Thursday, 22 December 2016

Tandoor Chop Review - a new North Indian British Chop House Restaurant



The Tandoor Chop House has opened recently near Charing Cross in London, the restaurant philosophy is to combine the traditional North Indian eateries and tandoori menus with that of a classically British chop house offering high quality cuts of meat. We visited over the weekend for one of our annual family Christmas dinners. The little one was lucky enough to get tickets to watch Peppa Pig in the theatre with his Auntie and Uncle as his Christmas present this year, a great production from what I heard that was enjoyed both my him and the adults. We met up with them after the show for lunch and were able to book a table the day before at the Tandoor Chop House. 

                                                
We went on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch and the restaurant was fairly but not completely packed, the location is slightly hidden away from the main street so less chance to discover it by just walking past which is a shame as it was great. 

Similar to other Indian restaurants that have opened in the last few years in London such as Dishoom and Gymkhana both in terms of its striped down relaxed decor which is heavily influenced by their counterpart originals back in India and also with regards to the condensed menu serving significantly less dishes than your local curry house on the high street. 
Tandoor Chop House gets the balance just right in terms of a relaxed atmosphere but still provided exceptional quality and cooking of the food. The menu is divided into 5 main sections, snacks, tandoor, sides, naan and dessert and the great thing about going with a large group is I got to taste it all pretty much.

Drinks are also a big of the dining experience with a whole section dedicated to Gins and several specialist cocktails, including the Strand Spritz below, the winner however was one of the special cocktails of the day the - Punjabi Sour - a twist on a traditional whiskey sour. 


I loved the attention to detail including all the copper ware and these traditional clay water bottles. Similar to restaurants back in India water is presented as soon as you take a seat at the table to in a way welcome you as a guest. 


For starters we tried all 5 of the snack items, my favourite personally being the Seekh Kebab roll and Bhaji Onion Rings. Both of these were cooked perfectly with the right balance of spice and heat. Also great when the chutneys add so much depth to the dishes and not merely there as a garnish. The Keema was good but a bit too much cinnamon for my liking. Both the fish dishes were great but maybe with it being December and having come in from the cold the lamb and onion rings stood out more, the Tuna was very refreshing and similar to a chaat in flavour.

Seekh kebab roll, green chutney & pomegranate

Dexter ‘dripping’ keema naan, green chilli
              & yoghurt

Bhaji onion rings, burnt garlic chutney

Keralan raw tuna tartare, coconut
         & fried curry leaves

IPA’ battered & spiced squid and prawns,
               chilli chutney

The snack portion size is small so for a group of 6 we shared around 8 of these for a starter, guess it just depends on how hungry you are and we were all very hungry.

For mains though the portion sizes are very generous, in particular the steak and the chicken which one portion was more than enough to share between us. My ultimate hero though out of the entire lunch were the juicy, tender, still pink but charred crispy fat lamb chops, very delicious.

We also shared a black dhal which was ok, not spicy enough for me but I liked the smoked undertones.  I also tried all three naan, my favourite was the garlic, cheese and chili one. The bone marrow naan did not taste much different to the butter naan.

Service was great, no issues with ordering more drinks or extra food and its always a good sign having an open kitchen to be able to see how happy the chef is whilst cooking your dinner.

Amritsari crispy lamb chops

Masala boti rubbed ribeye

House tandoor chicken

Corn on the cob ‘tikka’, black sesame & lime

My little one is over 2 now so he is fine sitting in a normal chair or on a bench as the restaurant did not yet have any highchairs if you have a baby, they did say these were due to come in shortly. More of an issue is no baby changing, again my one is old enough to a)not be in nappies and b)get changed standing up but just to be aware off. Its not marketed as a child friendly restaurant and is more of an upmarket place but Bubs is quite well behaved so this was not an issue for us but some people may not feel comfortable taking small children. It depends entirely on you, its not very large either so there is not any space for them to run around. They were very accommodating to our pushchair as Bubs was asleep when we got there and also reserved us a booth so he could sit comfortably on the bench seating too. I also think the Gunpowder fries we got on the house were due to his cheeky smile at the waitress when she tried to pick his plate up before he had finished. 

For desert we choose the ice cream and the halwa pudding which I thought was a very clever desert and a great way to round of the meal. Gajjar (Carrot) Halwa is a traditional sticky Indian desert and this was baked into a sticky toffee pudding, the perfect combination of both Indian and British which summarise the ethos of the entire restaurant and its concept. 

I would be more than happy to go back to Tandoor Chop House and look forward to seeing how the menu evolves. 


Chai Syrup, Ice cream and Pistachio



Halwa Sticky Toffee Pudding with Clotted Cream

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Christmas Baking - Beautiful Chocolate Badboy Brownies


It is one of my favourite times of the year again! I say again because this year has just flown by - I remember posting my chocolate orange cookies recipe like it was just the other day.

I love Christmas mainly because of the over indulging in cheese, chocolate and for the chance to spend a couple of weeks of the year reconnecting and socialising with friends and family. 

As we were away the first week of December last weekend was our first chance to put up our tree and get into the festive spirit. I also took out an hour early on Saturday morning whilst the little one was at football lessons to whip up a batch of these badboy brownies. I first tasted them when my sister in law baked them, she does some great cakes, brownies and only recently ventured into the would of macaroons - all great for me as I get to eat it all. She also kindly made these up for my little ones Peppa Pig themed 2nd birthday which formed the 'Muddy Puddles' element to his food table. 



The original  recipe is based on Lorraine Pascals cookies and cream brownies - I used Oreo cookies in these and I think they provide just the right amount of sweetness against the dark chocolate. It's a quick an easy recipe and perfect for mid week baking. Also make wonderful gifts during this time, that is if you fancy sharing them. 

Makes 16 brownie squares.

Equipment 
  • 20cmx20cm baking tray
  • freestand mixer or electric whisk

Preheat oven to 170 fan and line baking tray with greaseproof paper and either butter or cooking spray




Ingredients 

165g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate 
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. Vanilla extract 
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 packet of Oreos

Method

  1. Cube up butter and break up chocolate - place into microwaveable container and melt in 30 second blast until smooth and combined together



2.Whisk up eggs and vanilla extract using whisk attachment for around 5 minutes until fluffy


3. Add in brown sugar in two separate batches 




4.Sieve in flour, cocoa,salt and mix


5.Pour in melted chocolate butter mixture and combine
6.Chop up all but four of the Oreo biscuits into quarters and so a final mix of the brownie mixture


7.Pour into a lined and greased baking tray and cut up the remaining Oreos before placing on top


8.Bake for 25-30 minutes - I find 27 minutes provides perfect crunch on top and soft gooey middle










Sunday, 30 October 2016

Diwali Treats - Besan Recipe - a sweet nutty indian fudge





Besan Ladoo in Kenya


Happy Diwali to all those who are celebrating this year, it is a wonderful time of year and aside from the religious part it marks the start of the festive times and cold winter evenings. 
The below recipe has been very kindly been given to me by one of my aunties who made the delicious besan ladoo pictured above, you can also make this into bite size piece by cutting from a tray as below. It is the perfect time of year to hibernate, add on the calories and share sweets with friends and family so please enjoy making these delicious nutty fudge tasting treats. 

Tray of freshly cooked Besan


BESAN 


2 bowls heaped -------gram flour 
2 bowls level -----------------sugar (white)
1 bowl--------------------------water (to make syrup)
½ tea spoon -------------------yellow food colouring (optional)
250gms -------------------------butter
Extra ghee if necessary
½ Cup ---------------------------Milk Powder
¼ bowl --------------------------Almonds (finely grated/chopped)
¼ bowl --------------------------Pistachio nuts (finely grated/chopped)
1 bowl ---------------------------lightly toasted sesame seeds (optional)
2 tb sps --------------------------dessicated coconut (optional)




  • Grease a shallow thali or baking tray with ghee and leave aside
  • Chop all the nuts very finely
  • Make syrup with the sugar and water between 1 – 1 ½   strings and leave aside 
  • Add butter to a wide karahi and melt gently.
  • Add besan and cook on low heat (add extra ghee if too dry) until cooked (the besan should have become slightly brown and should smell cooked) 
  • Add colour to the syrup and a few laichi seeds.
  • Once the besan has cooked turn off the heat and mix in the milk powder, allow to cool slightly.
  • Then add the sugar syrup to besan and mix thoroughly well.
  • Pour into a greased thali and level off.
  • Sprinkle the chopped nuts/seeds on the besan and press very lightly so that the nuts stick to the besan well.
  • Allow to set and cool. 
  • Cut into small pieces.
  • If making into ladoo after the mixture has cooled roll into balls and coat in the toasted sesame seeds







Mini Ladoos made by Mum for my baby shower



Gulab Jamuns - deep fried milk doughnuts soaked in sugar syrup 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Brilliant Burgers - Turkey and Veg Burgers

Turkey, Courgette, Sweetcorn and Peppers Burgers



These are delicious turkey burgers packed full of veggies, kid - friendly and perfect to make ahead and keep in the freezer for a mid week meal. 

Bubs is now a fully talking toddler so to quote him on one of his new words - he thinks these are brilliant. I am always on the search for fast food that is both tasty, healthy and quick to make and these sure fit the brief. 

They taste and cook best if made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to cook them, I also froze a bunch by making the mixture, cooling it down in the fridge and then freezing the burgers with some greaseproof between them to ensure they do not stick, simply defrost when needed and cook away. 

Ingredients 

2 Garlic Cloves - finely chopped
2 Spring Onions - finely chopped
1/2 Courgette - finely grated
1/2 Red Pepper - finely chopped
5 Babycorn - finely sliced or 1/2 cup of sweetcorn kernels
500g Minced Turkey Breast
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Garlic Salt
1 tsp Ground Cumin
Black Pepper 
1 Tbsp. Mixed Dried Herbs
1/2 Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. Oil (any to shallow fry the burgers)
*Salt and 1 finely diced red chilli if making for non-Bubs

Method

1. In a large bowl combine the garlic, spring onions, courgette, red pepper, sweetcorn, turkey, paprika, garlic salt, cumin, black pepper, herbs and breadcrumbs
2.Using either your hands or a ring shape into burger shapes
3.Refrigerate for around 3 hours
4.Heat oil in a frying pan and shallow fry for around 5-6 minutes each side until cooked through
5.Serve either in a bun or as a healthier open burger 

We had ours for a light lunch on brioche bread with avocados and crispy parma ham on top, delicious. 


Friday, 14 October 2016

Toddler Baking Ideas - Traditional Cupcakes and Rocky Road Bars



With the weather getting colder and autumn setting in its the perfect excuse to start doing more indoor activities with your little ones and bake some cakes. Or even if you do not have kids as a perfect excuse you can still blame the cold weather as a reason to enjoy a homemade cake and a cup of tea.

Over the last weekend me and Bubs decided to do some baking together. The first time I attempted this was last Easter when he was around 18 months along with two of his cousins, I thought making chocolate crispy nest would be a good idea but turns out melted chocolate, Shreddies and 3 very excited little boys do not go so well together.... go figure.

Fast forward 7 months though and he is much more ready to embrace the wonderful world of cooking, one of his favourite birthday presents was a role play kitchen so he has spent a lot of time cooking for us in his own kitchen and it was time to let him loose in mine.

I decided to start with the basic - a classic cupcakes with icing and sprinkle and a rocky road which although does not require an oven still takes a certain level of skill to get right.
The cupcakes were really easy I used the all in one method and Bubs had lots of fun decorating them and eating them. The rocky road was mainly all his own work, including crushing the biscuits and mixing all the dry ingredients together, so overall I think these two are great recipes to do with your little ones and get them excited about cooking from a young age.


These recipes can be used as building blocks, feel free to add your own flavours and toppings and it would be great to see all the creations you guys make too :)


Vanilla Cupcakes - inspiration from Jamie Olivers Food Tube 'The Cake Book'

Makes 24
Set Fan Oven to 170 fan/375 F/Gas Mark 5

Equipment - Stand Mixed/Electric Whisk, Electric Scales, Hand Whisk and Mixing Bowl.

Ingredients
250g Self-Raising Flour
250g Caster Sugar
1/4 tsp  Bicarbonate of Soda
250g Stork
4 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. Whole Milk
150g Icing Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Whole Milk
Hundreds and Thousands/Sprinkles/Milk Chocolate Buttons etc

Method
1.Preheat the oven
2.Place cupcake cases in 2 12 hole muffin tins, Bubs brought special dinosaur ones the day before from Tescos
3.I use a stand mixed and just place the mixing bowl directly onto the scales to weigh the individual ingredients out before placing into the machine to save on washing up but you can measure them out individual if you prefer.
Sift in the flour, caster sugar, bicarb into the bowl
4.All in the Stork and Eggs
5.Blend on a medium speed for 1 minute
6. Add in the vanilla extract and milk
7.Blend for another 1 minute
8.Fill the individual cases using an ice cream scoop
9.Bake for 18-20 minutes
10.Cool on wire rack once cooked
11.Blend Icing sugar and milk and use to spread over cupcakes before topping with decorations of your choice.





Triple Chocolate Rocky Road Bars
Makes around 20-30 depending on size you cut them out

Equipment - 20cmx20cm baking tray, mixing bowl and rolling pin

Ingredients
300g Digestive Biscuits
1 Cup of Flaked Almonds
1 Cup of Mini - Marshmallows
1/2 Cup of Raisins
100g Milk Chocolate broken up
75g Dark Chocolate broken up
120g unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp. of Golden Syrup
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
20g of Caster Sugar
20g of Cocoa Powder
50g of White Chocolate

Method
1.In a large mixing bowl crush up the digestive biscuits using a rolling pin
2.Add in the almonds, marshmallows and raisins
3.On a low heat melt together the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract, caster sugar and cocoa powder
4.Pour the melted glossy chocolate over all the dry ingredients and mix well
5.Place into a baking tray and press it down before refrigerating either overnight or a for at least 3-4 hours
6.Once set melt some white chocolate and sprinkle over the top before cutting into bars


7.Remove from tray and enjoy - unfortunately forgot to get a picture of this stage as I was too busy eating them