December 12, 2008
When a magazine asked me to review a new Indian restaurant in London, I jumped at the chance. What dissect a menu? Criticise the food? Scrutinise the ambience? For a fee?
Christmas has arrived early!
A blast of incense greeted us as we walked into the place. I spotted linen kurtas, banana leaves and stainless steel glasses. Momentarily distracted, I murmured “home” before hanging my coat and greeting Rosie.
As we pored over the menu, my husband ordered lemonade. The waiter said they didn’t have any. Okay, nimbu pani then. To which the waiter replied, you have to go to India for that. Funny he didn’t recommend we head to India for the food too.
We probably should have anyway. The Masala Dosa and Idiappam were tasty but stone cold. I was told I couldn’t have sambhar with the rice noodle cakes. And the feast, with two free glasses of tap water came to £15 ($30)! Rosie then declared she didn’t like the waiter’s vibe and we left without trialling the chocolate chilli and cardamom cake.
That would have made for a very short magazine review indeed.
Good food is better served simply with a smile. Like Peas Pulao. A restaurant staple in several guises – luminous yellow, golden brown, saffron spiked. But this simplest peas pulao recipe never fails me. And then of course, you can dress it up with other lovely ingredients.
Measure the uncooked rice in a thick cup and then wash it thoroughly in cold water in a colander or sieve. In a large pot, bring the ghee to heat and when it’s hot add the whole spices and ginger.
As they start sizzling, stir in the peas for a minute and then the rice. Add salt to taste.
Stir the whole lot for another minute until the rice starts turning bright white. Now add in one and a half times as much boiling water as rice, measured in the same cup. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered until the rice is cooked and the water is all absorbed.
Serve hot with a thick curry or dal of your choice.