Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Queens Head - Some photos

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The Queens Head - A pub situated near the Basingstoke Canal just outside Fleet, Hampshire.
The Address - Pilcot Lane, Dogmersfield, Fleet, Hook, Hampshire, RG27 8SY.
Tel - 01252 613 531
Click here to Get Directions.

The Queen's Head


A table to seat 4

The Black Pudding Tower (Black Pudding & Pancetta, in English Mustard Sauce, topped with poached egg)

Fish & Chips

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bharwaan Kheere Ka Saalan ( Stuffed Cucumber Curry)

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Last weekend, while browsing through some cookbooks in a bookstore I came across a book with some good concepts but fairly mediocre recipes. One of those consisted of stuffing cucumbers with meat. It was a good concept but one look at the photo (consisting of whole cucumbers) and a quick read through of the gravy, it was a clear no-go. Sadly, it was touted as being one from the kitchens of the Indian royalties. I mulled upon the concept of having stuffed cucumbers for the whole week and then yesterday decided on how I will end of doing it and the gravy to go with it. 

Bharwaan Kheere Ka Saalan
 ( 6 Portions)

Cucumbers - 4-5
Lamb/ Mutton, minced - 500 gms

For the Filling:
Ghee - 4 Tblsp
Onions, sliced - 2
Ginger, chopped - 50 gm
Red Chili Powder - 3 Tblsp
Coriander Powder - 3 Tblsp
Cloves - 6
Green Cardamoms - 6
Cinnamon Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - To Taste
Water - 1/2 Cup

For the Gravy:
Ghee - 2 Tblsp
Onion Paste - 100 gm
Ginger Garlic Paste - 6 Tblsp
Yogurt - 2 Cups
Red Chili Powder - 2 Tblsp
Coriander Powder - 1 Tblsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Almond Paste - 1/2 Cup
Lamb/Mutton Stock - 3 Cups
Salt - To Taste
Kewra - 2 drops

Masala Powder (Make a powder of these whole spices):
Black Peppercorns - 6
Cinnamon Stick - 1" stick
Cloves - 3-4
Green Cardamoms - 4
Black Cardamom - 1
Mace - 0.2 gm

For the Bharwaan Kheera (Stuffed Cucumbers):
1. Peel the cucumbers. Hollow out the centers (keeping the cucumbers whole) and boil them in salted water for 15 minutes.

2. Drain and cool.
3. Heat ghee in a large pan/wok.
4. Add the sliced onions and fry till they are brown.

5. Add in the minced meat. Mix well.
6. Add in the ginger and other ingredients for the filling. Saute until mince in browned.
7.  Add in the water and cook till mince in cooked. Cook till all water evaporates.

8. Fill the hollowed cucumbers with the cooked mince.

For the Gravy:
1. Whisk the yogurt with red chili powder, coriander powder & turmeric powder.
2. Heat ghee in a large pan that is wide enough to hold the stuffed cucumbers.
3. Add in the powdered masala and after 10 seconds add in the ginger garlic paste. Saute for a minute and add in the onion paste.

4. Cook till the flecks of fat start to appear on the surface.
5. Take the pan off the flame and stir-in the whisked yogurt mixture. Return to the flame and cook till fat starts to appear on the surface.
6. Add in the almond paste and cook till fat leaves the sides.
7. Add in the stock and cook on low heat for another 10-15 minutes.

Bringing it together:
1. Add in the stuffed cucumbers to the gravy and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. (add in more water if required)
2. Sprinkle kewra,stir, remove and adjust the seasoning.
3. Remove the cucumbers and slice them into roundels.
4. Place each roundel on a plate on a bed of the gravy. You can even choose to pour the gravy on top.
5. Serve hot with rice or roti.

NOTE: Vegetarians can experiment with adding in an assortment of fillings ranging from paneer to corn and mushrooms.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sweet Potato Chips

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Come the winter months, you can find roadside vendors in Delhi hawking their sweet potato fare ...shakarkandi chaat. Shakarakandi or Kachaloo is the hindi name for Sweet Potato and the Shakarkandi Chaat is an ideal in between meals snack. Frankly, I had never tasted Sweet Potatoes and was not a big fan of trying them out. I don't think anyone in my household also liked sweet potatoes, so I never stumbled upon them in the kitchen. A chance encounter with some wonderful looking sweet potatoes got me thinking that I just had to pick them up and get them home. So there they were ...sweet potatoes...on my kitchen counter and none of us with a clue as to what will become of them. After some thinking, we decided it was going to be some chips ...I mean who hates chips (even the calorie conscious do)...they were just going to be the perfect introduction to sweet potatoes. The entire family loved the chips, they didn't even last an hour. We have since moved on to trying other recipes with the sweet potato and I'm sure you will shortly catch me visiting one of the roadside vendors for my own portion of the Shakarkandi Chaat.

Sweet Potato Wafers (Chips)
(Makes 4 generous portions)

Sweet Potatoes - 4 in number
Water - To parboil
Oil - To Deep Fry
Salt - Optional

1. Wash & Peel the sweet potatoes.
2. Cut into fine round slices (preferably using a mandolin) 
Note: If they are too hard and you are finding it hard to take out slices, parboil them in hot water to soften a little bit. Take care not to turn them mashy.
3. Heat oil in a wok. Fry the Chips till they turn golden brown.
4. Remove from the wok and drain on absorbent paper.
5. Season if you wish. I have found them perfect even without salt and other seasonings. I have tried tossing them with chili flakes and I love the sweet spicy combination..maybe you could try that.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Culinaire - GK 2, New Delhi - Restaurant Review

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Address - 1, Chandan Market, S Block, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi
Tel - 011-29212413/4, 29218050
Credit Cards - Yes
Average Price - 900/- for 2 people
Alcohol - No

It all started with my better half talking to her friend, who went on and on about Culinaire in GK-II, New Delhi. With so much said, we decided to land up one evening to size the place up. We are both critical of restaurants and with praises coming from a few quarters, we had anyways raised our bar of expectations from the food ..needless to say, this review was going to turn out disastrous. It was a very mixed bag experience at the end and to say will I ever go back to the place, my answer will be a yes (not an emphatic yes, but surely a yes).And the yes comes with conditions attached which you will realize at the end of this review.

It's a blink and miss place, ahead of the famous M-Block market, nothing fancy in the decor, some seating outside for 25 odd pax and inside (which is hidden, so you wouldn't know unless you asked) for similar count. The ambience is very casual, with the outside area consisting of regular plastic tables and chairs.The kitchen is open and you can witness the entire commotion happening. In all respects it is just a roadside shack and nothing more. So if you go expecting a classy affair, you will be disappointed.
The staff is casual but extremely helpful. It was also nice to note that they had small coal sikris that were placed near each table to help keep us warm (it was cold in the night). The place is extremely busy and people are hovering around waiting for a table to vacate (we were there till 10:30 and it was packed ...thursday night).

Coming to the Menu, they serve Thai, Chinese and Lebanese cuisine (Weird combo of cuisines), which can be best described as extensive Thai food choices, decent Chinese selection and some sprinkling of Lebanese items. Strangely all pages of the Menu (4 odd pages) have a stupid "No MSG" watermark in the center. The prices of the dishes are a shock at first (considering the setting), but maybe the locality can command such prices for food. A decent appetizer can be between  Rs.150-300 for non-vegetarian items and Rs. 100-150 for vegetarians. This is unless you want to go for Doner kebabs and falafel rolls which are available for Rs. 85/- or the safe dimsum which is priced at Rs. 80 for vegetarian dim sums (Please note that our vegetarian dim sums had cottage cheese in it) and Rs. 100 for Non-vegetarians. The main course ranges from Rs. 175-300 for chicken, lamb and seafood dishes and Rs. 175-200 for vegetarian fare (strangely the mix vegetables Thai curries are at a staggering Rs. 300...I say staggering considering chicken & lamb Thai curries are at 325/-). There are no desserts, so don't even bother asking. Hop into the ice-cream parlor across the street or go someplace else for winter time sweets.

We ordered Drums of Heaven (150/-), Veg Dim Sums (80/-) and Crispy Potato Chilli Honey (150/-) for starters.None of them lived up to our expectations. The dimsums had cottage cheese (paneer) in them and tasted like the regular street fare (which is available at one-third the price), the potato chilli honey lacked the chilli part (And I dont blame them...not many restaurants in Delhi do this dish properly) and the Drums of Heaven were in short Chicken Pakoras (on the bone).

Our main course consisted of Thai Lamb Red Curry (325/- and yes all Thai curries come with Steamed Rice) and Veg. Burnt Garlic Rice(135/-). The Burnt Garlic Rice was passable but the Thai Red Curry was out of the world. The lamb was the best I have tasted for some time in a Thai dish. Later I came to hear that most people come here for the Thai food which is good value for the price.
And that brings me to the important point ..yes I will go back...provided I'm in the vicinity and only for the Thai food..nothing else.

FOOD -        

SERVICE -       


Friday, February 3, 2012

The Old Delhi Culinary Trail - Changezi Chicken - Restaurant Review

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OVERALL RATING - We choose to restrain from an overall rating, as given the seating and service this place will not score too high. But then, the charm of old Delhi eateries has always been the food. Go for the Changezi Chicken. If you are picky about the experience, then drop in to the takeaway and pack yourself some to eat in the cozy confines of your home.

So what do you order when you go to a restaurant named Changezi Chicken? No prizes for guessing, but obviously the dish named Changezi Chicken. And that is exactly what we did last week when we dropped in to sample the fare at Changezi Chicken. Situated on Netaji Subhash Chandra Marg in Daryaganj, it is hard to miss. The Neon Sign proclaiming Changezi Chicken beckons you from far. 2 shops down they also have a small takeaway, again with an equally huge neon sign.
The restaurant is small and run down with no frills paid to either the kitchen which is in the open and that you encounter as you enter and tables and chairs thrown in to sit people. They pride themselves for their food and that is what they focus on. Infact a much bigger sign of Zaika, the family restaurant, overshadows the Changezi Chicken sign. And you plan to enter, Zaika promises to be a much comfortable and better dining experience. But in the 30 minutes that I stood outside (Not waiting for my table, just talking to the people around), Zaika could not match the crowd at Changezi, even by a far shot. 
The menu is chicken-centric, with a mutton qorma and fish tikka thrown in, some vegetarian options (3 to be precise) and steamed chicken momos and chicken soup (now why would they do that).
We ordered the Changezi Chicken, qtr. plate for each person and I also ordered a mutton qorma to sample. Chicken Changezi promises to be a very different experience. A dish consisting of grilled chicken pieces (which have been marinated in lime juice and spices) that is cooked on the tava, it is at best an acquired taste, and that too gets acquired by the third piece of morsel that goes in. Initially, you find it a little sourish and tangy but then it grows on you and well by the end, you find it a very good change from the regular chicken dishes that you find. The curry is spicy and the chicken pieces are soft and delicate. 
The mutton qorma was decent, nothing great (I'm biased towards Al Jawahar and Karims). We ordered the Roomali Roti, Tandoori Roti, Naan and Khameeri Roti.  I will suggest having the Changezi Chicken with Tandoori Roti. It goes well. The Qtr. plate is good portion for one starving person, unless you are ordering other items on the menu too.

The servers are polite and courteous. Service is quick, but don't expect uniformed waiters, performing service from a platter. The food is the king here and the queues say it all.


SERVICE -           


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