Cinnamon Soho – Sunday Lunch

Cinnamon Soho is the latest restaurant from chef Vivek Singh, the man behind the much-loved one star Michelin restaurant Cinnamon Club and its sister Cinnamon Kitchen. In contrast to the chic elegance of Cinnamon Club which caters more to politician types from its location in The Great Westminster Library, Cinnamon Soho exudes a more urban feel to it from its home in the trendy Carnaby Street area.

Cinnamon Soho has a good value Sunday brunch/lunch menu where £25 will get you a three-course menu with a side dish. The evening a la carte prices also seemed reasonable with starters at about the £6 mark and mains ranging in price from £11 to £17.

We kicked of our lunch nicely with a sweet lassi smoothie (£4) which was wonderful – icy cold, creamy and not too sweet, this was one of the nicest lassis I have ever tried.

Stir-fried shrimp with curry leaf and black pepper was exceptional with the prawns being well cooked, firm and juicy. The spices used included cardamom, fennel, turmeric and cumin, and the way in which they had been combined was incredibly well done to not only give the dish heat but also elegance.

Stir fried shrimp

Stir fried shrimp

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La Portes Indes

La Portes Indes is an Indian restaurant with a difference. Opened in 1996, the food contains a Gallic twist and is inspired by the dishes of Pondicherry, an area in India that was formerly a French colony. Being a Franco-Indian restaurant it is possible to find dishes such as cassoulet de fruits de mer on the menu.

The restaurant occupies an incredibly grand space. Set over two floors, La Portes Indes has a look of the exotic to it, with a 40ft Mogul waterfall, a marble staircase and antique Indian artifacts.

The menu is plentiful with options. We started with a tandoori seared foie gras (£13.00) which was rich and unctuous. It was pleasantly sweetened by a fig and ginger chutney that matched the foie gras well.

Foie gras

Foie gras

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Tamarind

Tamarind made waves in 2001 when it became one of a hand full of Indian restaurants in London to win a Michelin star. Executive chef Alfred Prasad ran a number of restaurants in five-star hotels in Southern India before coming to the UK in 2000. The food at Tamarind draws its influences from North-Western and Southern India and offers a modern interpretation of Moghul cuisine, the ancient courtly food of Rajasthan that centres round Tandoor ovens.

I dined at Tamarind at the invitation of the restaurant along with a number of other guests. The prices listed below are for the à la carte portions. We started with pudhina chops, ginger, turmeric and mint coated lamb cutlets served on a chilli-yoghurt dip (£10.25). This was accompanied by aloo tikki, sago crusted potato cakes on a bed of spinach and topped with tamarind chutney (£6.95). The lamb was tender and the potato cakes yielded a lovely texture, although the tamarind chutney was a touch too sweet against the potato.

Lamb cutlet & potato cake

Lamb cutlet & potato cake

A side dish of papdi chaat, spiced chickpeas, whole-wheat crisps and sweetened yoghurt topped with blueberries and tamarind chutney (£7.50) was lovely with its creamy and chilling nature.

Papdi chaat

Papdi chaat

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Chor Bizarre

According to the Chor Bizarre website, every city in India has its own special “Chor Bazaar” which translates as “Thieves Market”. Apparently, all kinds of wares can be found at these markets, from furniture to fabrics, pearls to periodicals, carpets to cutlery, with some of these making their way to the market without the knowledge of their owners.

This sense of eclecticism thus forms the backdrop of the décor at Chor Bizarre, so named as a play on the words Chor Bazaar. There is an eclectic mix of items “where nothing matches but everything goes” at the restaurant, and the idea is based on a sense of “finery, frivolity and joie-de-vivre”.

The original Chor Bizarre opened in Dehli in 1990 and the London sibling opened in Mayfair in 1997. The menu is fun to read and includes a number of ‘playful starters’, ‘street’ snacks (chaat), tak-a-lak curries, tandooris and other dishes.

My wonderful sister (check out her blog Food Porn Nation) and I dined as a guest of Chor Bizarre. Purani dilli ki papri chaat (£6), a dish of crispy semolina and wheat biscuits, yoghurt, tamarind chutney, ginger and hot spices was delectable. The biscuits provided a crunchy texture to the lovely mixture of sweet chutney, cooling yoghurt and yummy spices. This was a lovely dish.

Purani dilli ki papri chaat

Purani dilli ki papri chaat

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Chutney Mary – Visit # 2

Chutney Mary is an up marketing Indian restaurant in Chelsea which focuses on Indian cooking from six different regions. The last time I went to Chutney Mary I tried the tasting menu for £45 which I enjoyed (to read that post click here). The service was polished and all around the food was very enjoyable although I had wanted a bit more spicing and a little more veg.

But the food was good enough to go warrant a another try and this time around I again went for the tasting menu (still priced at £45). A generous piece of nizami tandoori prawn chargrilled in roasted seasame, fresh dill and a Kerala white pepper marinade was resplendent with flavour. It had been cooked beautifully, and was moist, plump and juicy. The delicate hints of chilli thrown into the mix had been expertly judged. It was served with a wonderful blueberry chutney made with curry leaf, mustard and garam marsala which gave way to a zingy mix of complex flavours and spices.

Nizami tandoori prawn

Nizami tandoori prawn

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Indian Cookbook Launch at Moti Mahal

Indian Cookbook

Indian Cookbook

Last week I was invited to Moti Mahal, an Indian restaurant in Covent Garden, for an Indian cookery masterclass followed by dinner. The occasion was to mark the publication of a new Indian cookbook, aptly named ‘India Cookbook’. Published by Phaidon Press, the book is authored by food writer Pushpesh Pant following twenty years of research across the gastronomic regions of India.

The book is divided into various chapters covering Spices, Mixtures and Pastes; Pickles, Chutneys and Raitas; Snacks and Appetisers, Main Dishes; Breads; Desserts and Drinks. There is also a Guest Chef section containing signature dish contributions from a number of well regarded Indian chefs from around the world. London chefs include Anirudh Arora from Moti Mahal (host of our dinner), Alfred Prasa from Michelin starred Tamarind, and Vivek Singh from Cinnamon Club.

The book contains 1,000 recipes and is beautiful to look at. Traditional Indian rice bags provided the inspiration for the book cover, and the photographs showcase a range of delicious looking dishes in technicolour.

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Chutney Mary

Chutney Mary

Chutney Mary

Like restaurants such as Benares, Amaya and Rasoi, Chutney Mary falls into the category of Indian fine dining. It doesn’t possess a Michelin star, but it does have a New King’s Road location, fine cutlery service, a luxurious decor and prices that are ‘higher than-your-local-Indian’ to make it worthy of a fine dining classification.

We settled on the 6 course tasting menu which is priced at £45. First up was a scallop caldeen. A fat, succulent piece of Atlantic scallop, it had been cooked to a beautiful doneness that left it with an opaque sheen. The accompanying caldeen sauce had a lovely cumin and coriander kick to it, and it worked with the tomato and ginger salsa that dressed the top of the scallop. This was a masterful display in spicing and flavour matching. This starter was served with some lovely, fluffy naan bread.

Scallop caldeen

Scallop caldeen

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Trishna Restaurant

I am convinced that eating bad food is what makes one fat. My logic goes something like this: when you eat bad food, you are left feeling unsatisfied. So if you’re anything like me, you will want to eat something good, something a little comforting to make you feel better. This is why eating bad food is what makes you fat, because you just end up eating more. Take a look at the French for example. Despite all the wonderful trappings of lots of good food, they are generally not very hefty.

So, as I sit here about to write about my dining experience at Trishna Restaurant, I find myself tucking into a newly opened tub of ice-cream (Green & Black’s organic vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce). I feel in need of some comfort food and I am going to assume that my present disposition is enough to tell you that I found Trishna particularly unsatisfying.

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