Monday, 28 October 2013

Sheesh Mahal - Bradford

As my recent Blogs account, actual, real, Bradford Curry has been a bit thin on the ground for me lately - and I am The Bradford Curry Blogger??  This seriously needed addressing so,  with a hunger for some serious Bradford Curry action, I recruited the long suffering Big Tone and made a date at the excellent Sheesh Mahal.

With much excitement, I opted for the Mutton Dhansak - a dish I regarded as 'the best Dhansak I'd ever had' (here) - was teamed with rotis.  Big Tone went for Mutton Rogan Josh with chapattis (bread is included as is with many places in Bradford).  We shared Onion Bhajis.

A couple of complimentary poppadoms with some yogurt sauce and lime pickle soon arrived with a jug of water.  The Onion Bhajis soon followed.  Now, Sheesh Mahals Onion Bhajis are not my favorite version served in Bradford, but they are still good.  More thin and crispy batter coating quite large chunks of onion.  They are quite plain tasting to be honest but good textually, and when accompanied with the included pickles make for a good starter.

To the Dhansak - supposedly the 'best I have ever tasted'... but not today I'm afraid to say.  a bit bland on this occasion.  Still thick with plenty of meat, but lacked a touch of seasoning and heat, but was sweet.  Just lacked a bit of balance.  It leached a little oil too, witch is unusual for the mighty Sheesh??  Just a little off day for some reason?

Big Tones Rogan Josh was proper Sheesh Mahal fodder and seemed very tasty from the little I sampled.  So not all was lost.  Still a very very good curry eating experience.

Shish Mahal on Urbanspoon

Bundobust Stalking

Bundobust are getting themselves about a bit and getting their name out there.  Latest news seems to be that they are hoping to be open before Christmas somewhere down by Leeds Train Station.

However, today it's another Pop Up to celebrate the opening of the new music venue in the city - Belgrave Music Hall.  Billed as more of an evening do, with bands and several food stalls booked for a bit of a street festival, it did seem a it quiet when Izzy and me rocked up mid afternoon.  Thankfully Bundobust were ready to roll, and Masala Dosa was on the menu today.

Yip Skip Jump - one of my all time favorite dishes.  Vege, of course, masala wrapped in a crispy Dosa, made from a slightly fermented batter.  It's a great dish.  Bundobusts (as with Prashads) Dosa is fantastic. The Dosa  is slightly sour tasting, thin and crispy.  The Masala is perfectly seasoned and spiced.  Not too hot, but the thin sauce/soup (sambar??) ladled over the top packed a bit of a wallop.  All was cooled y a little coconut chutney over the top and a few herbs.

All was soon finished off, and because not much else seemed to about to kick off anytime soon, we wandered off.  Until next time...

Good times in Leeds are just around the corner.  I can't wait.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Cabin Caribbean Cuisine - Leeds

Well great stuff.  A quick Google search revealed this little place - Cabin Caribbean Cuisine - to be just up the road from my work.  Amazing what crops up sometimes - I never knew it was there.  And remember my old adage for not only curry based Leeds fodder, but also from my experience, most Leeds based fodder options - when in Leeds go Caribbean.  Although getting better recently, Leeds is still awash with chain/franchise eateries and, for me, generally offers little dinning interest.  However, a few miles north of the city centre, in the Chapeltown and Harehills areas, Leeds becomes alive with the sounds and smells of the Caribbean, and a number of such establishments exist. 

No kebabs/burgers/pizzas here.  Just
Caribbean classics.  Pumping tunes and a
BBQ outside too!
I am actually happier than I look.  Always a
bit weird sitting and eating alone and
photographing yourself!  I'm not a weirdo
I promise.

This small cafe is perhaps a little bit more take away than proper sit in kind of place, but there was a single table with four seats, and a small bar with stools around the window.  The table was presented with a table cloth and a few condiments, so felt fairly civilised.

Curry Goat, it just had to be.  £5 for a small portion (£6.50 for a big, but to be honest the small was massive), and served with rice, Rice and Peas or Hard Food(??).  The dish promptly arrived, and slightly took my breath away with it's size!

The classic Curry Goat with Rice and Peas.
Great flavour from the curry itself.  The goat was 'on the bone' but had been cooked to such an extent it had come away.  The goat was fantasticly meaty in flavour and high quality.  It melted in the mouth and had little to no grisly bits.  Lovely.  The sauce was of fairly thin consistency which mixed well with the Rice and Peas, and had chunky potato and carrot added also.  Spice wise it was just right.  Not too hot and had the lovely undercurrent of the mellow coconut milk to keep everything in check.  Hot clilli sauce was a table dwelling condiment if the need to spice things further was deemed appropriate - it wasn't on this occasion.  The Rice and Peas, were good too.  Perhaps a little on the salty side but once all mixed up, this was not an issue.

A great little place and is going to be a regular from now on I can tell you.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bradford Curry Crowned Best in the Country

Bradford - Curry Capital of Great Britain 2013.

Photo courtesy of Akbar's

Congratulations to Bradford who have, for the third year on the bounce, been crowned Curry Capital of Great Britain.

Apparently a close competition this year with Bradford narrowly pipping the excellent Glasgow to second place.  Wolverhampton completed the podium.

Well done to all involved.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Prince of India - Peebles

We ride... AGAIN... So we can eat MORE curry
I'll set the scene - A weekend mountain biking in the Scottish Boarders, and two very hungry Bradford Curry loving Brothers stumble into Peebles looking for a few cheeky pints and a curry.  The pints came without problem, but soon the rumbling tummies could no longer be quashed with Guinness, and the inevitable curry time beckoned.

Having been to Peebles cycling before I was aware of the end of the High Street sited Prince of India, and had indeed dined there previously.  I remember being pleased with my meal, and was the obvious place to head on this evening too. To be honest I'm not sure Peebles even has another sit down curry restaurant? We weren't prepared to look!

We entered a modestly sized but bustling restaurant - I think we were lucky to get a table.  However, it was getting late, and the punters soon thinned.  Immediately, BOOM... straight facing the door, we spotted a framed certificate declaring The Prince of India to be the winner of Restaurant of the Year at the Scottish Curry Awards 2013*.   WOW!  We'd we'd dropped on here - this was going to be interesting...  Two of Bradford's greatest curry eating aficionados pop out in Peebles for a swift curry, and end up in an award winning restaurant! Hmmm...  but how would it compare to Bradford, and more importantly Shimal Spice - Winner of Best in Yorkshire and Best in England too at England's equivalent awards ceremony?    

The menu was comprehensive and included many of the familiar dishes we know and love, along with mouthwatering Specials etc.  However, it was the prices that immediately caught the eye, and brought the proverbial tear forth to us short armed/deep pocketed Yorkshire men.  I've noticed in the past that curry in Scotland seems comparatively dear, and  I think the Prince of India is generally in line with this mark up.  

Ben and framed Scottish Curry Awards 2013 certificate.
But, for example, non-vege starters were just short of £5, most mains just short of £10 (unless you wanted king prawns in which case £15!), chapatis £1.55 (yes £1.55! Each!) and naan about £3.50. Now, I am always going to be biased but, in our beloved Bradford, and more specifically Shimla Spice, used here for comparison only due to recently winning the same Curry Award, starters are ~£3, mains ~£7 (£10 for prawns), chapatis 50p (and remember other places in Bradford chapatis are included) and naan £2.30! 

That's a vast difference.  But lets face it, it's all academic really, and essentially nonsense!  Folk of Peebles aren't exactly going to suddenly jump in their cars and drive a special 400 mile round trip just because the curry is a little cheaper in Bradford.  So fair do's, Prince of India is dearer - but it's all relative.  But ultimately how does the food compare to the best in Bradford?

I recall for starters I had Mixed Pakura (chicken, vegetable and cauliflower) and followed it with the North Indian Chilli Garlic Chicken (sounded suitably Bradfordian), and a Garlic Naan.  Ben had Lamb Sheek Kebab and Chicken Rogan Josh, plus Chapatis.

Well, the starters were ok.  I rather enjoyed the cauliflower pakura element of my mixed dish, which was crunchy, well al dente I guess is the preferred culinary term,  and provided the perfect transport to carry the delicate spices in the batter.  Ben's kebabs passed without note I'm afraid.  Mains... the North Indian Chilli Garlic was ok to good.  It was certainly lighter in colour, looser and saucier than a Bradford curry.  It had a sharp spike of heat in what was otherwise a fairly thin tasting sauce.  Strangely, Ben's Rogan Josh was exactly the same - could've come straight out of the same pan!  Hhhhmmmm??

Prince of India probably thought they had a couple of slightly tipsy mountain bikers here and they wouldn't notice if served the same dish!  Saves dirtying two pans I suppose.  So an otherwise satisfactory meal was a little marred a little by an apparent laziness.  But who knows? Perhaps the North Indian Chilli Garlic and the Rogan Josh were just too alike - but at the same time slightly different - and we simply missed subtle differences?

Overall though it was an decent enough dining experience - but not Bradford... obviously - and next time I am in Peebles I will be back in the Prince of India like a shot. 

*This was diluted somewhat when reading more closely, because the award is regional  Prince of India was winner of the southeastern region.  No matter, it is a prestigious award non the less.  

Prince of India on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Leeds Cultural Curry Festival 2013

Lovely weather brought the crowds
Another Curry Festival!  This time in Leeds, and titled Leeds Cultural Curry Festival.  It catered for curry from around the world and included a few Thai outlets too.  Certainly varied.  Big too!  A lovely sunny day brought out the crowds and Millennium Square was stuffed.  Along with all the stalls, a stage provided cooking demo's and other entertainment such as music and dancing.  A small fair was present for the kiddies too.  A good family day out.

Bundobust Pav Bhaji
Although my best intentions were to sample some new and interesting food, the strong garlic whiff from Bundobusts Pav Bhaji pop up stall was overwhelming, and first port of call was here.  Although only a week previous I'd sampled this dish, it is so good I couldn't resist.  Bundobust is creating quite a stir about these parts - and definitely stood out from the crowd here at this festival.  I pressed again regarding any info on a venue yet but, understandably, they didn't want to give too much away.

Bundobust Pav Bhaji

Fish Pakora on Naan

Many of the other stalls were basically serving curry/kebabs on a naan - and this is what Lynda opted for.  Fish Pakora on a naan with salad.  Lynda is well through a pregnancy at the moment, so fancied something mild and not too demading. Her choice fitted the bill.  The fish was mildly battered and the salad and dressing were refreshing.  The naan was fresh, fluffy and warm. It was noted that many of the outlets had portable tandor ovens and were cooking naans fresh.  Very impressive.

Loads of curry everywhere you looked!
Later in the afternoon, once our initial meals had settled, we decided to share a second curry!  We liked the look of this stall (here on the right) and went for the dish simply entitled Meat Masala - on a naan of course.  It was ok - middle of the road and nothing special.  The stall certainly looked the part with the large hot plates all piled high with curry, but seemingly catering for a mass market - and who can blame them.  The Meat Masala didn't set my taste buts alight, and if I had had room for a third curry of the day would have gone elsewhere.

The Leeds Cultural Curry Festival 2013 offered a great family day out.  My only gripe is the same as with the Bradford Festival a few weeks ago, and that is that most of the meals were in the £5-£7 bracket, and offered a substantial meal.  Good value, but one is enough!  I'd personally like to trawl a good few stalls sampling bits and bobs at a reduced price en route.  Also, rather than everyone just serving curry/kebab on a naan, perhaps some more of this would be good?