Thursday, 24 November 2011

FD OUT - Gifto's Lahore Karahi, Southall

I'd been to Gifto's once before about 5 years back, tagging along on a business trip with my dad and I didn't find the food matching the amazing atmosphere that comes with being a proper Indian curry institution in London. I'd always thought much more highly of nearby Amjad Karahi, our family staple a few doors down...always less packed full of people but more than compensated by the excellent, authentic Pakistani curry dishes.

So it was with some trepidation that we returned to Gifto's. The first thing that sprang to mind was that the decor had undergone a pretty major overhaul. Gone were the old skool, round, white clothed tables favoured by most traditional Indian/Chinese restaurants, in were new, snazzy long tables (it's the trendy thing these days, y'know) with booths either side.

On to the food.

This visit was a major improvement on the last. We first ordered a mixed grill platter, consisting of lamb chops, seekh kebab, diced lamb and chicken tikka. All were excellent, particularly the diced lamb and the chicken tikka, which were excellently spiced and succulent to taste. For me, the seekh kebab at Raavi's on Drummond Street is still the king, but this one ran it closest out of the others I've tasted in London.

Next up for me was Karahi chicken:

This was also perfectly spiced, with lots of thick strips of ginger (I'm a big fan of this in Indian cooking) and really tender chicken pieces. It was quite heavy as you can probably see from the pic, but I was really impressed with the way this dish was cooked, and I would definitely say in this case that it was superior to any I've had in London before.

As an accompaniment for these dishes, we ordered some Peshwari naan. This Peshwari naan for me was just about as good as it gets! It was the highlight of the meal for was just perfectly sweet with the taste of the various nuts (especially the pistachio) coming through beautifully over the warm, buttered bread. Amazing!

Mrs Mowgli had the butter chicken:

You can just about see the massive lump of butter melting into the dish...a nice touch I thought, definitely sets the tone for the rich, creamy curry that followed. This butter chicken was good, but I found that it didn't have enough tomato flavour in it, compared to the dishes that you find in India (particularly in Moti Mahal and Punjabi by Nature) or in Khan's in Bayswater, which is the best butter chicken in London in my book.

The other dish that I did try was my mum's Methi (Fenugreek) chicken, which was again really tasty. It was a shame that we didn't get to try any of the vegetarian dishes. Those dishes were the dishes that really shone at nearby Amjad Karahi and it would have been good to have a direct comparison. I'll just have to go back to try it again!

Finally, for dessert I had a mango kulfi, which was pretty standard out of the tub stuff. I suppose it's too much to ask for the delicious, home-made authentic kulfi's that you get in Dishoom in Covent Garden but it was still nice and refreshing to have at the end of the meal.

Overall, I really enjoyed it despite my trepidation from the previous visit. It was a huge improvement though and I would definitely go back. As it is a Southall institution it was quite loud and crowded with loads of kids running between the tables but for me this is part of the experience of eating at an Indian restaurant and I wouldn't have it any other way! This is the atmosphere that I love in Southall. Probably not great for a special occasion for two (or a business lunch!) but definitely really good for a big family outing or to introduce friends to Pakistani/Indian cooking.


Gifto's Lahore Karahi on Urbanspoon

Friday, 18 November 2011

FD OUT - Byron Burger - The Gizz-mo

It had been a long time coming to savour the Gizz-Mo after several attempts wondering aimlessly around Soho and Covent Garden one Thursday night, ridiculously refusing to wait over 15 mins, despite our adventure to several restaurants lasting over an hour, and queue time getting longer and longer to each place we went. Hind sight is such a great thing and I was not going to let this stand in my way the next day. 
Thankfully a new Byron Burger had opened up just that day in St Giles High Street, looking majestic in it’s new glass fronted abode. Being not more than 10 minutes walk from work in Torrington Place, this will be a temptation that my waist line probably won’t thank me for.
Anyway to the burger itself…..
Normally if I get a hair in my burger I’ll send it back. However, this burger with a moustache is a welcome exception. With the patty cooked medium-rare, the welsh rarebit (made from mature cheddar, smoked cheddar, english mustard, worchestershire sauce and stout) added an extra dimension to the standard byron bun sending me into a cheesy eutopia. 
It is pure melt in the mouth goodness, and could easy do a few of these a week. It’s a shame the Gizz-Mo is only on for the month of Movember, of which Byron are helping to fundraise, and giving away a free burger to anyone raising over £25 every day (well 7-20th november, but that’s good enough)
Washed down with a delightful oreo milkshake (get the extra malt!) it was well worth savouring.
Till the next time, mange tout

FD IN - Veal meatballs with mushrooms in port sauce

I thought I’d start my own posts on this page with some eating in rather than a new restaurant. Me and Ms Mowgli bought a pack of veal meatballs (500g, Waitrose) on offer and thought of doing a sort of German spin on it inspired by a recent trip to the Black Forest. We ate the dish with Spaetzle, which are a kind of noodles commonly eaten in Germany:
- The spaetzle (150g/person roughly) was first placed in salted, boiling water. It was then cooked according to a Google translation (German->English!) of the instructions. We boiled it for 8 minutes before allowing it to rest in hot, non-boiling water for a further 8 minutes before being coated with unsalted butter.
- Whilst the spaetzle was boiling, we fried the meatballs in a ”healthy” dose of melted butter (I guess 2-3 tbsp of olive oil would be ''acceptable'' too, but the butter makes it taste so good!) over a low/medium heat in a frying pan until the meatballs were browned and just start to caramelize. The meatballs were then kept in a bowl with some kitchen paper on top (to soak up the excess butter…I could eat that paper on its’ own!).

- We then fried a pack of white button mushrooms in the juices and butter leftover from the meat. Once they started to soften, the mushrooms were then seasoned with salt and pepper (I like to add quite a lot of pepper here because I think it spices up the veal nicely). I used to be more of a mushroom snob but then Ms Mowgli showed me the error of my ways with an amazing garlic button mushroom dish (for another post!).

- We then added about 50 ml of port (cognac would also be good, white wine would be lighter) and reduced at a medium/high heat until the liquid was reduced by half and the alcohol evaporated.

- We then added a pack of single cream. A 50:50 mixture of creme fraiche/double cream could be added for a more gallic flavour, but I prefer the single cream as it is a bit lighter. Creme fraiche does give a sour note which nicely balances out the sweetness of the port though so it’s excellent too.

- Finally we added some roughly torn, fresh flat leaf parsley to finish the dish. We then allowed the dish to simmer for a couple of minutes and served with the spaetzle!