Spice panorama

 The Vista, Nairobi, Kenya

There are great views of the Kenyan capital from this seventh floor restaurant in the vibey area of Westlands. Large glass panels offer diners about 180 degree span of the city as they enjoy their curry.

As the Vista serves as the Hotel Emerald’s restaurant and bar there are different cuisines on the menu, but strictly speaking this is a curry restaurant and it welcomes a lot of locals and visitors who aren’t staying at the hotel.

Considering the chefs do have to cater for different tastes there is decent line up in the Indian section, with no less than 20 starters and 34 main dishes, not to mention naans and rice. Vegetarians are particularly well catered for, with a host of tasty sounding dishes, including the lively looking Dynamite Paneer Pops (Ksh600).

If in doubt keep it simple, so I opted for a Chicken Malai Kebab (Ksh800), a butter naan (Ksh100) and pickles. The chicken was tender and as the juice oozed out of delicately charing you you could taste the tandoor at work, while the coriander and crunchy salad provided the perfect fresh complement. Wrapped up in soft naan and topped off with some spicy pickle it makes for a great lunch.

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Chicken Malai Kebab with butter naan.

The Vista (at the Hotel Emerald), 7th Floor, Krishna Centre, Woodvale Grove, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: +254 (0)716 228 302. Open: daily noon–3pm and 6pm–10.30pm.

The exchange rate at the time of the visit was £1 = Ksh153, $1 = Ksh100.

The scores on the tandoors

Food 8

Decor 6

Vibe 3 (Saturday lunchtime)

Service and friendliness 8

Value 9

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

 

Kuku Wa Kupaka (Swahili Chicken)

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Serves 6

Ingredients

• 30g cumin powder
• 15g turmeric powder
• 30g cardamon powder
• 15g chopped garlic
• 15g chopped ginger
• 1l coconut milk
• 500ml yoghurt
• 30ml lemon juice
• 1kg chicken thighs and legs
• 100g chopped onions
• 20ml corn oil

For the garnish
• 100g chopped onions
• One tomato cut into small cubes
• A small handful of chopped coriander
• A pinch of parsley

Method

1. Mix 15g cumin, 7.5g turmeric, 15g cardamon, 7.5g chopped garlic, 7.5g chopped ginger, 150g coconut milk, 250ml yoghurt and 20ml lemon juice and coat the chicken with the mixture to marinate. Set aside for two to three hours.

2. When the chicken has marinated arrange the pieces on an oven tray, making sure they are all well coated with the mixture. Preheat the oven to 180 C and cook the chicken for 25 minutes. Checked that all the pieces are cooked through.

3. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and stir in the rest of the cumin, turmeric, chopped garlic, chopped ginger, coconut milk and 10ml of lemon juice. Reduce the sauce to half its original quantity then add the rest of the yoghurt and let it boil for one minute

4. Add in the chicken pieces and heat through.

5. Add the garnish and serve with rice and chapatti.

• Recipe courtesy of Dominic Keya, chef at the Hilton, Nairobi, Kenya.

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

Greenwich Curry Club Awards 2014

It’s that time of year when the Greenwich Curry Club, in association with the Greenwich Visitor announce the 4th annual Greenwich Curry Club Awards. The awards have been gaining in prestige since we launched them in 2011 and it’s nice to see that many restaurants proudly display their certificates on their walls. It has taken a year of solid research of restaurants and takeaways in our area, but members of the curry club are proud to announce the following winners…

Best restaurant: Coriander (Westcombe Park)
Highly commended: Mountain View

Best takeaway: Green chillies
Highly commended: Le Popadom

Best for service: Mountain View
Highly commended: Gurkha’s Inn

Best for value: Gurkha’s Inn
Highly commended: Taste of Lewisham

Best newcomer: Mountain View
Highly commended: Kerala Village

Best starter: Kerala Village (Hot and sour soup)
Highly commended: Gurkha’s Inn (Lamb tikka)

Best main: Coriander (Naga chicken)
Highly commended: Mountain View (Mixed seafood curry)

The classy Coriander has been knocking on the door for a few years but for 2014 we felt the combination of the exceptionally fresh and tasty food, as well as great service and décor, the restaurant is the deserved winner of Best restaurant 2014. The Westcombe Park venue also gobbles up the award for Best Main for the superbly hot and tasty Naga chicken. Eat ’em and weep vindaloo lovers. Congratulations also to Mountain View for being highly commended in the Best restaurant category in just its first year in business. With such a good showing overall it should come as no surprise that the same restaurant should be named as the Best newcomer. Manager Rom and his team also picked up the Best service award and were highly commended for the Mixed seafood curry, a treasure trove for fish lovers. Another newcomer making waves is Kerala Village. A few different owners have tried to make a go of this south Indian–themed restaurant in Trafalgar Road but we reckon the premises has finally found the man to do the job. The new owner provides a superb range of quality dishes, especially for vegetarians, and if you do nothing else try the Hot and sour soup, which wins the Best starter award hands down. Meanwhile, Best takeaway for the second successive year goes to the unassuming Green Chillies, which keeps turning out quality curry from its premises in Blackheath Road. Its neighbour, the ever-reliable Le Popadom, a previous winner of this category, is highly commended. Gurkha’s Inn is no stranger to the Greenwich Curry Club Awards, having picked up nearly every honour over the years. So it’s no surprise to see this family team, who are seasoned curry house pros, feature prominently again by winning the Best for value category and being highly commended for service. Maybe the only surprise is that the mouth-watering Momos don’t feature this year, although their tender, tasty, Lamb tikka gets a thumbs-up in the Best starter category.

A fine lunch

Charcoals, Glasgow, Scotland

Lunchtime curries are always a bit of a treat and it certainly is a treat at Charcoals. This smallish curry house doesn’t look much from the outside but the food is cracking. It’s also just around the corner from The Horseshoe, one of Glasgow’s best known pubs, so you can have a nice post-curry pint if you plump for an early executive lunch.

At just £6.95 it’s particularly good value, although once you’ve added a during-curry pint (£3.60 for draught Tennent’s), some pickle (95p) and a tip it’ll be double that.

The food is exceptional and the Chicken Desi Karahi one of the best curries I’ve ever had. The first mouthful simply exploded in flavours. The sauce was sweetish, but spicy, and full of onion, peppers and juicy bits of meat. I had it with two chappatis but you can also chooose boiled rice or a naan if you prefer.

The deal also comes with a starter (you can choose from a small range) and the Chana Poori was nearly up there with the main in the flavour stakes. Super tastes all wrapped up in puffy, flaky bread.

There’s a small hatch near the door, which the chefs use to let out the heat, and as I was the table nearest this it was fascinating to watch them at work. I’d love to show you a pic of these great chefs but unfortunately I was told that taking a pic is “against the law, against company policy” by the slightly grumpy waiter. The hatch door was promptly shut and steamed up. Mmm.

Instead I will show you a pic of the fine lunch  this unassuming but quality little place dished up. If you don’t hear from me again it’s because the curry police have taken my camera and I’m hiding in the oven.

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Tasty karahi, pickles, chappati and a beer. A fine lunch…

Charcoals, 26a Renfield Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 1LU. Tel 0141 258 6482. Open: noon–late.

Scores on the tandoors

Food 9

Decor 6

Service and friendliness 6

Atmosphere 6 (Wednesday lunchtime)

Value 9

 

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