Friday 28 September 2007

Gurkha Chautari - Liphook

The PLACE is a hop, skip and jump from the Railway station or a hundred yard dash up the road from the Links (we did neither). There's a cosy dining room, comfy cushioned chairs. Self effacing vibe though regimental shields above the bar reflect quiet pride of men formerly of the 10th Gurkha Rifles. SERVICE honest, hard working and never, never intruded.PRICES aren't in the least bit off putting either. Starters (sittan!) most £3.50, mains (mukhya khana!!) £c7, veg £3-4 (tarkari!), sundries (ko parikar!!) £2-3. Only distraction, 'Riders On The Storm', 'Stairway to Heaven', 'Sultans of Swing', most welcome.

Anticipated fine FOOD and so it came to pass. Sittan comprised Aloo Chops, mustardy mash potato cakes. Momo, spicy pork mince in slippery steamed pastry. Kalejo, chicken livers, deep, rich, oniony chives and fenugreek giving a lingering bittersweet relish. Excellent Salmon Tikka melted in the mouth.Proceeding this rather fab foursome were a medium hot chicken curry not disimilar to Korai/Jalfrezi with a buttery pang. Gurkha Khasi, orbs of Lamb in a delicate oriental caramel sauce, slivers of onion, tomato, squares of green pepper. Crispy Duck, in an orange marmelade with a sourness imparted from pickled ginger as well as a brilliant charcoal orange Chicken Tikka.And the vegetables were luscious. Kurilo, turns out were Asparagus tips, ripe, sweet, tossed with toasty cumin seeds. Bhanta, Aubergine gently sauteed, salted, still firm and Aloo Tama Bodi, a great blend of textures.Overall a fabulous evening was enjoyed and what better note to end on than Pink Floyds 1975 magnum opus 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'?!

...Except this wasn’t the end of the affair. Met there with Rowly, an old school friend, discussed a great sporting weekend. England 3 Israel 0 (Israel have a centre back who’s also a pop star). England 4 India 3 in the ODI series (the Indian wicket keeper is married to a pop star) and England 28 USA 10 (no pop stars on show here – the England players aren’t popular because they’ve no star quality and no one’s ever heard of the American amateurs they toiled against).A la carte Chicken Livers. Good flavour though occasional mouthful a little too bitter. Then supremely textured clay oven Chicken in a wonderful sour yoghurt marinade that married hot green chillies with keen peppery mint. Vegetables shared, exquisite Aloo Tama Bodi (see above) and Spinach stir fried in the oriental style with vegetable oil, soft white slivers of onion and beansprout. A lovely end to a warm, fresh sunny evening that began with drinks in the Links.

...Golf as ever a welcome topic of conversation over dinner at the Gurkha with Godfather John Carter Thursday 27th September. Is Tiger Woods the greatest sportsman of all time? Certainly looks the part, his chest and biceps are real and yes he really is a golfer (just hope he keeps his cap on – he ages 30 years when he takes it off). As well as this poser I asked John what he was having to eat. ‘Chicken Madras, always have it’…so I had to explain that Nepalese chefs might not be so willing to churn this one out. He opted for Kursani Kurkura, Chicken in a hot sauce infused with green chillies, declared it ‘excellent’, gave a four pound tip too! From a Yorkshireman that’s as good as offering a small dowery. In fairness he also insisted on paying, so no he’s not a genuine lead wallet – been living in the south for too long.

As for me I enjoyed Bhuteko Prawns. Shrimps, fresh, honeyed and salty in a mild, thin tomato sauce obliging high notes of heady coriander leaf and sultry earthiness of cumin seed. Then a traditional Nepalese Chicken curry, wholesome and medium spiced. Very pleasant when combined with Mushrooms, lovely and slippery, tasting of root ginger and timur, kinda like Chinese five spice mix. Portions filled me perfectly, partly due to large steamed rice. House White, medium dry gave suggestion of lime and lemons.

In SUMMARY though the Menu might seem relatively succinct the cooking never comes up short. For a curry meal with an oriental twist and a classic rock sound track the Gurkha Chautari is the venue.

Willp2328 score: 8/10

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