Rub a zub zub

Zub Express, Flic en Flac, Mauritus (Takeaway)

Granted, poor old Zub Express had a tough ask when I ordered the Chicken Kolapuri (Rps190) because the best curry I have ever had was when I ordered the same dish in India. But while this kolapuri wasn’t quite up to those dizzy heights, the chef gave it a great go. There was that tasty, creamy, yet spicy sauce, with large chunks of well-marinated chicken and slices of onion that had been added late (ala many Chinese dishes) to provide a nice crunch. The restaurant advertises itself as a fusion of Indian and Chinese so maybe this was their fusion.

Although there are many Chinese dishes on the menu this place exudes ‘curry house’. Nicely decorated inside, it sits alone, away from the buzz of the other bars and restaurants in this resort, but en route to the main tourist hotels. Many diners choose to sit outside at one of the tables and look out across the beach, a naan’s throw away.

The kolapuri was served with some of the best, and freshest rotis (Rps30 each) I have ever had – fluffy yet firm, and perfect to scoop up this tasty dish. It’s a no brainer that I will soon be eating, not throwing, the naans (from Rps35) and trying the Aloo Ka Pharata (Rps40) soon.

As well as a good selection of the classic curry dishes, and, of course, this being Mauritius, a range of briyanis, there are also special seafood dishes to tempt, including King Prawn and Coconut (Rps750) and a Lobster Butter Massala (Rps950), which I’d imagine get more than a few tourist takers.

Strangely there is an extra charge for takeaways (Rps10.50 for each item). When I first commented that this was unusual, I was met with the service classic, “I don’t know why, I just work here.” I’m told by another takeaway regular to Zub that it’s to pay for the takeaway pots. Look after the pots and the pounds will look after themselves my old grandad used to say.

Parking: car park by the beach opposite.

Specials (or should that be non-specials): each takeaway item is charged Rps10.50 extra, so it’s cheaper to eat in than take food away.

Beer while you’re waiting: no alcohol is served at the restaurant and there are no bars nearby. Your only option would be a bottle while sitting on the fence by the beach.

Zub Express, 286 Coastal Road, Flic en Flac, Mauritius. Tel: +230 453 8867/68. Hotline: 5777 6655 or 5757 9355 or 5860. E-mail: zubexpress06@gmail.com. Web: www.zub-express.com. Open: Friday–Wednesday 10am–9.30pm, Thursday 5pm–10pm.

The exchange rate at the time of visit was £1 = Rps50 and $1 = Rps35.

The scores on the tandoors

Food 7.5

Waiting area 6 (no dedicated area so you must stand at the service bar or grab one of the outside tables if there is one free).

Service and friendliness 8

Value 8

Would you Adam and Eve it

Adam’s Curries, Baku, Azerbaijan
(Review by Neil Beard, Greenwich resident and International Curry Correspondent).

Adam curries pic

After spending two long, hot and busy months in Azerbaijan and at the request of Curry Bard Dan, I finally managed to get around to visiting Adam’s Curries in Baku for the first time, just four days before I return to the Royal Borough, warm beer and the rain.

My three dining colleagues for the evening were, along with myself, working on the 1st European Games. However, I imagine that their roles in catering services would, perhaps, make them slightly more critical of any dining out experience, especially as one of them is the former head chef at Asia Da Cuba St. Martins Lane, London. Adam’s was my recommendation so the pressure was on!

We hit Adam’s (which also doubles as a Thai on some nights) at eight, after beers at the Clansman pub. It was relatively busy and the aroma of spices was prominent on the street before we entered. Our reserved table was already occupied but the kind gentleman was politely asked to move to make way for four hungry men on a curry mission. Strategically placed next to the buffet, we couldn’t wait to get started.

The buffet was already pre-selected in everyone’s mind before we arrived but seeing the excellent choices, and our lack of a decent spicy meal for months, the decision was quickly re-affirmed. The Saturday evening buffet is 15 AZN per person (approx £8) with the local Xirdelan beer at 4 AZN (approx £2).

We tucked into delicious Chicken Tikka pieces, not just coloured chicken but really tender, and tasting like it had been baked in a traditional tandoor. Freshly cooked naan bread with mint raita, yogurt, and just for good measure a chili spice dip, were all available. Delicious.

There was no bhajis on offer but a selection of other starters including samosas and pakoras were available but as with all buffet food timing is everything. We quickly turned to the main event

The main courses included, among others, a Beef Madras, Chick Pea Curry and a Chicken Jalfrezi.

Each curry was individual, clearly all home made using fresh spices, which was a real surprise to us all and we commented on the authentic taste of each dish in turn. Fluffy basmati rice (a genuine art) complemented each mouthful, and quietness descended upon the table – always the best indication of a quality meal. Seconds, and even thirds, were consumed

I wish I had visited Adam’s before so I could have tried other dishes on the menu, in particular the Goan Fish Curry, which I’m sure would have been amazing as a specialty dish

Our hosts, curry meisters Narayan Pawar and his team, were incredibly friendly and polite. Adam’s is clearly a favourite among the ex-pats and oil-working community and long may it continue.

Adam’s Curries, 12 Tarlan Aliyarbeyov Street, Baku, Azerbaijan. Tel: +99455-348-1857. E-mail: adamscurries@gmail.com. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adams-Curries/123673817720175?sk=info&tab=page_info

 

Starters orders

Bhaji, London E14 (Takeaway)

Established in 1997, this friendly Isle of Dogs takeaway serves up decent takeaway food from a great menu. Bhaji‘s Chicken Benjal (£4.95) caught my eye straight away. Jalfrezi lovers would enjoy this dish of tomatoes, green peppers, onions and chillies, although a bit more oomph in the heat level would have been welcomed.

The Mushroom rice (£2.25) was generous with its spices and mushrooms, but best of all was very tasty. The Uri Bhaji (£2.65) was slightly soft by the time we’d got it home, but with light spicing and chopped onions, these green beans make an interesting alternative to the usual veg side dishes. All veg dishes can be bumped up to main portions for a pound extra.

Elsewhere there are some very decent offerings on the menu. It’s not difficult to see why this place has been around for 18 years. There is a healthy options sections (such as Salmon Shashlik for £8.95), some Salads and Dips from £2.50, and, unusually for a takeaway, a decent selection of desserts.

There are also some set meals – and not the usual line up most places offer. For instance, the Staff’s Favourite for One includes Dallier Bora, Naga Chicken, Tarka Dal, Rice, Roti, Rice and Mint Sauce (£10.95).

Then there are Indian Style Noodles (from £4.95), a range of Sag Baltis and Naga Baltis (from £5.95) and Shatkora Doner Kebabs (the mind boggles) as well as the usual curry favourites from £4.45.

There will be return visits. I might even have a lassi (yes, they do these as well).

 

Takeaway essentials
Parking:
on-street parking.
Delivery: free within three miles for minimum orders over £10.
Specials: 10% discount on orders over £12 collected. Free bottle of Coke or side dish with orders over £18.
Beer while you’re waiting: The Ship pub is just over the road.

Bhaji, 6 Chapel House Street, London, E14 3AS. Tel: 020 7531 6166/7. Open: Mon–Sat 5.30pm–11.30pm.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 7

Waiting area  8.5

Value 7

Service and friendliness 9

Menu expressions

Manjal, London E14

photo

This classy Isle of Dogs gem has always impressed me with its freshness (see Fast but certainly fresh) – now it boasts a fresh menu as well as fresh food. And what a menu it is.

Dishes are split into sections on the new line-up: as well as dosas, rice and breads, there are veg starters, autograph veg starters, non-veg starters, autograph non-veg starters, with the same format  used for mains. I almost felt sorry for the lovely sounding dishes that failed to be elevated to the autograph status! But there was no need. The Potato Tikka Chat (£5.95) was one such dish and it was delicious. The potato patties were lightly fried and topped with channa dal and carrying an unexpected kick with its spicing.

This was just one of the dishes that will interest vegetarians. Broccoli Varulal (£5.95), delivers the trademark freshness, as I know from previous visits, while the great named Gobi ’65 (£5.95) – an Indo-Chinese offering of deep-fried cauliflower florets – is certain to get a testing in the future. It’s also nice to see dal dishes treated with deserved respect by the menu creator as too often diners see it just as something to moisten up their rice, if they eat it at all. Here there is a choice of Dal Tadka (£5.95), the wonderfully creamy Dal Makhani (£6.95), a popular dal-lovers dish that is cooked with different types of lentils, and Dal Manjal (£6.95), a coconut curry from South India.

But this dockside venue, which had a smart after-work business buzz to it on this visit, has superb choices for those of us who enjoy non-veg dishes as well.

The Mutton Kothu Roti (£9.95) has to be tried. This dry dish of Sri Lankan origin is a mix of meat (there are also chicken and veg versions), onions, leeks, spices and pieces of shredded bread – think of it as a sort of bread biryani. It’s really unusual – each mouthful delivers a spicy mix with tasty chunks of mutton and the odd chewy piece of roti thrown in for good measure. It’s always extremely filling – I could only manage one tier of this nicely presented two-tiered dish. It comes with a side of spicy sauce.

The kottu was, of course, one of the autograph non-veg curries. And it had some serious competition when it came to me choosing my main because others on the menu were the Chettinad Manjal Special Chicken Curry (£8.95), the Manjal Special Fish Curry (£10.95) and the got-to-be-tried-next-visit Manjal Special Lamb Curry (£9.95). Another creation from South India, this is a dish where lamb, liver and bones are all cooked together in a thick masala sauce.

I’m always on the look out for new dishes to try and this menu certainly offers scope for plenty of return visits for that. Having tried the Devil Chicken starter (£9.95), another of the Indo-Chinese offerings with a wow spice kick, as well the dishes mentioned above, I know they are more than worth a try.

Manjal, 3 Turnberry Quay, Pepper Street, London, E14 9RD. Tel: 020 7538 1140. E-mail: info@manjalrestaurant.com. Open: daily, noon–11pm.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 9

Decor 9

Atmosphere 8 (Thursday night)

Service and friendliness 9

Value 9

* The Greenwich Curry Club was hosted by Manjal restaurant.

Manjal on Urbanspoon

Fresh versus tinned

Spicy Village, Torreblanca, Spain
Ganga, Torreblanca, Spain

Just when I was about to decry that all Indian restaurants in Spain seem to churn out pretty poor, generic curries after eating at Spicy Village, along comes a saviour in the form of Ganga.

The two curry houses are both relatively new and are vying for business in the resort of Torreblanca along the Costa del Sol. But it’s pretty obvious which one will come out on top.

Spicy Village has a great location facing the sea and although it is housed in a pretty uninspiring brick-faced building, the covered outside area has been nicely decorated with large photos of spices and impressive buildings from the Sub-continent.

The food is a let down though. The Chicken Dopiaza (€7.50) was ok-ish, with a decent amount of onions giving the sauce a sweetish taste. But it just felt so generic, like a standard sauce that would go with almost anything. Now, as most of us know, restaurants use the same base sauce for most tomato based curries, but there was a feeling here that not a lot else had been added to the base to make the Dopiaza any different any of the other curries on the menus. The way the Garlic Nan (€2.50) had been made reinforced the disappointment – this was just a standard nan with a few chunks of garlic pressed into the top. Where was the great infusion of taste these breads usually deliver?

But it was the Vegetable Madras (€7.95) where things really fell apart. Here was a bowl of base sauce and can of tinned vegetables, with those perfectly chopped cubes of carrots and all. Not acceptable, especially when Spain boasts such tasty and cheap vegetables.

Spicy Village, Paseo Maritimo Torreblanca No 110, Edif Nautico Local, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 951 50 52 77 or +34 647 12 83 65. Open: daily 1pm–midnight.

Scores on the Tandoors

Food 5.5

Décor 6

Service and friendliness 6

Atmosphere (Saturday night) 8

Value 6

…………………………………………………………..

But there was complete turnaround on the visit to the spacious Ganga. The waiter looked almost bemused when asked if the chef used fresh vegetables. Of course, of course. The chef/owner, I was told, worked and even trained others in New Delhi’s famous Taj Hotel. He certainly knows how to cook, that’s for sure.

The fresh veg feast included a generous portion of Palak Paneer (€5.50) and a delicious Paneer Jalfrezi (€6.95), and although it might be a bit saucy for some Jalfrezi purists, it had plenty of fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers in a smooth base that verged on the creamy but delivered a nice kick. Made on site, the paneer is soft with a slight bite to it, but it has none of the rubberiness you can get from some pre-bought cheese. It’s among the best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. And fresh was the order of the day with the Aloo Gobi (€5) with nice chunks of perfectly cooked potato (amazing how many places can get this wrong) and florets of cauliflower coated in a dryish sauce.

Paneer Jalfrezi (left) and Aloo Gobi, with a tomato and onion salad and a nan bread (Ganga)
Paneer Jalfrezi (left) and Aloo Gobi, with a Tomato and Onion Salad and a nan bread (Ganga)

And just to show it’s not only veg that is cooked so well, the Chicken Tikka Masala (€8) was spot on. You know the chef’s got this classic right when you end up scraping the dish at the end of the meal even though you are full to the brim already.

The table was finished off with a large serving of Pilau rice (€2.75), a Cheese, Onion and Chilli Nan (€3.50) and my new favourite accompaniment, an Onion and Tomato Salad (€2). I find the freshness of the salad cuts through the spiciness of the curries beautifully, acting like a mid-meal and setting me up for the next dish. And you’ll want plenty more dishes at Ganga, that’s for sure.

Ganga, Plaza de Torreblana, 7 (Av Torreblanca), Torreblanca 29640, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 952 661 749 or +34 652 240 902. Open: 6pm–midnight (later in season).

Scores on the Tandoors

Food 9

Décor 9

Service and friendliness 8.5

Atmosphere (early Sunday night) 6

Value 9

Curry base-ics

The Greenwich Curry Club always like to check out new curry venues so we were delighted to be the very first customer at Balti Base, the name chosen by the new owners of the takeaway at 106 Blackheath Road. Previously Curry to Go, and before that Medina, they have some tough competition with Le Popadom, Indelicious, Green Chillies and Chutney all close.

But the young owners have a spark that makes me believe they could thrive. A smiley, friendly service (I was number one customer after all…) goes a long way, but you’re going to love the prices even more. Old-school curries like Bhuna, Rogan and so on come in at £3.75 for chicken and 50p more for lamb, while you can sample specials like Chicken Honey Khany (nuts and sultana in a sweet yoghurt sauce) for £5.25 or the King Prawn Special with mushrooms for £6.25.

Parking: on the side streets off Blackheath Road.

Delivery: free on orders over £12 although the menu doesn’t specify which areas this covers.

Specials: free Bombay Potato on orders over £15 that are collected.

Beer while you’re waiting: the Graduate is over the road.

Balti Base, 106 Blackheath Road, London, SE10 8DA. Tel: 020 8692 2423. Open: daily 5.30pm–11pm.

 

The scores on the tandoors

Food 7

Waiting area 6

Value 8

Going south

Kerala Village, another new Greenwich curry venture can be found at 119 Trafalgar Road. Offering South Indian, Sri Lankan and North Indian dishes, all the usual dishes are there if you want them. But there are many unusual dishes, including four egg curries and an extensive range of seafood offerings such as Mussels Fry, Squid Fry, and the intriguing Fish Molly. And vegetable fans have a range that is second to none with dishes incorporating beetroot, cabbage, aubergine as well as the more usual paneer, chick peas and dal.