I love Indian food. (Wait a minute, I think I’ve started a post like this before…yes, I have!) Whether it’s from the north or the south, I’ll eat it – I love the complex combination of spices and the variety inherent in every meal – the rice, the breads, the curries, the chutneys, the pickles. This love has obviously be traced back to my origins – growing up in Malaysia and Singapore, Indian food holds a place in everyone’s hearts (along with Chinese, Malay and Western foods).
However, this wasn’t true of Blai….at first. Understandably, he wasn’t terribly fond of any Indian food at first, his stomach being unused to the multiple spices and chili heat. I remember an early Valentine’s Day between us when he took me out to eat Indian food. It sounds a bit odd but to me, it was particularly romantic seeing that he was willing to put aside his qualms for my happiness. As for any romance that night? Well, I did end up horizontal but it was only to facilitate my rubbing of my distended stomach: I’d overeaten!
So when Blai suggested going for Indian food one night, I was shocked! He’d actually expressed a craving – something he’d never had for this cuisine. Still shocked, I listed all our usual joints but then remembered a place that was suggested to me by a few of you on this blog – Shilpa in Hammersmith. Thanks for the recommendation, Alex and Claire! That’s where we went!
I ordered a little something to pick at while our main dishes were cooking – Cocktail Masala Vada (£2.50), fried Bengal gram dumplings, spicy coconut chutney on the side. These little morsels went down easily enough, especially with the delicious chutney alongside. (The blurry thing in the photo is the sixth masala vada being taken off the plate by Blai – action shot!)
The first curry we ordered was the erachi mappas (£6.50) – boneless lamb cubes cooked in erachi kootu (a blend of spices). This was a mild coconutty dish with quite a few lamb chunks in there – quite tasty and lovely with the paratha we ordered.
As there was a strong fishy presence on the menu, I also opted for the Kerala fish curry (£6.50), with lots of coconut milk and kerala cocum. We were totally swooning over this one – creamy and coconutty and wonderfully flavoured and spicy. The bowl was licked clean.
For sides, we first ordered a neai choru (£3.00), rice with onion, spices, bay leaves, garam masala, cashewnuts, sultanas and ghee. And boy, did we taste that ghee – this was some fantastic rice.
I had to have an appam (£1.75), a fermented crispy-edged, soft-centred pancake with coconut milk. It was so nice we had it twice to sop up both our lovely curries.
Likewise, I also had to try their Kerala paratha (£1.75), a Keralan delicacy, so says the menu. This was the closest thing I’d had to a Malaysian/Indian roti canai (which really reflects how most Indian food in Malaysia is from the south – they are mostly Tamils); it was gorgeously flaky.
For dessert, we shared a pistachio kulfi (£1.90) – as good as any I’ve ever had. But really, I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad kulfi…
We also had an ada pradhaman(£3.50) – a hot sweet dish of flat rice flakes (This was in our case; other bases are also used), coconut milk, jaggery, raisins and cashews. This piping hot mixture was extremely sweet but quite comforting. This took our stomachs over that edge between comfortably and uncomfortably full.
And once again, I had to roll back home after I’d overeaten yet again at an Indian restaurant. Big surprise then.
206 King Street
London W6 0RA