Coriander is one of the most important spices in Indian cooking and is used as whole seeds (brown/cream colour), ground (brown) and fresh leaves (as pictured). The seeds give a slightly sweet flavour while the leaves are pungent and add a distinctive taste to many well-known curries. The leaves can be mixed into curries (the stems give the strongest flavour) or added to the top for garnish (or often both). To release the flavours and aromas of the coriander leaves it is best to bruise them gently with your fingers and tear them into pieces with your hands rather than chopping them up using a knife.
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.
Spices in the supermarket, spices in the corner shop, spices online. Is there anywhere you can’t find spice in the UK these days? Thankfully for spice lovers, probably not. But ever wondered where it all started. It was, of course the huge British East India Company, who traded with, then ran India for many years. Discover how we got all our spices and what the early traders thought at the National Maritime Museum’s Traders Gallery, which has only been open for a few weeks. The gallery is open daily from 10am-5pm and entry is free.