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Creamy Methi Peas

If you have been following my blog you will know by now that I absolutely love fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) and try and incorporate them in as many dishes as I can. For a simple yet utterly delicious meal, I have used them for a creamy peas dish.


Ingredients:

Cashew Nut Paste

  • 50 grams cashew nuts. I soaked these in boiling hot water for around 20 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 150ml water

Other ingredients:

  • 500 grams frozen peas, boiled in simmering water for 15 minutes
  • Handful fresh methi, finely chopped and then spritzed with a little water
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of kasoori methi
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon amchur (mango) powder
  • I teaspoon garam masala
  • 150ml single cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated raw mango (optional)
  • Handful of coriander to garnish

Method:

  1. In a blender, blitz the soaked cashew nuts, ginger and green chilli with some of the water used for soaking the cashew nuts until a fine paste.
  2. Next heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add the tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle a little salt and then cook the tomatoes for 6 minutes, stirring regularly
  4. Now add the chopped fresh fenugreek, cashew nut paste and 1/4 cup of  water.
  5. Cover the pan and let this cook for around 4 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Remove the lid and you will get that instant aroma of methi I love so much!
  7. Now add the cream, peas, spices and sugar.
  8. Next add the grated raw mango if using. I love the tanginess it gives this dish.
  9. Finally add the kasoori methi and coriander as garnish and serve hot.

PS if you have leftovers, add 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup cream to make a delicious soup!

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Top 5 things to do in Lisbon

Just a 2 and a half hour flight from London, Lisbon is an unbelievably underrated yet very accessible city full of sunshine, culture, panoramic views (as it is built on 7 hills), romantic cobbled streets and amazing food. It is perfect for a weekend break and there is so much to do and see.

I particularly loved the vibrant colours all over the city contrasted with its historical charm. With castles, colour and custard tarts to look forward to, I very much hope my post encourages you to visit Lisbon if you haven’t already!

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When I visited Lisbon, I had low expectations prior to my arrival but I immediately fell in love with the city and am already planning my return. We visited in late November and it was surprisingly 23 degrees celsius with sunny spells!

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Here are the highlights of my trip and what I consider the top 5 things to do.

Eat Custard Tarts at Pasteis de Belem 

Literally I cannot explain how good these custard tarts are, which are known as Pastel De Nata. This shop has the best ones in Portugal and there is always a long queue. Good things come to those who wait and I recommend eating one or two fresh whilst at the shop, either with a coffee or tea, and taking some as takeaway as trust me you will be craving them before you know it!

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Pretend to be royalty at Castelo de Sao Jorge

This castle, which is located in Lisbon’s old town district of Alfama, sits on a hilltop with a panoramic view of the entire city. The views are spectacular and it is great fun exploring the castle and its grounds.

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You will definitely spot a peacock or two too!

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Stroll along Belem Harbourfront

Take a walk by the waterside and eat at one of the cafes or restaurants in the area. It is a different ambience to the centre of Lisbon and I loved its tranquility. Close by is also  Torre de Belem, which is a  world-heritage listed fortress that was cleverly built in the shape of a battleship to deter attackers from invading the city. You can also get amazing views of the city from this tower.

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Historical sites always leave me in awe, especially the genius thoughts behind their construction.

People watch and eat alfesco at Praça do Comércio

The main square is called Praça do Comércio and it is really lively with restaurants on both sides. It is the perfect place to have lunch alfresco while watching the tourists and locals pass by.

We enjoyed eating Portuguese food and sipping on wine whilst we watched the world go by.
Have a drink with a panoramic view of the city 
There are many vantage points for a view of Lisbon, but one of my favourites in the evening was from the Panorama bar at the top of the Sheraton Lisboa.
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With luxurious and plush interiors and comfortable seats, it was the perfect spot to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing.
Have you been to Lisbon? What were your highlights? I would love to know in the comments section below.
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Italian food at Fucina

The Dynamic Duo had been apart for weeks (felt like forever) and due to tube strikes the reunion date got delayed a week to Blue Monday, 16 January, dubbed the most depressing day of the year. Of course, the Dynamic Duo don’t believe in such gaff and so set out to have the best reunion date ever and picked Chiltern Firehouse for our signature cocktails – a Pornstar Martini for Aftab and a Mojito for myself.

After catching up we headed to new opening Fucina for some Italian food. We had read that Kurt Zdesar & Chef Stefano were behind this restaurant and that its focus was on organic seasonal produce. A big draw for us.

We arrived at this gigantic door and inside the restaurant we were met by a smiling lady who took us to our table. The restaurant is so so pretty and has such a lovely relaxed yet romantic vibe to it.

We were recommended an organic peach and raspberry bellini to start with, and so we tried it. It was refreshing and fruity and very easy to drink.

We were busy snapping away in the restaurant and so the waitress suggested we go have a peek downstairs, where there is a chefs table and the open kitchen. It was beautiful.

We then came back to our table and ordered some dishes to share. The menu has some really fantastic choices on it and the aroma of the food coming from neighbouring tables was heavenly.

First to arrive was our pizza, which was just absolutely incredible. It was made the authentic way and the ingredients were so fresh and tasty.  We went for the Bufala, which had bufala mozzarella, Sicilian Pachino tomato & basil.

Aftab loves Pappardelle pasta and so the Pappardelle Della was our second choice, which was made with a tomato & smoked mozzarella sauce. It was superb and exactly the comfort dish we had craved on a cold wintry evening.

We were given a generous helping of parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

From the Plates section, we tried the Wood Fired Sweet Potato with spiced yogurt & spring onions. I loved the texture of the sweet potato and the smokey flavours balanced with the cooling yoghurt.

Our final savoury dish was recommended by the waitress and was a Spatchcock Diavola. The chicken was marinated so well and we both loved this dish. We were also both secretly happy with the meat and the fact that it was off the bone.

Italian dessert is always so scrumptious and I went for a creamy Mascarpone al caffè con biscotti. It had fabulous coffee flavours and it was a generous helping and I couldn’t get through it all. It was absolutely divine though.

Aftab went for a refreshing limoncello sorbet, which he ate in what felt like seconds! He did let me try a little though.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our food and we will definitely be back when we want some fantastic Italian food. I can’t recommend it enough and it is so pretty inside it is the perfect place to bring a date! Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices were really good and the pizza is an absolute must!

For more information go here.

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The Darjeeling Express Biryani Supper Club at The Cinnamon Club

Asma Khan’s Supper Clubs are pretty legendary and so when I managed to get the last 2 seats for the Biryani Supper Club, which took place at The Cinnamon Club in a gorgeous room, I counted my lucky stars as I realised a little late and would have truly kicked myself if I had missed out.

Ever since the last supper club, both of us (Amit and I) had been dreaming of the Haleem and Biryani and I was so pleased to see them both on the menu for this one, along with lots of new dishes which we hadn’t tried before.

If you haven’t been to a supper club before, or are shy or unsure about going to one, let me just say it is such a fantastic experience! You meet lots of new people over amazing food, and you get to try cuisines that you may never have had before. In this particular supper club, Amit and I didn’t know anyone sitting at our table but by the end of the meal everyone was laughing, teasing each other and fast became brand new friends.

You soon realise that you will meet people with similar interests as you or who can help you in either business, social aspects, charity work or completely random things after conversing with them. I would highly recommend going to a supper club and I can guarantee you will soon be hooked on to the concept as well as network with fantastic individuals.

When we arrived at the Cinnamon Club, we went into a gorgeous room where we refreshed ourselves with a Saffron Gin and Tonic. It was lush! I also met Bibi, a brand new friend who I had been chatting to in the online sphere, as well as Maham, the most talented lady I know.

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While we chatted, we nibbled on absolutely moreish Potato and Peas samosas and Bihari Dal Phulki, which I just could not stop eating, especially with its accompanying chutney, which had a slight but very addictive kick to it. We ate so much as Asma ensured they were replenished regularly, that I was worried I was going to get full so I had to instil majestic willpower to stop myself from feasting on these.

We were soon ushered into a dining room with various tables, and we introduced ourselves to our table pals. Asma chatted to the room about the meal and dishes to come and also told us of two supper club guests, attending that afternoon, who had actually met at Asma’s previous supper club and are now engaged. Such a cute story!

For starters, we had Mutton Shikampuri Kebabs, Rogni Roti, Calcutta Puchkas (which us Gujus call Pani Puri) and mine (and Bibi’s) favourite, Hyderbadi Haleem.

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The Haleem is a special dish as it is a dish that signifies hope. It was a dish which was cooked on the last night of battle and was made with whatever ingredients were available whilst the siege was ongoing. Everything was pounded down and cooked for 8 hours. It is a real dish of optimism and hope and has a special meaning to Asma and for her business.

For mains, we had the star dish – the Calcutta Lamb Dum Biryani. It arrived in a massive platter and our table got through two of these!

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Alongside it we had a scrumptious tomato chutney, which was served warm so something new for me, Hyderbadi Mirchi Ka Salaan, which was spiced up chillies which was divine, and Beetroot Raita, with a pretty pink hue and wonderful cooling taste.

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Asma’s Biryani dish is absolutely heavenly and it tastes homemade and comforting. I am already craving it whilst typing so am hoping it will feature in a future supper club so I can get my fix!

For dessert, I tried a dish which I had never had before but fell in love with – a Hyderabadi Khoobani Ka Meetha served with fluffy cream. It is made from Apricots and it is just decadent. Big thank you to my table for helping with the food styling 😉

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You could also have Makaibari Estate Organic Darjeeling Tea, which some of the table did have, as well as Meetha Pan, which was popular amongst the room, with Asma explaining how to eat it to those whose first time it was eating Pan.


All in all it was an absolutely wonderful meal. I enjoyed every single dish and we had such fantastic conversations on our table. I loved trying new dishes and was suitably in a food coma by the end of a superb afternoon. A Saturday well spent!

Thank you Asma for such a fabulous experience and I look forward to the next one! Keep an eye out for her supper club announcements here.

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Cinnamon Bazaar

I absolutely love street food and so when Chef Vivek Singh opened Cinnamon Bazaar in Covent Garden, I was really looking forward to trying it out and it was very high on my list.

The list, by the way, grows crazily by the day as London’s restaurant scene is exploding with new openings announced faster than I can make my morning cuppa!

As we walked into the restaurant, the attention to detail in terms of the decor is what immediately caught my eye, starting with the doors when you enter! Make sure you take a moment to look at it all.

Inside the restaurant, it is so colourful, bright and spacious, and I particularly liked the decor on the ceiling. For the duration of your meal you could easily forget you were in London. The walls had this gorgeous design with specks of gold and the dinner tables had the logo etched into the corner. A lot of effort has definitely gone into the interiors and it is fabulous.

While we decided on our food, we chose the house cocktails, which have been made in collaboration with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, an award winning mixologist. They had interesting names and flavour combinations. My friend settled on the Bazaar Old Fashioned, which was a coconut washed Indian Scotch with Coconut Sugar and Burnt Cinnamon. My choice was the Falooda Swizzel, which was white rum, basil seed, creme d’abricot, lime and amaranth cress.  Very unique combinations. I really liked mine but a challenge for you Mr Lyan – please can you make a special flavoured Mojito 😉

 

We chose vegetarian dishes for the entire meal so if you are Vegetarian, this will be of particular interest for you if you are looking for a lovely restaurant to dine at.

From the starters we chose the Kadhai spiced ‘bullet’ chillies with poppy seed gun powder. They reminded me of padron peppers but with spices and the occasional kick. I really enjoyed these although personally would have added a teeny weeny bit more salt as I love fried chillies a little salty. They did have a fantastic flavour though and were perfectly cooked.

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From the Chaats we selected the Dahi bhalla chaat: Chilled lentil dumplings with spiced yoghurt and toasted cumin, as one of our choices. I was with a chaat expert so we tried not to over analyse the food. It was refreshing and I loved the dumplings.

 

The Papdi chaat was our second choice, which was a combination of crisp wheat, tangy tamarind, yoghurt and chickpea vermicelli. I especially loved the addition of cucumber and thought that it was a fantastic Papdi chaat. It would be amazing in the summer as a lunch dish too as it is so cooling.

My favourite from the chaats, however, was the Jodhpuri kachori chaat. This was spiced onion dumplings, curried white peas, and a chutney medley. The kachori itself was to die for and so so tasty. This is a must order and a dish I will re-order when I go back.

From the bazaar plates section we tried the Paneer 65 because you have got to have paneer right? This was stir-fried with curry leaf & green chilli. I loved the flavour of the curry leaf but the fiery scorpio in me wanted a little more green chilli. It was tasty nevertheless.

Our absolute favourite dish from them all though was the Grilled aubergine with a sesame peanut crumble, labna and toasted buckwheat. It was ridiculously good and very addictive. All the flavours worked so well together and I highly recommend this dish, especially if you are an aubergine lover.

 

From the sides we went with garlic naans, which were lovely,warm and fluffy.

Dessert was incredible and I went for the Cardamom kheer crème brûlée. I am quite hesitant in ordering flavoured creme brulees after having a disappointing experience once, but this version ticked all the boxes. It was flavoursome, the texture was spot on and it was dreamy. It was served with a nankhatai (shortbread).

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My friend went for the Carrot halwa roll with clove flavoured iced double cream. The carrot halwa was an interesting mix of regular carrot and black carrot and the clove ice cream worked really well with it. A novel combination.

He also couldn’t resist going for masala chai and I mean look at that teapot! How cute is that?

All in all we really enjoyed our meal at Cinnamon Bazaar and the choice was incredible. I will be back to try out the non-vegetarian dishes for sure so will either expand within this review or write a separate one. The prices on the menu are so reasonable for Covent Garden and the service was fantastic and really quick. The buzz and ambience was fun and it is a great venue to catch up with friends or go for a pre-theatre meal.

We went for dinner but would definitely go for lunch too as it is so lovely and relaxed. If you are vegetarian there is so much choice so if you fancy street food it is a really great venue.

For more information on Cinnamon Bazaar and to see the menus click here.

Our meal was complimentary but all views and photos are my own.

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Clove and Cinnamon Coffee

There is nothing more comforting than a mug of coffee with an amazing aroma of warming spices. I have been using the Sage Appliances Barista Express and decided to experiment with some flavours.


On a cold wintery day, I tried making it with clove and cinnamon, and I loved how it tasted. It instantly banished the gloom and perked me up.

Here is how you make this coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot brewed espresso. I brewed mine in the Barista Express
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • Couple of Coffee beans for garnish

Method:

  1. I placed 1 clove in the 1/4 cup of milk and let it infuse for around 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile I brewed the espresso in a mug.
  3. I then filled the mug with hot water and added sugar and mixed well.
  4. I then removed the clove from the milk and frothed the milk.
  5. Once it was nice and fluffy, I topped my mug of coffee with it.
  6. I sprinkled on some cinnamon powder and decorated with some coffee beans.

To read my review of the Sage Appliances Barista Express go here.