Thursday, 23 July 2009

Currying local favour

Everyone needs a good local curry house. I am fortunate enough to live within spitting distance of mine. I can almost even see into its kitchen from my bay window! My local curry house is called Chameli's Tiffin Runner (website coming soon!) and is on Chetwynd Road in Dartmouth Park, North London. On moving into the 'hood in February this year my new neighbours strongly urged me to try out Chameli's and its 'out of this world flavours'.

It took a few take away-nights before I could pluck up the courage to break my loyalty to Monsoon, also located within spitting distance in Dartmouth Park. Don't worry Monsoon, I still love you, but...

...but Chameli's Tiffin Runner is just exceptional. The flavours are amazing. I haven't tasted such well-spiced Indian cuisine in north London, ever. The chef uses fennel seeds in quite a few dishes, which imparts the dishes with a subtle liquorice taste. This was particularly exciting in their mango chutney. The menu features a lot of dishes that you don't see in most local Indian take-away menus, and you might not quite recognise dishes whose names you do know, but trust me, it's all good.

The korma sauce features exotic saffron and home made yoghurt, smoother and more luxurious than you're standard. Too often the meat in an Indian take-away comes in inexplicable chewy chunks, but at Tiffin Runner the meat is succulent and tastes well seasoned through effective marinading. The Tiffin Runner Special Chicken is particularly exquisite - the chicken comes in a rich, deeply spiced gravy with wine.

Chameli's is in the process of re-branding and will soon be called 'Tiffin Runner' (it was originally called Chameli) and the menu has expanded and is now printed on glossy paper rather than black and white A4. But there's definitely no drop in quality - I just hope that the good folk of north London will get to find out about this hidden gem and enjoy this amazing Indian food.

Until the end of August Tiffin Runner are doing a 'credit crunch special' of 2 poppadom, 2 mains, 2 sides, 1 rice and 1 nan for £16.50. It easily feeds three hungry hippos and it's a great way of trying some of the new dishes on the menu. We did it last week (see picture above) and it was divine.

To place an order or for more information, call Chameli's on 0800 917 4363.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Ottolenghi love

A large part of the time I spend thinking about food is spent thinking about Ottolenghi food. For those of you who don't know, Ottolenghi is a small collection of restaurant/delis in London. Their food is albout amazing fresh flavours, ingenious combinations, using plenty of great quality ingredients, copius scatterings of fresh herbs. They published a cookbook, which has since become a bible for me and my friends.

I try and cook at least one Ottolenghi recipe a week, whether it's from the book or Ottolenghi's weekly column 'the new vegetarian' in the Guardian's Saturday magazine. Last night I cooked roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey. It was amazing burst flavours and smells from the souk, gently exotic and luxurious with its saffron, rosewater, cinammon, honey, lemon and ginger. The roasted hazelnuts gave the dish a velvety earthiness, and combined with the honey, cinammon and rosewater, it was like a semi-savoury baklava.

A quick google revealed that Gourmet Worrier had cooked it fairly recently and adapted the recipe a bigger meal, so I shall re-driect you there for the recipe. I used thighs rather than drumsticks though. I do love the thighs!

My partner is also mad keen on Ottolenghi and cooked last week's new vegetarian recipe, beetroot, yogurt and preserved lemon relish. I am absolutely wild about beetroot, especially when combined with plentiful heaps of fresh dill and creme fraiche or yoghurt. With the addition of preserved lemons (or in my case lots of lemon rind, not ever being able to find them in my local middle eastern shops and being too lazy thus far to preserve lemons myself) this was the zingiest, freshest meal I've had in a while. Here's a photo:

That's enough Ottolenghi for now. Don't worry, though, plenty more to come!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Another food blog

I absolutely love food. I live to eat.

Food is on my mind pretty much all the time. You'll often find me envisaging the remnants of my larder and fridge and daydreaming possible recipes. Or you'd see me drooling over the restaurant recommendations in guidebooks as I plan my next trip away. Or I'll be gushing with friends, family or colleagues about the meal I made last night, the olive oil I bought from the Portuguese deli, the pictures and recipes in the Observer Food Monthly. Yes, I do truly and absolutely love food!

I intend for this blog to be a celebration of food - food I cook, restaurants I visit, cuisines I 'discover', culinary adventures, great shops, my favourite ingredients, implements, techniques.

This isn't going to be all about pretentious food and expensive restaurants. This is about my food odyssey - my everyday, passionate, inquisitive journey through cuisines, flavours and experiences. I hope you enjoy it.