Kerala (no lunch) Zone

Curry News

Seems the newly reopened Kerala Zone in Trafalgar Road has given up its lunch time offerings. As from last week (October 6) they are now only open from 6pm. See GCC review on August 25, 2010.

A Lamb Dubby and other new dishes

1. Reviews (London)

Taste of Raj, Blackheath

It’s a sleepy late summer Tuesday and we’re in the middle of the recession. Blackheath’s Taste of Raj, sitting in the shadow of the village’s iconic All Saints’ Church on the heath, is packed. And this in a village (please, please, always refer to SE3 as a ‘village’ or you’ll upset the genteel locals) where there are “17 other restaurants” I am told by a man in the know. There have been good advance reports. “Best curry place in the area,” curry lover Tina announces when she hears we are off for a visit. She could just be right.

The menu’s a cracker, with a selection of special dishes including Lamb Dubby (£7.50) which uses plenty of Kashmiri chilli and petals from the cockscomb flower and Chicken Dhandar (£7.50) a sort of creamy dhansak with a late spice kick. There are also rarities like the super fresh tasting Tandoori Scallops (£5.95), Courgettes (£4.50) stuffed with potato, onion and coriander and vegetable side dish Broccoli Bhajee (£3.50).

Tandoori Scallops

They may all look the same but they certainly don't taste the same. Lamb Dubby far left, Chicken Dhandar second from right

Unusually all the main dishes appear looking exactly the same colour (although they certainly don’t taste the same) so I think it’s safe to say there’s none of the usual colouring used to electrify the look of the dishes here. And hip hip hooray, here’s an Indian chef who knows to keep his chicken moist and tender rather than relying on the sauces to cover up his over-cooking.

The restaurant layout is two sections joined by a little pinch point where you’ll find the bar and one table (where we sit) and this design successfully creates a good buzz while keeping the intimate feel of a small restaurant.

And as always, it’s the little extras. A complimentary soup and ‘magic mushroom’ (that’s a tasty fungi not something you’ll find in Amsterdam) to start, as well as the increasingly common ‘drink on the house’ as we pay the bill, following the less-than-usual orange slices after the main meals.

There’s a little sign in the window declaring ‘Open all Day’. This place would probably even be busy at 4.30.

• Taste of Raj, 9 Royal Parade, Blackheath Village, London, SE3 0TL. Tel: 020 8244 2823 or 020 8244 2822. Open: Daily noon – midnight.

Taste of Raj snapshot

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Taste of Raj on Urbanspoon

Meeting (September 2010)

Uncategorized

Get a Taste of Raj (9 Royal Parade, Blackheath Village, SE3 0TL) at 8pm, Tuesday 21 September with your fun-loving curry friends. Meet in the Hare and Billet pub from 7pm. Numbers strictly limited to how many we can fit into the curry house. Or how many turn up.

Whoops! That was nearly a pizza

2. Reviews (Other UK)

Spice Lounge, Petersfield

“This is a strange-looking Indian,” Perry says. “It looks more like a pizza place.” Perry likes Indian food but says he can never remember what he likes so every time he eats it’s a new experience.

The entrance to Spice Lounge in this sleepy Hampshire market town (where was everyone? In the new Wetherspoon we learnt later) is upstairs and it’s easy to wander into their downstairs neighbours, an Italian place, as they share a man entrance. Now, I’ve nothing against Italian food, it seems to fuel all those guys in the mafia films, so it’s probably best not to put it down, but really, can pasta every be chosen over a spice rush?

Head upstairs and you’ll be rewarded with a gem of a place with low ceilings, oak beams, little snugs and, for those by the window, a peak into the town (where there are no people). A country Indian, now that’s the style.

Our Bangladeshi waiter, who’s proudly from Dhaka, not Sylhet, the area which supplies most of the curry house chefs and waiters, doesn’t look too impressed with my choice of Chicken Sali Boti (£8.95), which the menu trumpets as a popular wedding dish. It’s a wedding dish because everyone can eat it he says politely but it’s still a double-edged sword of a comment. Anyway, he prefers something way more spicy. Has spice every day he says. I like him already.

The apricots in this Parsi dish give it a nice zing, but I see what he means; it’s nice but won’t set the world on fire.

Our Dhaka friend seems more impressed with my other choice of Lamb Achari (£8.95). I can’t get enough of lime pickle so when I discovered a dish that used pickle in the cooking process I thought I’d hit gold and now it’s a regular order. More zing than those namby pamby apricots.

Perry declares he likes both dishes. Although as his curry menu memory is so bad it’s unlikely he’ll ever be able to find them again. Hopefully he’ll find this great little venue again though.

• Spice Lounge, 1-2 The Square, Petersfield, GU32 3HJ. Tel: 01739 303303. Open: daily noon-2pm, 5.30pm-11.30pm.

Spice Lounge snapshot

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We don’t serve beer sir

2. Reviews (Other UK)

Simply Indian, Aldershot

“Four papadams and two beers please.”

You know the score every time you enter a curry house. The poor waiter has hardly got time to say hello and the standard order is out of the mouths of most of us. So I’ve always admired places that don’t serve alcohol (usually because of their Muslim faith) proving that their food can conquer all. Simply Indian is one such place, “because we prefer to concentrate on the food, which is what we do best,” I am told.

You’re allowed to bring your own booze, and handily there’s a shop just a few steps away, but true to their word, food is what they do best.

Sometimes the confidence in someone’s voice is enough to convince us of anything, but this time the manager’s sureness of his food’s quality was true to form not bull. This unassuming place, near Aldershot station, and with a sort of smart canteen feel to it, serves seriously decent food.

From tandoori starters (Tandoori Chicken £3.20), to classic dishes (Lamb Dansak £5.20), to the crushed chill hot (Lamb Patiwala £7.25), side dishes (Saag Aloo £2.75) and the extras (Pilao rice £2.30, Naan £2.20) nothing could be faulted. A lot of Indian meals, especially when there is a hot dish on the table, can blur the taste buds, but here each flavour came through. This balance was especially true of the dansak, when often the sour is allowed to over-power the sweet of this Persian speciality.

“That’ll be four papadams and some tasty food,” next time I’m in then.

• Simply Indian, 14-16 Station Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 1HT. Tel: 01252 330 070 or 0800 783 1481. Open: Daily 5.30pm-11pm.

Simply Indian snapshot

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Dream curry trip!

Curry News
This has to be a curry lover’s dream holiday… Fresh from Pat Chapman, author and general curry expert

Pat Chapman's Curry Club
Luxury Gourmet Tour to North India 2011

Dates
Thursday 10th March 2011 to Thursday 24th March 2011.

Overview
Pat Chapman first took a Gourmet Tour to India in 1983 and he has to date taken 16 tours there, the most recent being last year, 2009. There are no other tours like this one. The tour is led and managed by Pat and his wife Dominique. Between them they have over 50 years experience of India including over journeys there. The tour takes in all the sights you’d expect to see plus some not available to regular tourists. You will stay in the best hotels in each place. Being a Gourmet Tour, your food is way, way better that tourist buffets. All meals mentioned in this itinerary are included in the price. Scroll down for more on the food.

Number of people in group
Maximum 14, (minimum 10) plus Dominique & Pat Chapman – Tour Managers.

Destinations
Mumbai (1 night), Aurangabad (2 nights), Udaipur (3 nights), Kumbhalgarh (1 night), Shahpura(1 night), Jaipur (2 nights), Agra (2 nights), Delhi (2 nights). The destinations have been carefully chosen to show you the best of historic and modern India, from chaotic cities to peaceful villages. The Nine hotels are all the best at the chosen destination. (Four are rated in the World’s Top 50). Fiveare genuinely former palaces, while the remaining four are hotels built for the purpose. A number of rural royal-owned palaces have been restored offering greater luxury rooming choice in unusual places where there used not to be choice. Their  devoted owners, have invested their all to make their venues attractive They aren’t as well heeled as the Taj Group’s (four) or Oberoi’s (one) (nor are they as expensive). But they are equally unmissable, located in interesting rural locations … not to mention conveniently placed en route which makes our day to day transit mileages managable.

International flights
Heathrow to Mumbai outbound, Delhi to Heathrow inbound, both on the modern fleet of the acclaimed Jet Airways.

Domestic flights
Deliberately kept to the minimum possible, (one on Day 3 and two on Day 5).

Road transporation
Day 2 to 5 and Day 16
Local a/c coaches for road transfers and sightseeing.
Day 5 to 15
All travel from Udaipur to the end of the tour is by road in a modern Volvo 40 seat air-conditioned coach on exclusive hire to our group. It will be crewed by a highly qualified driver and an assistant. Most Indian coaches are relatively primitive, no power sterring, their air-conditioning may or may not work, windows are small, the seating is uncomfortable and luggage space limited. We will be travelling up to 6 hours on transits between destinations on several occasions, so we consider it to be an absolute essential that you travel at European comfort and standards. There are very few Volvo coaches in India, infact the few Indian companies that offer them for hire call them ‘hi-tech!’ We have booked one. So you can be sure of having plenty of space aboard. Each seat does a deep recline, and there are enough seats for you to spread out over two seats if you wish to do so.

The tour’s historical overview
North India has more historical monuments, than anywhere on earth, and not a moment too soon India has started to preserve them. Your route has been carefully chosen so that you see all the sights that the average India Tour group will see, plus a lot of sights they won’t see. We enter India via Bombay. Renamed Mumbai, it is India’s commercial centre. It’s typical of India with abject poverty in the slums and some housing costing more than that of Mayfair. Mumbai is and worth a look, but not a long stay, particulary when you find out how expensive it is. India is home to many religions and you will see several temples and mosques, including the ancent temples at Ellora. The subsequent tour will take you first into Mughal territory, then that of the Maharajas. You will visit no less that four of the six great emperors’ tombs including the most famous one of all, the Taj Mahal, and make comparisons between them. You’ll also visit their red forts and mosques. There were some 650 Maharajas until in 1965 they were stripped of their royal status. But as far as the people are concerend they still hold them in high respect, Many ex royals and their descendents are still around and to prevent the government comandering their palaces, they live in them, and unlike British stately homes, they let rooms on a hotel basis. You’ll meet some of them since you will stay in five former palaces and visit several more. The two of the richest are Udaipur and Jaipur. We return to Mughal lands with our stays in Agra and Delhi, where you will see some of what the British did for India.

Gourmet meals on the tour
24 Meals (excluding in-flight meals and 14 full breakfasts) The menus of all have been arranged with discussions between the chefs and Pat Chapman. We will be served 14 dinners and 10 lunches, 8 of which are at specialist outside restaurants and 16 of which are at our hotels of which 5 are held in private hotel locations exclusive to our group.

Meals on the tour
The regions and cities we visit all have distinctive cuisines, including Aurangabadi, Deccan, Maharashtran, Marathwadi, Mewari, Mughal, Mumbai and Rajasthani, and we have stipulated that our meals are cooked as accurately as possible. En route there are other fabulous culinary specialist cooks at venues where you will experience Gujarati, Lucknowi, south Indian and Tandoori cuisines and from India’s top chef, Modern Indian. In order to bring you as much culinary accuracy, variety and as little dish repetition as possible, Pat Chapman is in constant contact with all the Executive Chefs en route, many of whom he knows personally. They know he expects excellence and they rise to the challenge. They also know that the clients on Pat’s Gourmet Tours know Indian food, so do not expect the buffets proffered to the mass tourists. Twenty-four (10 lunches and 14 dinners) meals are provided on your 16 day holiday to north India. The are all specified in this itinerary and are included in the tour price, as are 14 full breakfasts and your in flight meals. All will give you ample portions, so most of the lunches are light and/or self-service and all the dinners are waiter-served allowing you to control your portions.

Four chef cooking demonstrations
Chefs are busy people and they don’t do demos for the masses.  You will meet four chefs, demonstrating four completely different food styles, in Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaisamand and Agra.

Excursions
Morning or afternoon city tours of Mumbai (Bombay), Aurangabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Full day tour to Jaisamand Lake, Rajasthan. Visits to four other key destinations: Dera Mera, Fatepjur Sikri, Bharatpur and Sikandra. Three Jeep excursions, two elephant rides and two boat trips.

Guide
On every excursion and city tour we engage the services of a fully licensed Guide. (It will be the same Guide acoompanying the coach from Udaipur to Delhi). Her/his expertise will be invaluable, as (s)he answers your local questions and fills us in on India’s economics, history and ecology.

Attention to detail
We hope we have thought of everything… it’s those little extra touches which count. Things like, cool water on the coach, fruit and flowers in your room, full moon at the Taj Mahal, the Elephant Festival, sound & light show, Holi Festival.

Cricket World Cup
No other country on earth worships cricket more than India and to prove it the cricket World Cup is in full swing during your March 2011 holiday, with the finals day on 2 April. And this is immediately followed by the world’s top players competing in India’s premier league, the IPL.  You will be able to follow the World Cup on your room TV.  India and England are in group B and these are the days on which they play.
6th March 2011  –  India v Ireland – Bengaluru
6th March 2011  –  England v South Africa – Chennai (Madras)
9th March 2011  –  India v Netherlands
11th March 2011  –  Bangladesh v England – Chittagong
12th March 2011 –   India v South Africa – Nagpur
17th March 2011  –  England v West Indies – Chennai (Madras)
20th March 2011  –  India v West Indies – Chennai (Madras)
23rd March 2011  –  Quarter Finals – Dhaka, Colombo, Ahmadebad
24th March 2011  –  Quarter Finals
25th March 2011  –  Quarter Finals
26th March 2011  –  Quarter Finals
29th March 2011  –  Semi Finals – Colombo
30th March 2011  –  Semi Finals – Mohali
2nd April 2011  –  Final – Mumbai (Bombay)

Tour extension
We have some lovely extension trips. Perhaps you would like to go to Goa to relax, read and rest, please let us know.

Tour price
£5,995 per person (sharing a twin or double room).

Full details

And so we return…

1. Reviews (London)

Kerala Zone, Greenwich

Blame the World Cup. Blame the Germans for whooping us. Blame the sun. I don’t know, blame anything. The GCC has been remiss and not met for a long time. Luckily we have forgotten the football (maybe) and the rain has returned to London so we had returned to the delights of curry.

“Word has it that the Kerala Zone has reopened,” says GCC member number one.

“We must check it out,” says GCC number two.

There follows lots of comments that blogs which know nothing about publishing law would write up. Crawly type things. Reasons it shut in the first place. All alleged.

“That’s just rumours,” says the fair-minded GCC member.

And he won the day. The World Cup was over. The GCC was back in action. A fine turnout; the usual crowd were ready for spice action.

So the Kerala Zone was back. Optimism abounded. The new (young) guys running the place are keen and friendly. We’d caught the place in newbie territory, with a takeaway style menu and decor to match. Bit unfair, it was clearly in the up-and-running mode, but it had a first-day-at-school air about the place.

Starters seemed universally deep fried and garnished with slices of carrot for some reason (Cashew Nut Pakoda £3.25). Star of the show of the mains was a Cochin Squid Curry (never had that before, £8.25) which was seriously tasty and soft. Your name wasn’t Paul was it Herr Squid?

• Kerala Zone, 119 Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, SE10 9TX. Tel: 020 8293 9158. Open: daily noon-3pm and 6pm-11pm.

Kerala Zone snapshot

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As it says

4. Takeaways

Curry Tandoor, Beckenham
(Takeaway)

Straight, simple and to the point. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense takeaway with decent prices and with a pub nearby for a pint if you are collecting, Curry Tandoor hits the spice spot.

There’s nothing elaborate about the place but the food comes promptly and at great prices (vegetable main dishes from £3.35, chicken classics £4.55 and even specials like Honey lamb at £5.65).

I just wish they’d told me about the 15% discount for collection orders over £15. With my bill hovering below that it would have actually been cheaper to order another (cheapish dish), pass the £15 mark and get the discount!

Parking: street parking on the Bromley Road or roads off it.

Delivery: free within three mile radius for minimum orders of £12. A charge of £2.50 if it’s under £12.

Specials: 15% discount for orders that are collected.

Beer while you’re waiting: the Oakhill is nearby and has a pleasant enough outside area, albeit by the road.

Curry Tandoor, 76 Bromley Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 5NP. Tel: 020 8658 4081. Open: Tues–Sun 5.30pm–11.30pm (midnight on Sat and Sun).

Curry Tandoor snapshot

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Meeting (April 2010)

Uncategorized

And so after much hand-wringing and talk of wild adventures to venues across the river (‘head East young man!’) the GCC has settled for the safety of home  (‘There’s no place like home, eh Dorothy?) And so the Taste of India (43 Greenwich Church St, Greenwich, SE10 9BL) gets the nod on Wednesday 21st April.

Giant step for currykind

Curry News

In a small step for bloggers but a giant step for GCC we’ve just notched up our 1,000 visitor. Yes, yes, I know that’s not going to send shockwaves through big blog city, but as this only started as a group of friends eating curry and writing about it a few months ago, not too bad… Like one of those supermarket’s that rewards their 1,000,000 customer with free groceries for a year, I’d offer our 1,000th visitor an Onion Bhaji if only I knew who it was. Ah never, mind, I’ll just order it myself next time.

At last, a green curry

1. Reviews (London)

Taste of India, Greenwich

I really like the tourists in Greenwich. I like the way they wander about with a guidebook, I like the thought that a smelly red telephone box appears to be the greatest thing they have set their eyes on, I like their nice matching jackets (couples) and I like their sensible walking shoes. But best of all I like that they go through the ritual of looking at the menus in pubs. Why bother? We all know they are only going to order fish and chips anyway.

The trouble is they’ve all pushed up the prices of a quick-and-easy pub lunch for the rest of us. Fish and chips? That’ll be a tenner, sir. Bangers and mash. Nearly the same.

Solution? Head to the Taste of India, where the lunchtime buffet is just £5.95. Treat it like a tasting menu: Chicken Pakora, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Jalfrezi, Lamb Karahi, Niramish (mixed vegetables), Tarka Dall (lentils), naan bread, the list goes on and on because the buffet changes every day.

There are also dishes that don’t appear on the regular menu. Which is how I finally found my green curry. If it’s not fresh vegetables then green is not a colour we normally associate with tasty food (think of our associations with algae etc) but the Taste of India’s Green Tandoori Chicken breaks the mould (prejudice).

The lunchtime menu is made for working through, but I found it impossible not to return for more of this green dish and forgo even a bit of a taste of the other dishes. It’s cooked in the tandoor, as would tikka, but it’s been marinated in mint instead of the spices that gives it the red colour. Who needs overpriced fish and chips anyway?

• Taste of India, 43 Greenwich Church St, Greenwich, SE10 9BL. Tel: 020 8858 2668/1380. Open: noon-2.15pm for lunch buffet

Taste of India snapshot

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(Still) in search of a green curry

3. Reviews (International)

Spicy Bite, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is expensive. Curry is painfully expensive. So Spicy Bite, tucked away downstairs in the Moor Mall is the place to head when you want curry without a hole in your pocket. For just €6.50 (not short of the price of starter in a restaurant) you get a buffet of (at my count) eight non-veg dishes, six veg dishes, six sambals, three types of rice dishes, nan, plus chips and prawn crackers for some reason. Tuck in.

You can see the skewers of meat being dropped into the tandoor oven just behind the counter so my tastebuds were raging for tandoori only to discover the super-red meat was disappointingly sweet. But, hey, after plates and plates of great food, hey, who’s complaining? Vegetable kofta (also sweet) topped the dishes on offer along with the Mixed Vegetable Curry.

Spicy Bite is next to similar places offering good value – the Taste of Africa, plus a Mauritian place and another similar Asian buffet. The decor is basic canteen-like but there is a great buzz in the place thanks to the mostly immigrant crowd who know good food and value when they find it, plus you get to see Bollywood movies as you eat or the clothes shops in the mall should you get bored with the food (unlikely). It gives window shopping a new meaning.

• Spicy Bite, Moor Mall, Moor St, Downstairs Lidl City Centre, Dublin 1, Ireland. Tel: 086 197 1423 (in Ireland). Open: daily 10am–8pm.

Spicy Bite snapshot

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In search of a green curry

3. Reviews (International)

Monsoon, Dublin, Ireland

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After copious amounts of Guinness on St Patrick’s Day (yes, I did see the parade – it was on the TV), it seemed only fitting to wrap up the early part of the day with a curry.

There might have been something fittingly green on the menu but one look at the prices (Prawn Chilli Masala €18.95, Kadhai Gosht €16.95) had us quickly flicking to the Early Bird Special (starter, main, rice or nan and bottle of beer for €20, served 5.30pm-7.30pm). It’s a reduced menu, but amid talk of Cheltenham Racing (‘You must have had a bit on that one to be sure’ etc) from neighbouring tables it was still enough for us to share the most perfectly cooked Chicken Tikka and Fish Tikka, plus a traditional Rogan Josh (oven-cooked with whole cumin, cassia and cloves), a creamy Goan prawn curry and a Chicken Makhani.

Tim’s big on Chicken Makhani (although insists calling every incarnation of it he ever eats Chicken Balti Tikka Masala) but reckons the Rogan Josh was ‘just like a stew your mum would cook up’.

Mmm, I reckon he’s missing the great taste of those whole spices and that deep, rich sauce. I must admit I love the modern version of the Rogan dish (Lamb or Chicken) that uses lots of tomatoes but lately I’ve been searching out the traditional Mughal version, which is getting more common as people increasing seek out ‘authentic’ Indian dishes instead of the Anglo-Indian inventions most of us grew up with.

I think the ‘authentic’ argument is a silly one anyway (isn’t there a place for all variations of this great food?) but I’ve admiration for an authentic Rogan Josh mainly because I tried to cook it once and failed badly. A stew indeed Mr Chicken Balti Tikka Masala.

• Monsoon, 306-8 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, 06, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 491-1666. E-mail: info@monsoon.ie. Open: Mon-Thur 5pm-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-midnight, Sun 12.30pm-4pm (buffet), and 5pm-11pm.

Monsoon snapshot

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Better than Natwest

1. Reviews (London)

March 2010

Mountain View, Blackheath

This is a great building for an Indian (Nepalese really, as the comment points out below) restaurant. Spacious, with high ceilings, and a classy bar area, it certainly makes a change from the tight, flock-wallpapered dens that most curry houses favour. The former Natwest Bank building, right across from Blackheath station, has a certain French feeling about it even, which is fitting as it was chosen by Mr Melange, our Parisian curry fan.

Warmed up by beers in the Railway opposite and a tongue tickler taste of the Dragon Slayer (see previous post), orders followed thick and fast after the complimentary sherry (sherry, in an Indian? That’s a first).

Scallops (£5.95), another Indian first, were spicy and great, Momos (£3.95) the minced-meat balls wrapped in soft pastry discovered in the Gurkha’s Inn on a previous meeting were back in action, along with Stuffed Pepper (£4.95). Thankfully, some sanity was restored to the starters by an order of Onion Bhaji (£2.95).

Ian, as usual, ordered something a bit different (Rapti Salmon Tikka, £7.95) and had to watch as everyone had a taste and his plate disappeared before his eyes. Fish is much underrated and ordered in Indians, I reckon, and the scallops and this salmon proved it shouldn’t be. Go on, next time try something other than chicken or lamb.

There was plenty of that on offer, notably Garlic Chilli Chicken (£6.95) ordered with extra chillies on the side no less, the good old Lamb Rogan (£6.95), and Lamb Jalfrazi (£7.95). And this being curry night, spinach had to appear on the table (cue, a plug for our first recipe, see previous entry…). It came in the form of Sag Aloo (£3.95) although Mr Parisian declared the potatoes got in the way. Addicted to spinach, now I’ve heard of everything.

• Mountain View, 1-3 Lee Road, Blackheath, SE3 9RQ. Tel: 020 8318-9912.

Mountain View snapshot

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Mountain View on Urbanspoon

‘I can’t feel my tongue’

Curry News

This little beauty, called Chilli Pepper Pete’s Dragon Slayer (chillipepperpete.com) is courtesy of Adam in Belushis (belushis.com) who passed this onto GCC after picking it up at the Brighton’s Fiery Foods Chilli Festival, which forms part of the Spring Harvest Festival (brightonspringharvest.com) from 11-21 March. It’s said to be the hottest thing they had there and wasn’t even put out in case the kiddies dipped their little fingers into it. GCC middle-aged kiddies are less concerned and (most) had a little dip before the most recent meeting. ‘Bloody hot’, ‘I can’t feel my tongue’ etc were comments, although to be fair the tingling does wear off after 15 minutes. The chef in the Mountain View restaurant in Blackheath declared this was something that’s used in Chinese coooking (like black bean sauce) not Indian. Although that didn’t stop us having a few more tastes at the table. Ingredients: blueberry, vinegar, Bith Jolokia, prunes, crystalized ginger, cherries, green tabasco, black treacle, 12mshu chilli extract, 15 MSU chilli crystal. Now you know.

Sag paneer

Recipes

Every time I go to an Indian restaurant, I order this dish as I enjoy it.  The best version in London that I have had is the one from the Punjab in Neal Street.  The vagar (sauce it is cooked in) is similar to many of my shaks but hey, it works so why not stick with it!

It is possible to make paneer at home which has a nicer consistency in my view than the shop bought ones. However, I have had some luck with versions bought in Sainsbury and Tesco. It is normally found in the cheese section. Indian groceries will often sell paneer in their chiller sections too.

If you have time, dry roast the cinnamon, cloves and cardamon in a flat pan. Dry roasting means you don’t put in any oil you just add the stuff and let it cook. Cook until you see vapour coming off the ingredients then take off heat. This helps release the flavours.

A general note about the spices – the quantities are not set in stone. You should amend them to fit your taste. The only thing I would watch is the salt as spinach tends to become quite salty. But if you are not a fan of a particular ingredient then leave it out!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs groundnut oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large dried bayleaf
  • 1 large white onion – diced very finely
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 1 – 2 chillies chopped finely
  • 2 sticks cinnamon (about 5 cm long each)
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 green cardamon
  • 1tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jeeru)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes chopped into very small dice. Get very red tomatoes that are fresh.
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 pack paneer – open and chop into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 pack baby spinach – wash out all grit
  • Squeeze of lemon juice1

 

1. Heat oil in a pan and add bayleaf. Heat should be set to medium – you don’t want to burn anything!

2. Add cumin seeds and wait for them to start to sizzle.

3. Add the onion and let them cook until they start to caramelise/brown.

4. Add garlic, ginger and chillis and allow to cook for a few seconds.

5. Add cinammon, cloves and cardamon – again let cook for a few seconds. Keep stirring all these ingredients as you add spices.

6. When spices have had time to cook out (a few minutes), add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Up to this stage, you are making what is known as vagar. It’s the sauce you will put your main ingredients into. The intention is to let the tomatoes reduce.

7. Add the paneer and ensure it is well coated with the vagar.

8. Add the spinach and let it wilt down.

9. Add a little water and turn down the heat to a simmer. Let this cook for about 20 minutes. The paneer should be soft and have absorbed much of the vagar. The spinach should be completely wilted

10. Squeeze in the lemon juice, stir, cook for another 2 minutes, then turn off to heat

 

I personally think this should be cooked at least 1 hour before it is needed to allow the ingredients to combine. When you are ready to eat it, then you can heat it through gently then garnish with coriander and serve with rice.

Courtesy of Chili Paper Chains

We love curry

Curry News

Poor old Dave. Not only does he have to wait a year for a curry, now every blog fan in Greenwich knows he wears a checked shirt (see Classic Photo No 2). This is thanks to mentions and links from the iconic blogger, the Greenwich Phantom (thegreenwichphantom.co.uk), the Cobra curry lovers’ Facebook group (facebook.com/welovecurry?ref=mf) and the fun Plummy Mummy (plummymummy.blogspot.com). Thanks guys… Now isn’t it time you came and joined us for a curry? And Plummy Mummy, any chance of a recipe for spicy spinach we can run on this blog?

Meeting (March 2010)

Uncategorized

This month’s chief organiser Antoine, our French curry lover, declares Monday 15 March as the date of the next meeting. Venue: Mountain View, Blackheath (1-3 Lee Road, SE3 9RQ) at 8pm. Pre-drinks in the Railway (16 Blackheath Village SE3 9LE) from 6.30pm. New curry lovers welcome. We don’t bite (except the lamb).

Classic photo (No 2)

Uncategorized

This is the face of a man who has been waiting for a curry for 12 months. Chinese, Italian, Turkish, Swiss (roll), he’s had the lot in the last year, but this is the first proper meal this man has had in a year. What did he have? Biryani. Very good it was too apparently.

Blondes have more pizza

1. Reviews (London)

February 2010

The Mogul, Greenwich

Well, rock my soul. Drum roll please… Is this girls I see at the GCC monthly meeting? Does it mean a table full of butter chicken? Then I shall hit back with an equally male curry cliche and order a vindaloo. But hang on, butter chicken is the traditional Murgh Makhani version and the good old Vindy is not on the menu at the Moghul (we have returned by popular demand). The Mogul’s menu is what is called ‘authentic’, whatever that means.

What it means is that we all require pronunciation lessons from the (very friendly) waiter in the black-and-white-striped shirt. And another drum roll please… well done Mr Striped Shirt, it’s not often someone takes an order for about 25 dishes and remembers exactly who ordered what (even when those sitting around the table had forgotten when the food trolley rumbled around the corner).

What he didn’t bank on was Mary turning her Chicken Bhoona (ordered off menu so presumably vindaloo would be rustled up too if you asked) into a pizza with a paratha base. Blondes certainly having more fun.

Despite a brave effort from Val to make sure we didn’t order enough for 70 people instead of the seven who made it, the table buckled under the weight of dishes. Top four dishes were 1. Imli Machli (£8.90) which for those without their ‘authentic’ Indian dictionary is red snapper cooked with coriander, black pepper, tamarind and onions, Acharia Gosht (£8.75), roast lamb cooked in zesty pickles and the starters Paneer Saslick (£3.50), pictured above, and Hajari Murgh (£3.70), although the latter was swiftly renamed ‘the first thing on the menu’ by Dave.

Pronunciation problems, who needs them eh, Dave?

• Mogul, 10 Greenwich Church Street, SE10 9BJ. Tel: 020 8858-6790. Open: Mon-Fri 12.00-14.30, 18.00-23.30, Sat-Sun 12.00-23.30.

Mogul snapshot

Food ① ② ③ ④

Decor ① ② ③ ④ ⑤

Value ① ② ③

Atmosphere (Tuesday night) ① ② ③

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