Friday 18 April 2008

Pasha - Cowplain

Pasha not to be confused with Palash a few doors down. Passing by on the London Road leading into Waterlooville, a trick of the eye convinced me I’d chosen the wrong place. ‘It said Palash not Pasha!?’, ‘Where the f***s Pasha then?’, ‘I dunno’, I protest, ‘I thought it was back there’. Well, several scrambled attempts to get hold of people with interet access to look up the restaurants number, directory inquiries etc.., and a brief recee on foot, revealed Pasha, pretty much in the same place. ‘Oh…’ – lucky I didn’t go into Palash and ask for Pasha, or even worse go into Pasha and ask for directions.

We were greeted politely by an ex employee of another local Bangladeshi. ‘I think I’ve served you before’ he said, narrowing his eyes, ‘Blue Cobra’ , I hesitated, remembering the spilt wine and broken glass of one particular visit, ‘er…yeess’.

Later he asked me for my opinion of the food. I told him I liked my Duck Korai very much. Lovely livery duck, smokey like patee in a smooth hot, tangy, sour orange gravy with great slivers of onion and red, green capsicums. Bhindi Bhajee was fine, ditto a pilau rice and Mum’s Vegetable Biryiani, presented sandcastle style with cucumber swirls bla bla bla. Prices are above average but this is a restaurant that was recently voted Top 100 in the UK at the British Curry Awards no less! Poppadoms with 5 assorted dips then a sardinious* fish puree had begun things reasonably and while I’m still to have a truly memorable puree preparation, I tend to judge places on their mains. Just as well then.

* another one for Dr Johnson to add (?)

FOOD (& DRINK): 3.5

Willp2328 rating: 7/10

Thursday 17 April 2008

The Great Curry Trail

Wed 16 Apr, 11:20 pm - 11:50 pm 30mins

1/2. The Great Curry Trail: Self confessed 'food pervert' Ravinder Bhogal goes on a quest to trace how Britain came to fall in love with Indian food. [S]

This is a must-watch programme for anyone that loves Indian food. She traces the development of the Indian restaurant in the UK from Veeraswamy's in Regent Street, via Southall (Punjabi), Brick Lane (Bengali), Birmingham's Balti Triangle (Kasmiri), Leicester's Golden Mile (Gujerati). Next week she visits Manchester, Newcastle and the home of CTM, Glasgow.

At the moment it's not listed on BBC iplayer. Maybe this is a mistake, maybe they haven't caught up, maybe they're just f***wits. Look out for any repeats and don't miss Part 2.

Monday 14 April 2008

Spice Lounge, Petersfield

Unbelievably, we hadn't been to Spice Lounge since May 2007. There's so much strong competition from the other restaurants in the area - in fact the only one we've visited twice in the last year is Gurkha Chautari in Liphook. Anyway, we didn't let them down, and a good turnout of Curry Club members enjoyed food to match, after seriously denting the kitty over aperitifs at Foggys.

Following a mixed starter of bhajis, samosas, kebab and tikka chicken, we had a great array of dishes. Chicken came as CTM, chicken chilli mossala, garlic chilli chicken, and murgh Khyber Pass; prawn dishes included zingha zafrani (tiger prawns), king prawn sag and prawn jalfrezi. Lamb dishes were achari lamb and a balti, and side dishes included chana dhal, tarka dhal, a selection of plain, keema and garlic naans.

Will missed his first Curry Club meeting in over a year, so you won't be getting one of his ratings for this meal. I thought the food OK, reliable, but not outstanding. Possibly the decision to serve so many main dishes made it less easy to perfect any of them. The only disappointment for me was the tarka dhal which seemed all thick dhal and no tarka (sizzling garlic oil on top). But as ever, we were made very welcome and we shouldn't leave it another 11 months before we go back.

Mela - Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Roughly speaking ‘Mela’ translates into Hindu as ‘festival’. Accordingly the dining room is a colourful and lively place, the busy canteen style open kitchen adding to the party atmosphere.

Zoe, Duts and I joined the Sunday evening crowd clearly enjoying good to very good indian food at truly reasonable prices. Portions are large too. Zoe and Duts ordered deep-fried white bait. Salty and lemony, enough for a main, it came in a pappad shell basket with a bright, fresh salad. I had 3 thin fillets of chicken, spicy, peppery and chilli hot.

Feeling content already, we were allowed time in between courses to chew the saturated fat*; Gordon Ramsay becoming Harry Ramsden, meeting Kate Moss (and stealing her jumper), and so on. When the main dishes came Methi Murgh was spot on, pungent with green tea tasting fengureek and slightly piquant shredded chilli. Sweet, coconutty Peshrawi Naan and lots of rich cumin rice was on hand to soak up Tarka Dahl soured with raw mango.

Noticed Charles Campion says it’s the best value place in the area (WC2 and around), he’s surely right. We were made to feel welcome for the whole evening. Slow Food = Satisfaction.

* I write this only for effect - the cooking is very clean in fact.


Willp2328 rating: 8/10

Friday 4 April 2008

The NEW Madhuban - Liss

Last Saturday evening was so busy, though there was a corner for Chris and I. Bedar Miah energetically runs front of house and he rushed to and fro, shaking hands, saluting old friends, scribbling orders, while his smiley staff of young male and female waiters served the throng. Lodue, his older brother, operated the bar, in a beige cashmere cardigan, looking every inch the well to do Asian gent.

A couple of Mango Lassis and poppadoms in, food arrived. Gorgeous Chana Aloo Chat tasting of roast garlic and tangy spices followed by creamy, rich, paprika tinged Korma Mirchiwangan. Plenty of lamb, added sweetness from beetroot and red pepper only a little cloying. Panch Mela, a buttery mixed vegetable curry and filling saffron rice too much - and not because I'd eaten all the excellent chilli and lime pickle.

The old Madhuban was my godfathers favourite Bangladeshi restaurant and we met again on Thursday. I enjoyed a good meal of Salmon Tikka, 4 pieces encrusted with red chilli tainted coating and Prawn Balichao, a genuine Goan speciality, tart, citric, reminiscent of Lime pickle and vinegar. In addition, Saag Paneer was mellow, mild and lovely.

So what of the new Madhuban (now beginning it's 21st year)? It's more roomy (despite being full to bursting on Thursday night, as it was on Saturday). It's lighter with a different kind of atmosphere, not as cosy but perhaps more convival. It has the same colourful menu, more choice (Korma Mirchiwangan, Panch Mela, Salmon Tikka and Prawn Balichao among the new additions) but higher prices (although it's still better value than other local curry houses). In SUMMARY standards haven't suffered, they may even have improved but only time and a few more gratuitous visits will decide.



Willp2328score: 8/10