Wednesday 19 December 2007

Jaipur - Albert Road, Southsea, 17/12/07

With each visit I continue to warm to Jaipur, a feeling reinforced by the cold on a dark bitter evening. The chef patron seems to have a restaurant just the right size to enable him to cook to order without losing control.

Sheek Kebabs were worth the wait. Lean mince rolled with fruity bits of red and green pepper, properly crisp on the outside. Mirchi Ka Salan too, gorgeous supple slices of Lamb in a scorching peanutty curry, chilli hot and dry tasting, like the north indian plains. Hariyali Dal - thick lentils, spinach, oozed fresh bright flavours of tomato and lemon. Portions again enough to satisfy even the heartiest appetite (my stomach is horse sized).

Our bottle of Pinot Grigio had either been in the freezer or outside, icy cold and not the right temperature but then some would say why order wine in a curry joint you silly sod!? I dispute this of course!* Anyhow it featured on a a bill for five hungry people of £79, this is value. One could almost base a visit to Portsmouth on the premise of dining at the restaurant - rather good.

Willp2328visit: 8/10
UPGRADED score: 8/10

*Aromatic or particuarly crisp clean whites, roses or full bodied fruit laden reds are good partners.

Thursday 13 December 2007

Paradise Balti - Petersfield, 12/12/07

'The Paradise isn't Paradise' said someone on Wednesday night and true enough it isn't but the place serves up flavourful food in a warm, cosy, womb like environment nonetheless.

After at least a 3 year absence there were some pre dinner nerves - how would they cope with the descending revellers from the Petersfield curry club?

In the event, as is so often the case, everything went smoothly. We ate well enough, although there were few too many chicken curries, flesh with a strange smoky flavour and smooth rubbery texture resembling processed meat. Balti Chicken, Chicken Korai and Jalfrezi all made from the same stock sauce were just about discernable. The Balti slightly more aromatic than the Korai in turn more tomatoey, less hot than a Jalfrezi, buzzing with butter, chilli resin, salt and heady coriander. The Vindaloo was very good, pleasantly sour possessing a dryish rasp but the best dishes were Tarka Dall and excellent Mushroom rice with fried egg. Bhindi much cleaner (less oil) than previous, Saag Aloo and mix veg curry enjoyable too. Soft doughy Naans - Peshwari, gently sweetened by almond flour and Garlic, could have been sharper - filled us up further.

All in all, reasonable formula curry.

willp2328visit: 6/10

Saturday 8 December 2007

Madhuban - Liss, 7/12/07

Whether it was extra orange zest in the breakfast marmalade or excess carbs from another end of week visit to the Madhuban I cannot say but I felt fleet of foot during the Saturday morning run. Suppose it could have been the fact I had a relatively light meal. Tikka to start and finish (no dessert – I’ve got a box of novelty toys and ‘highly decorated’ ice cream pots in the loft. Besides if I have too much ice cream my brain freezes like Sylvester Stallones).

Lamb tikka to start was okay, a little gristly perhaps. Then Darjeeling Chicken Tikka looked superb, each nugget encrusted in a resplendent olive green herb paste but tasted similar to Chicken Tikka. Not a bad thing but I’d hoped for a difference. There was a mixed vegetable curry – Neramishee Marareesh – a bit of a mouthful to say and eat, cloying, voluptuously flavoursome as well and a bottle of aromatic german white wine with a soft lychee finish at 9.95 concluding things satisfactorily.

Willp2328visit: 6/10

Mirchi - Albert Road, Southsea

The PLACE is new. According to the takeaway menu it was ‘newly opened on 13 November’. According to the waiter they’ve been up and running 10 weeks. Do the Maths and you'll realise you've two different answers.

As well as this fact or fiction we were told about start out offers. Free poppadoms with every main meal, complementary bottles of wine if you spend so much, percentage discounts and…a Holiday give away for two! I’d have enjoyed a 2 week break in the part of Bangladesh that’s not flooded except one had to be a party of 4 to claim (search me?).

More’s the pity, SERVICE was hospitable enough to make such a trip seem quite attractive. Perhaps a little pushy – pickles with this, that, sauces? ‘What Sauces’? ‘Erm, Mango Chutney…’ ‘No thanks we’re fine’ – but they’re keen to pay back that business loan fast. On early evidence, if word gets around, they will and without having to offer vacations to undisclosed destinations as the PRICES sit a little higher than the norm and the FOOD pretty much succeeded on all levels.

To begin fresh crab (clue = a fragment of shell) blended into a well balanced paste folded inside a sour, zesty lime peel stuffed fried bread. To follow Mirchi Dhansak. Properly hot with ripe green and red chillies giving thick lentil sauce – in turns bitter with twist of lemon, grainily sugary and peppery with mint – real piquancy. Meanwhile the tender morsels of lamb were marbled with enough fat to give extra flavour to the meat. Aubergine was stewy, bit average but always best match. As was a mound of pilau rice, rich, buttery and perfumed with cardamom. Dave chose a super svelte Padina in a runny creamy sauce distinctly flavoured with almond and mint, once again a rare multi dimensional mild curry.

In SUMMARY the dishes were colourful, well presented, came in large quantities and were packed with flavour. Ideal. No wonder Mirchi’s efforts left us feeling rather pleased.

Willp2328 score: 7.5/10

Sunday 2 December 2007

December meeting - Paradise, Petersfield

The table is booked! Our last meeting of 2007 will be at Paradise Balti on December 12th. Aperitifs will be at Foggys.

As Christmas is coming, you may like to visit our Amazon shop and check out our Curry book recommendations. Just click the link on the right.


The more I think about it, the more I think we were badly ripped off at Saaki for our November 2007 meeting.
I suspect:
1) there was no qualified cook
2) they didn't even bother to go shopping before our visit

2) it appeared that we were served scraps - whatever was in the cupboard
1) even an amateur cook could have done better

And finally - the fact that the locals have obviously voted with their feet - not a single takeaway was collected and not one other person came to the 'restaurant' while we were there...

Saturday 1 December 2007

Madhuban - Liss, 30/11/07

A bustling Friday evening, the restaurant was full, no one put off by the torrential downpour outside (why would they be, the place is watertight!). The staff were a brisk, not in the mood for concessions. No Aloo Chat, ‘not on Friday night’ , no time to digest pickles and dips before they were whisked away – to another table (naughty naughty).

After a wait food arrived and everything was more or less spot on. Bents, born and raised a veggie, full of nut roasts and bovril pronounced Madhuban's Chicken Tikka starter the ‘best’ meat he’d eaten and he’s been eating lots recently. Three times in a month including a steak! Dense flesh in customary charred cheesy yoghurt coating it was worthy of his praise. He may well have looked avariciously at the Methi Chicken I had next. Wet, buttery with an abundance of fenugreek imprating a gentle bitterness and a strong tea like taste augmented by ground coriander. We shared a lovely Mutter Paneer (sic), peas and textured curd cheese in a rich almond cream sauce, earthy sweet with cumin powder and a Bhindi Bhajee. There was plenty of richly aromatic pilau rice and a 17 quid bottle of steely Chablis to wash it down.

willp23328visit: 7/10