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Making Chapattis

Mattar paneer

Since doing an Indian cooking course and having a gander at the beautiful Prashad cook book, my home curry-making has definitely gone up a notch. In particular, Prashad’s mattar paneer is sure to become a weekday dinner staple: it’s so quick and easy yet authentic-tasting, uses storecupboard/freezer ingredients (did you know paneer freezes?!) and feels pretty healthy despite the main ingredient being um, fried cheese. Must be better than a takeaway at least. I like making more interesting rice dishes as an accompaniment too: the lemon, mustard seed and curry leaf rice we made on the course is perfect with a mild, creamy curry, and Prashad’s tumeric dal rice does great with the mattar paneer.

Chapatti
Chapatti

My absolute favourite thing to make however is chapattis, the little wholewheat puffed flatbreads that are so perfect at scooping up handfuls of curry to convey it to the mouth. I use the Fabulous Baker Brothers’ recipe and method, which involves the pretty fun task of toasting the chapattis over an open gas flame to get that wonderful airy texture and charred outside. I even videoed myself doing it, at immense personal risk – you’re welcome. Ignore my filthy hob please.

Finished with a dash of butter, they’re the perfect finishing touch to a homemade curry.

Chapatti

We Feast

We Feast

I think We Feast is one of the best street foody eat-ups I’ve been to in a while! It had all the great vibes of the food truck meetup we went to in San Francisco, with bonus Christmassy touches that made it feel lovely and festive.

We Feast
We Feast

Firstly, it was in a perfect venue – a wonderful semi-derelict old Victorian sorting office in Islington, decked out with cool huge globe lights and twinkly fairy lights.

We Feast
We Feast

Organisation-wise it was spot on, not too crowded or queue-heavy with plenty of seating and a big bar. I had a delicious lemongrass Dark and Stormy.

We Feast

Great live music added to the festive vibes.

We Feast

And of course the food, with stalls from all of London’s current best and brightest…

We Feast
We Feast

I started with Anna Mae’s mac & cheese, levelled up with jalapenos and sour cream…

We Feast

Then went for a delicious mushroom, walnut and miso Yum Bun

We Feast
We Feast

Sweet treats from Meringue Girls, almost to pretty to eat

We Feast

Pakoras from Delhi Grill

We Feast
We Feast
We FeastWe Feast
We Feast

And the rest… The only slight downside was that a fair proportion of the stalls didn’t have a veggie option so I didn’t get to sample Rainbo’s gzoyas, Tonkotsu’s ramen, Mishkin’s, or a Lucky Chip (veggie)burger. But I think I did pretty OK anyway.

We Feast

Looking forward to the next one already!

South Indian cooking at Food at 52

I bought Josh a South Indian cookery course day at Food at 52 for his birthday last month. It sounded so good that I bought myself a ticket too! South Indian food is one of my favourites – and it happens to be largely vegetarian – but I’ve never been able to master a good curry at home, so I was desperate to pick up some tips.

The class’s menu did include one prawn dish but was otherwise veggie and I recognised a few of the dishes from my favourite Keralan restaurant Rasa. The day class covers a mighty ten dishes, including chutney, snacks, sides and a mix of dry and saucy curries.

We began by splitting into two groups – the class is a snug 8 people – and preparing the spice blends for the various curries. This stage involved lots of measuring and frying off the base spices, which usually include some combination of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida (an orangey powder with a leek-type flavour), and curry leaves.

As a warm-up we made the prawn and paneer curry first, by simply adding coconut milk to the fried spices for a subtly-spiced, warming curry dish. We then got to work on the other dishes, which included a beetroot pachadi with grated coconut and a green bean thoran, a dry curry flavoured with cumin seeds, tamarind paste and chilli. We even prepped some vadai, a doughnut-shaped snack made with lentils and spinach.


After all our hard work we were led upstairs to relax with a glass of wine for a bit, while the table was prepared for us to try our dishes out. The space, situated on Central St about halfway between Old Street and Angel, has fun eclectic decor with the cosy, welcoming feel of someone’s home.



The final feast was a colourful spread and everyone agreed all the dishes were delicious. My favourites were the paneer curry and heavenly lemon rice, given substance by the addition of cashews, crunchy dal and tindori, an Indian vegetable a bit like a gherkin. In fact I’ve already re-made them both at home, for my parents no less, which went down extremely well.

The day classes at Food at 52 are quite pricey, but it was a brilliant fun day and we feel equipped with lots more skills and knowledge to carry on making curries at home. They also offer shorter, cheaper evening classes across cuisines including Vietnamese, Thai and Italian.

Dishoom, Shoreditch

Dishoom Shoreditch

After the joy of Brindisa, it’s marvellous to see another of my favourite London restaurants open up a little closer to home too. Dishoom‘s original site (blogged here) is a sweetly kitsch recreation of a Bombay cafe in Covent Garden. It’s nice to see that for the new site on Boundary Street, Shoreditch, they’ve sized up and gone for a more area-appropriate grunge-luxe decor. The huge two-floor warehouse space is filled with mahogany room dividers, textured vintage glass and industrial metal lighting details.

Dishoom Shoreditch

We popped in on a gloomy Friday night just after their soft launch period ended. Without a booking we had a 40-minute wait for a table, but this was no hardship thanks to a cosy bar area and delicious cocktails – my chaijito was a great spicy twist on a classic mojito. Josh enjoyed a bottle of the house IPA, brewed especially for the restaurant by local Beavertown Brewery.

Dishoom Shoreditch
Dishoom Shoreditch

The menu is mostly grill-heavy with several marinated meat choices, plus lots of nibbly starters and some sauce-based ‘ruby murrays’ too. We’d been perusing as we drank, so ordered as soon as we were seated. The food arrived impressively quickly, complete with super tasty little chilli, coriander and chutney dips.

Dishoom Shoreditch
Dishoom Shoreditch

I’m a little ashamed to say that I ordered exactly the same as when I last went to the other Dishoom – I hardly ever do that but had to make an exception for paneer tikka, black dal and roti – why would you stray? It tasted just as I remembered from before: fresh, rich and deeply layered with flavour.

Dishoom Shoreditch

Josh got lamb chops and fabulous gunpowder potatoes which were soft and smoky. Service was a little chaotic (our credit card was temporarily lost after opening a bar tab) but given that it was the first real night after the soft launch, I forgive that – it was still efficient and friendly. I feel I’ll be back very soon.

The new Dishoom Shoreditch is at 7 Boundary St, just off Shoreditch High Street.

Brindisa Tramontana, Shoreditch

Brindisa, Shoreditch

Now that I’m finally over norovirus and a cold, I’m so ready to make up for lost time and start eating my way round London again. On Saturday we finally got around to visiting the new(ish) Tramontana Brindisa in Shoreditch. I was pleased when they opened up nearer home, replacing the sadly overrated raw vegetarian place Saf and meaning we don’t have to chance getting a spot in their small London Bridge restaurant any more. The new place is much bigger, and was almost empty on a Saturday lunch – I assume it’s busier on weekdays and for dinner.

Brindisa, Shoreditch
Brindisa, Shoreditch

The temptation is to go nuts with tapas and order way too much, and I might have done that. But everything was sooo good. A little bowl of soft, sharp goats curd was drizzled with honey and served with crunchy little breadsticks, and vivid green padron peppers were moreishly salty and smokey.

Brindisa, Shoreditch
Brindisa, Shoreditch

I loved the DIY pan de coca, which came with a perfectly ripe tomato, olive oil, salt flakes and cut garlic ready to rub on.

Brindisa, Shoreditch

Josh ordered the ‘Patatas Tramontana’: oven-baked potato stuffed with sobrasada – a chorizo-type sausage paste – and cheese with a crisply fried egg on top. It looked amazing: he practically inhaled it and I’m plotting a way to cook a DIY veggie version at home.

Tramontana Brindisa is at 152 Curtain Road, Shoreditch.

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