The Spicy Affair, Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon

On Saturday night myself and 5 friends (including 3 fellow WWRS reviewers who will no doubt give their own verdict) went to The Spicy Affair, a new Indian restaurant in Cherry Orchard Road, East Croydon.  I’d heard mostly good things about it so was looking forward to comparing it with it’s extensive competition. 

Initial signs were good.  It was very nicely decorated and there was plenty of room around each table so you didn’t feel like you were being crammed into as small an area as possible to increase the restauant’s capacity.  They also had Cobra on tap rather than in bottles, which is always good, and the menu was extensive to say the least.  Most importantly of all, the clientele consisted almost entirely of Indian people rather than boozed up English louts, confirming the claims on their promotional material that they are “maintaining traditional, authentic experience with modern contemporary cuisine” rather than just pampering to the English market.

Unfortunately, I have a confession to make.  You see, while I like to think my tastes have matured in the last few years and I now appreciate the merits of paying that bit extra for quality dining, it seems that when it comes to Indian food I am still an Englsh pleb.  Almost everytime I go out for a curry and decide to order something “unusual” I immediately regret it and wish I’d had an onion bhaji and a chicken korma.  This Saturday was no exception.  I started with some deep fried paneer which had a nice dressing of some kind but the cheese itself was rubbery and tasteless.  I then tried a “Chicken Handi” which turned out to be far hotter than I’m used to and, either as a result of the excess heat or my unrefined pallette, didn’t really tatse that great either.  To top it all off the pulau rice had peas and carrots randomly added to it and the naan bread was thin, greasy and crispy.

So all in all I wasn’t impressed with the food.  However, the service was excellent, the staff were extremely nice and the prices were very reasonable, especially for the beer which was £3 a pint compared to the £6 a bottle you can pay in some places.  If there were other people who were going and I got invited along then I think I would probably give it another chance on the basis that I might just have been unlucky with my food choices, but it certainly won’t be replacing Zafran as my local Indian of choice.

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Published in: on 20/07/2009 at 10:20 pm  Comments (4)  
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Mangosteen, Gypsy Hill, London

Just thought I’d post a quick review of this place in Gypsy Hill (actually at the bottom of the Hill just opposite The Mansion pub). It’s a lovely little venue with friendly service and a pleasant atmosphere. I would say that’s more of a couple’s restaurant than one for a group of friends, but that’s just my opinion and is based mainly on the the fact that’s quite a small size (but by no means claustrophobic).

The food is a mixture of South East Asian cuisine (Vietnamese, Thai, Malay) and Chinese and Japanese. The former is probably the better and the main reason for going there. Things like Vietnamese rice, salt & pepper squid. All full of flavour. I won’t go on as it has been a few months since I’ve been, but I thoroughly recommend the coconut ice-cream for pudding. It’s delicious! Worth checking this place out.

Published in: on 11/07/2009 at 1:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Si’s Chili Con Carne/Quorn

I’ve been asked to post this recipe up here, which I take as a compliment, but to be honest I just make it up as I go along and it’s a constantly evolving thing.  That means that the recipe here may not result in something that tastes exactly like it did when/if I cooked it for you, especially as I’m a little vague on the quantities. Anyway it is very easy and relatively quick to make.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1 medium-to-large onion
Garlic
Chilies
Beef or Quorn mince
Basil & Coriander and/or 1 Italian OXO cube
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Tomato puree
1 tin of kidney beans
Salt
Pepper
Tabasco
Encona hot pepper sauce
Red wine
1 cup of rice

First chop up the onion into fairly small chunks and fry it in the wok.  I use low fat sunflower spray but use oil if you’re not bothered.  Just before the onion is finished browning I add the garlic and chilies and mstir it in with the onion for a minute or so.  I use “Very Lazy Garlic” and “Very Lazy Chili” for pretty much all my cooking.  If you’ve not used it it comes in jars pre-chopped and the amount to use depends on your own preference. I really like garlic so I put in quite a lot, anything up to 1 small teaspoon for 2 people.  With the chilies I would add a lot less because it’s pretty potent stuff, but also because you’re going to be adding 3 kinds of pepper later on.

When the onion is done add in the mince.  I’m afraid I have got no idea how much in terms of grams and ounces, I just pour it out the packet, but use whatever you normally would for 2 people.  Stir it quite frequently while cooking to make sure it browns equally all over. Like the garlic and chilies, I cheat and use those squeezable tubes of basil and coriander and would normally add that now and stir it all together while the beef cooks.  If you’re using more traditional herbs then you’ll want to wait until the chopped tomatoes are in, but I like to coat the mince directly.

Once the mince is cooked add the chopped tomatoes and then a bit of tomato puree just for an extra tomato-ey kick. If you’re using Quorn there’s no natural “juice” to keep things moist so you need to be careful not to burn it and might want to add the tomatoes earlier rather than later.  Also, you may well find you don’t need 2 whole tins of chopped tomatoes if you’re using beef but you need a lot more for the Quorn.  Next stir in the kidney beans.  Add in the salt and pepper and then add the Tobasco and the hot sauce.  Again, the exact amounts depend on how hot you like it but I’m pretty generous with the Tobasco and use the Encona sauce sparingly.  The Robs of this world can always add more once it’s on their plate. At this point I used to add an Italian style OXO cube, but that was before I discovered the squeezey herbs and I find that the basil and coriander are usually enough on their own.  I also sometimes add a splash of red wine, but not always.

Once it’s all in the pan leave it to cook through for a little while.  As a general rule I find Quorn  tastes nicer the longer you cook it and so you may want to leave it for half an hour or so.  With beef I find that the 12-15 mins it takes to cook the rice is usually enough.  Once the rice and meat/Quorn are done put them both on a plate and eat it.

Published in: on 16/06/2009 at 10:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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One-pan Prawn Pilau

One of mine & Bob’s favourite recipe’s. It’s ridiculously easy to cook and a much healthier alternative to a proper curry. You could use cooked chicken or veg instead of the prawns. Obviously the Bob version is sans-peas.

2tbsp korma curry paste (Patak’s is good)

 1 small onion finely chopped

300g/10 oz basmati rice, rinsed and drained

700ml chicken stock from a cube

150g pack peeled, cooked prawns, defrosted if frozen

cupful frozen peas

1 red chilli, sliced into rings (or use the cheating Lazy Chilli like I do!)

handful coriander leaves chopped

lemon wedges, to serve

  1. Heat a wide pan and dry-fry the curry paste with the onion for several minutes until the onion just starts to soften. Add the rice to the pan, then stir to coat in the curry paste. Add the stock then bring to boil.
  2. Cover the pan, then turn the heat down to low. Leave the rice to simmer slowly for 12-15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. You may want to check/stir the rice occasionally during cooking to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  3. Turn off the heat, then stir in the prawns, peas and chilli. Cover the pan and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Fluff up the rice grains with a fork and season if you want. Scatter over the coriander. Serve with lemon wedges, and a naan bread if desired.

SERVES 4

Taken from BBC Good Food – Easy One Pots October 2008

Posted by Michelle

Published in: on 03/06/2009 at 5:54 pm  Comments (7)  

Chicken and Leek Pot Pie

Last night I made this pie from Delia’s online collection for my Mum, Step-Dad and Nan:

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/chicken-and-leek-pot-pie,1920,RC.html

I didn’t make it in a pot, I made it in a big oven proof dish, but otherwise I followed the recipe pretty much exactly.  I have to say that it was really nice and was well recieved by all with my Nan even pinching the recipe to take home.  However, it did take me rather longer than expected, by which I mean about 45 mins longer.  I couldn’t get the white sauce to mix properly at first and then when I got to the bit where I had to reduce the cider to 4 table spoons worth (I doubled all the measures) I found myself with about a pint of liquid so ended up having to give up after a while and throw a bit away.

For what it’s worth, I did it with some chive mash, carrots, sugar snap peas and those weird mini-corn things

Posted by Si

Published in: on 29/05/2009 at 8:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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I don’t know about the kids…

Last night I went to Makro for the first time in 10 years.  I’d forgotten just how awesome that place is.  I walked all the way down the sweet aisle,  got to the end, turned round, then walked back up it again. Eventually I decided that if I told myself I was buying some sweets for everyone at work then I could justify the extravagance.  So, because both kids AND grown-ups love it so, I plumped for a 1250 gram tub of Haribo Star Mix which I opened and stuck on my desk at 9am this morning.  It’s now almost 3pm and it’s almost half empty already!  There’s not a kid to be seen so one can only assume that the advertising slogan is true.  I should have bought a couple more.

Posted by Si

Published in: on 22/05/2009 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Spicy Sausage! & Cheese Grill

This recipe is from Gary Rhodes’s book “Great Fast Food” which I’ve found to be particularly user friendly and a good way to get into doing slightly more imaginative cooking (although sometimes it’s hard to get the ingredients he suggests).

This is a real “comfort food” recipe and also good for cold weather, so I’ll post it at the beginning of summer…
(btw the ! in the title is because you have to remember that brilliant bit from Blackadder III with Robbie Coltrane as Dr Samuel Johnson, when he realises he forgot to put the word Sausage in his dictionary, oh and aardvark as well)

Serves 4
6 Spicy Sausages
200g (7oz) ricotta cheese (I have used feta instead which works just as well if not better)
55g (2oz) pecorino (parmesan works as well)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
salt and pepper
150ml (5fl oz) barbecue sauce, home-made or from a jar or packet
200g (7oz) can chopped tomatoes
40g (1 1/2oz) fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil

1 Grill the spicy sausages for 12 minutes until they are cooked through and browned. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

2 Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying-pan and add the onions and peppers. Fry for 2-3 minutes until softened. Pre-heat the grill to high.

3 Add the chorizo sausage and season. Mix in the barbecue sauce and chopped tomatoes and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the sausages and make sure they are heated through.

4 Place in a dish and scatter the ricotta, pecorino, breadcrumbs and half the basil on top. Grill for 3 minutes (or until cheese has melted to your satisfaction).

Serve – with the rest of the basil sprinkled on top.

Posted by Matt

Published in: on 22/05/2009 at 11:42 am  Comments (7)  
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Amish Bob and Andy Pie

To kick the Eating section off, here is a recipe for a pie.  I have no idea why it is called what it is called but I loved the name,  the fact that you make the pie “quiver” and the final declaration!

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This recipe comes from all_dessert_recipes@yahoogroups.com which is one of the recipe groups at www.yahoogroups.com

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Beat all ingredients together very well and pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell.
  • Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. Pie will quiver. The top will be puffed up when you remove the pie from the oven and will fall down after it has cooled.

Makes 1 pie

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Posted by Si

Published in: on 12/05/2009 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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