Curry Guide… Goan Cuisine

 

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The food in Goa is quite distinctive from the rest of the India, despite it being one of the smallest states in the country and home to fewer than 1.5 million people. Its location along the western coast of the country, by the Arabian Sea, means seafood features prominently in its cuisine and because its population is largely Christian (Catholic), thanks to just over 450 years of Portuguese occupation, beef and pork are also common, unlike in the rest of India. Chillies are also important in Goan cuisine having been introduced to to the country by the Portuguese in 1498. Curries without chillies, who’d have thought? The Indians used peppers for heat before that.

The most famous Goan dish is Vindaloo, which is a favourite of all heat lovers. Vin means vinegar, thanks to the southern Europeans and the aloo bit is for the amount of garlic in it (the aloo bit is commonly confused as meaning potato because “aloo” means “potato” in Hindi and chunks of the good old spud is in the dish. The traditional dish, cooked with loads of vinegar and pork, is nothing like the curry house dish you’ll get in Britain, although it does share the heat levels.

Other well-known Goan dishes are Xacuti, a dish of chicken or prawns with chilli, white poppy seeds and coconut, and Cafrael, a Portuguese-Indian combination dish which uses a lot of coriander and lime juice and has its roots in Africa.

Photo: Zerohund Wikipedia.

Recipe… Chicken Chilli Dry Fry

Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Low Res

Chicken Chicken Dry Fry
Serves 2-3 as a starter

This is an Indo-Chinese stir-fry dish, combining flavours from both cuisines. It is a very hot, dry dish and should be always be served fresh.

 

What you need
• 2 Tbls cornflour
• 6 tsp soy sauce
• 150gm chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
• 3 Tbls oil
• 1 small onion, roughly chopped
• 1/2 green pepper
• 1-3 green chillies (to your taste), chopped
• 1 tsp ground black pepper
• 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
• 1 tomato roughly, chopped
• 2 spring onions chopped
• a small handful of coriander, chopped

How you cook it
1. Mix the cornflour with 4 tsp of soy sauce and coat the chicken in the mixture. Marinate for 15 minutes.

Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Step 1
Step 1a: Mix cornflour with soy sauce.
Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Step 2
Step 1b: Marinate chicken

2. Heat oil to a medium-hot heat.
3. Fry the chicken until all the pieces are sealed (about 2-3 minutes), then set aside.

Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Step 3 Low Res
Step 3: Seal the chicken pieces

 

4. Add the green peppers to the pan and stir-fry until they start to soften (about 3-4 minutes).
5. Add the onions, chillies, pepper and chilli flakes and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add a tiny bit of water if needed but not too much as this is a dry dish.

Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Step 4 Low Res
Step 4 and 5: Fry the peppers, onions and chillies

6. Add the other 2 tsps of soya sauce and mix in well.
7. Add in the tomatoes and chicken and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked.

Chicken Chilli Dry Fry Step 5 Low Res
Step 6 and 7: Add the remaining ingredients and return the chicken to pan until cooked through.

8. Garnish with spring onion and coriander and serve (this dish is best served fresh).


 

The Spice Card offers savings on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. You can get your Spice Card here.

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The most popular hot curries

In a recent survey we asked: “How hot can you go with your curries?”

The Goan classic, Vindaloo was a narrow winner with our spice heads, just pipping that perennial favourite Madras, which was preferred by 29% of curry fans. The super hot Phall polled 19% among the serious heat lovers, while another 19% said they couldn’t eat anything that hot. Korma or Chicken Tikka Masala it is for them then.

Spice Card holders can enjoy a 20% discount on curries, including on takeaways at many venues. Get your Spice Card here…

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The Riz (Margate, Kent)

The Riz, Margate

If you love a good old British-style seaside resort and you love a good curry may I direct you to the Riz in Margate?

The smartly dressed owner directed proceedings and gave us all the information we were after when it came to what was and what wasn’t in certain dishes. It’s always good to gauge different dishes and if the owner or staff are happy to help out then they’ve found the right man for a chat.

The decor is as smart as the owner. This is a real little gem, albeit not in the smartest of streets. And it looks like the locals know it too as there was a gaggle of girls getting stuck into and a couple of families enjoying the food.

My previous experience of trying to get a curry in this street had not gone well (yawn! Is it ever coming?) but my Margate friend assured us that this was the place to try. He was right.

The Riz serves superb dishes and they are as fresh as they come. This is the place to dip into South Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. So where to start? How about Nethli Meen Varuval (£4.50), spiced anchovies which are then deep fried. A pretty lively taste of Kerala I’d say. Or Fish Cutlet (£2.50), Sri Lankan traditional fish dumplings, crumb fried and served with hot spicy sauce perhaps?

House specials are parathas, iddapams and puttus, which all use eggs. A chicken paratha, scrambled with eggs and cooked with minced parathas is £6.95. But it’s got to be fish for me so the recommendation is Monkfish Curry with Mango (£8), a Keralan dish made with mango, coconut milk and ginger.

The Riz, 49 Northdown Road, Margate. Tel: 01843 293698.

Scores on the tandoors
Food 9
Decor 8
Service and friendliness 8
Atmosphere 7 (Tuesday evening)
Value for money 8

Lightly spiced

Lee Raj, Blackpool

There are so many food options in Blackpool town centre and along the Golden Mile that when a local recommends somewhere beyond the lights it’s worth taking note.

Lee Raj is only just beyond the lights in fact, only a short walk from Starrs Gate, the last tram stop on the south shore. It’s quite disconcerting leaving the flashing lights behind after a couple of days, like you’re heading into no-man’s land, but it’s a welcome relief too, to get back to some sort of normality.

This is a neighbourhood restaurant serving locals very good food. It’s under new management  and the service is efficient and very friendly. It’s got a long and comprehensive list of choices, many of which were new to me so the waiter received more than the usual amount of queries about how dishes are cooked and their origins. It’s Bangladeshi run so there are some nice specialities from there, such as Biran Mas (£8.50) a dish of lightly spiced fish, but there is food from many regions, including Sri Lanka, which is forgotten on many menus.

Shatkora is a citrus fruit that is used in Bangladeshi cooking. If you like lime pickle you’ll like this, although it has a sharper and cleaner bite on the tongue than the pickle tray favourite.  Shathkora Torkar (chicken at £7.40) it was then. Fantastically sharp, the chef  used nice big chunks in the dish. Other times I’ve tried this dish chefs seemed a bit afraid of the fruit and its taste was hard to discern. I was delighted that this chef pushed the use of the fruit to the limit. If you order something you want to taste it, not go searching about in the sauce.

Because of the distinctive taste of shathkora I went for plain pilau rice (£2.30) to avoid a taste clash, but a couple of chapatis (£1.30 each) or a plain nan (£2.30) would work equally as well.

Lee Raj, 23 Squires gate, Blackpool, FY4 1SN. Tel: 01253 401800/406300

Scores on the tandoors

Food 9

Decor 8

Service and friendliness 9

Atmosphere 7 (Friday evening)

Value 8

It takes all sauce

Ribble Tandoori, Clitheroe, Lancashire
(Takeaway)

As one of only a handful of curry houses serving the market town of Clitheroe, as well as the large surrounding area of villages and farms, the Ribble Tandoori needs to be good. And as it is the nearest Indian to my friend’s cottage, requiring a good 40-minute round trip, I am delighted to report that it is, which is no surprise as it’s been operating since 1993. A post-pub curry in these parts need a certain amount of planning if you live in one of the Forest of Bowland villages, so disappointment isn’t really an option.

The sauces for both the South Indian Hot Garlic Keema (£5.45) and the Rogan Josh (£5.45) were thick and tasty, using finely chopped onions instead of the oft mulched-in-blender method for the base. This found an immediate fan, not least because I have adopted this approach in my own cooking in the last couple of years. Self-validation and all that. It does take a bit longer to soften up the onions but it draws out their sweetness better and the reward in the texture is well worth it, as anyone who has dished up a curry that makes them think of baby food will agree.

The garlic in South Indian Hot Garlic Keema was similarly noticeable and its taste prominent, as indeed it should be if you order a dish with garlic in its name. It was refreshing to see this dish on the menu, and indeed there were many others that don’t appear on too many others, including Lonka Garlic Masala, Lonka Piaja, Jai Puri, Zafranai, and Hathkora. I could have stayed for ages discussing the ways these dishes are created with the friendly guy serving and watching the chefs at work in the open kitchen, but alas it was necessary for me to go and find out the bit below for where to have a beer while you are waiting.

And the curries were indeed worth the wait. We added Lemon rice (£1,95) and a nan (£1.50).

Parking: on the Waddington Road or one of the nearby side streets.

Delivery: yes, but the menu doesn’t specify a distance or a minimum. Because it serves a rural area it will depend how far away you are ordering from.

Beer while you’re waiting: the Wagon and Horses is a two-minute walk up Pimlico Road and the Royal Oak, in Waterloo Road, is four minutes.

Ribble Tandoori Takeaway, 19 Waddington Road, Clitheroe, BB7 2HJ. Tel: 1200 443368. Open: daily 5pm-11.30pm. Sunday 4pm – 10.30pm.

The scores on the tandoors

Food 8

Waiting area: 5

Value 9

Service and friendliness 8

Spice panorama

 The Vista, Nairobi, Kenya

There are great views of the Kenyan capital from this seventh floor restaurant in the vibey area of Westlands. Large glass panels offer diners about 180 degree span of the city as they enjoy their curry.

As the Vista serves as the Hotel Emerald’s restaurant and bar there are different cuisines on the menu, but strictly speaking this is a curry restaurant and it welcomes a lot of locals and visitors who aren’t staying at the hotel.

Considering the chefs do have to cater for different tastes there is decent line up in the Indian section, with no less than 20 starters and 34 main dishes, not to mention naans and rice. Vegetarians are particularly well catered for, with a host of tasty sounding dishes, including the lively looking Dynamite Paneer Pops (Ksh600).

If in doubt keep it simple, so I opted for a Chicken Malai Kebab (Ksh800), a butter naan (Ksh100) and pickles. The chicken was tender and as the juice oozed out of delicately charing you you could taste the tandoor at work, while the coriander and crunchy salad provided the perfect fresh complement. Wrapped up in soft naan and topped off with some spicy pickle it makes for a great lunch.

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Chicken Malai Kebab with butter naan.

The Vista (at the Hotel Emerald), 7th Floor, Krishna Centre, Woodvale Grove, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 (0)716 228 302. Open: daily noon–3pm and 6pm–10.30pm.

The exchange rate at the time of the visit was £1 = Ksh153, $1 = Ksh100.

The scores on the tandoors

Food 8

Decor 6

Vibe 3 (Saturday lunchtime)

Service and friendliness 8

Value 9