with a capacity of nearly 60 and we’ll have a gorgeous outside space for the summer, where you can enjoy masala chai, lassi, and cocktails, come rain or shine”.

They will also offer takeaways and have a self-service checkout area, so you don’t have to enter the premises, which is situated in the spot that was once Edinburgh’s upmarket Plaisir du Chocolat, then Cafe Truva.

The Pakora Bar's menu

The Singh’s have called in the capital’s maximalist design company, Ja!Coco!, to redesign the interior and make use of the covered seating area under the arches.

While Hanover Street’s Pakora Bar is recognisable thanks to its green livery, the new restaurant will feature splashes of optimistic orange.

As with many of the Scottish restaurants that are opening this spring, these plans were in the offing way before Covid struck.

“We always wanted to have a shop on the Royal Mile,” says Mark. “We looked for years and managed to secure one before the pandemic. It’s just bad luck, we didn't think Covid would last this long. The lockdown has been a struggle. As a family, we are used to working hard. However, it’s been difficult financially and tough on our mental health”.

The Pakora Bar curry

If you haven’t been to the original Pakora Bar, its menu features the eponymous treat, with variations including black pudding, avocado and paneer, as well as wraps, samosa, curries and dhal. Their signature dish is the haggis pakora.

“It’s made with seven different herbs and spices, moist inside and crispy on the outside. We serve it with a homemade mango chutney sauce”, says Mark.

Their recipes are created by John and Rajinder, though the sons pitch in with ideas for specials.

The newer restaurant will offer lots of their familiar favourites, but also a few new additions.

Takeaway boxes from The Pakora Bar

“We decided to come up with a traditional Punjabi style breakfast, with our Scottish twist, as well as an afternoon chai, and we’ll have Indian sweets from the company, Barfia “ Mark says. “It’s something the Scottish and visitors will love”.

We’re sure that, when tourists return, they’ll gravitate towards the cooking smells.

As Mark says; “We have great hopes and are always confident, but with Covid, anything is possible. It’s all in Waheguruji’s hands”.

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