Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Restaurant Review: Moti Mahal, London (3rd Visit)

Toptable had an offer giving 50% off the £30 set menu at Moti Mahal so I booked it for dinner with a friend last night.

My friend arrived first and was waiting in the little seating area next to the bar. We took the bowl of spiced cashew nuts they bought over with our drinks across to the dinner table with us and made quick work of them!

On being seated we were served a complimentary amuse bouche. This was a miniature mug of pea and mint soup topped with a teeny-tiny naan bread topped itself with a little dollop of a fresh tomato chutney. The soup was delicious and warming. Lovely.

For our starter we both had Tandoor grilled salmon with honey and dill, smoked salmon and bell pepper mousse, summer berry chutney.

This came with a small pile of mixed watercress-like leaves, some green and some dark red. The grilled salmon was incredibly moist and packed with flavour. The mousse was a good contrast to that in terms of texture and taste. And who'd have thought of such a fresh and fruity chutney to go with something like salmon but it really worked.

For my main I had Country style chicken stir fry with cashewnut and curry leaf. I asked for them not to make it too hot as my main last time was slightly too hot for my tastes. This dish was perfect. I'm not sure where the "stir fry" comes into it, perhaps just the way they finish the dish before serving. It was a creamy, tomato-based curry, not disimilar in flavours to my mum's chicken curry. But the meat was incredibly tender and delicious as were the lovely cashews. Beautiful.

My friend had Kashmiri style lamb curry with turnips and fennel and again it was delicious. Very tender chunks of lamb in what I think was a yoghurt-based sauce. Very more-ish.

Served with these were two side-dishes. The first was Stir fried aubergine with sesame seed which was very nice. The second was a small dish of potato and cumin raita, also nice.

The Tandoor baked naan bread"was fantastically soft and light. I much prefer naan to rice and so does my friend so we were happy.

Dessert was an apricot tarte, vanilla ice cream which came with a salsa of extremely finely diced apple (think 1mm cubes) with a really strong appley flavour; perhaps there was an additional concentrated juice used to boost flavour.

We were the first to arrive/ be seated and service started well but, as previously, towards the end of our meal when every table was full, it proved really difficult to get service when we wanted it.

I'd add that wine by the glass was expensive for a very small measure.

But overall we enjoyed a lovely set meal which I'd describe as reasonable value at full price; excellent value on the discounted offer.


Did I say we bought a 4-5 kilo bag of carrots last weekend?

Silly me. We've used over 1.5 kilos so far (1 for the soup and another half since) and just weighed the remaining. There's just under 7 kilos left!

For £2!

At Martine's VERY cunning suggestion we're making LOTS more of the carrot and coriander soup we made recently plus some fresh bread too for the meal we're catering at Centre Parks this weekend. That'll get rid of another 1.5 kilos at least!


Saturday, 1 March 2008

Variation on Angela Nilsen's Carrot and Coriander Soup

On the way to somewhere else we passed a farm shop and popped in for a quick look. We ended up buying a huge bag of carrots for £2. I think about 4 or 5 kilos!

Coincidentally, last weekend we picked up The Ultimate Recipe Book by Angela Nilsen, featuring a rather handy Carrot and Coriander Soup recipe!

Since we also had a large bunch of coriander leftover from last weekend's Indian feast we decided to make the soup and also to try Nilsen's soda bread (to compare it to the recipe I use currently).

The soup was delicious! I absolutely loved it and Pete really liked it too.

We did adjust the recipe. As per the recipe we stripped the coriander leaves from the stems and put the stems in with the carrots, potato, stock etc. The rest we were meant to half; chopping one half to sprinkle over/ stir in to the soup after blending and blitzing the other with some olive oil into an oily paste to drizzle over the finished soup (with some single cream) once in the bowls, for presentation. Since we were freezing more than half of the soup we decided to put all the fresh coriander leaves into the soup at the blending stage giving us a beautiful greeney-orange soup rather than the bright orange one we would have got otherwise.

Ingredients (adjusted)
• 25g butter
• 1 tbsp sunflower/veg oil
• 1 medium onion
• 3 plump cloves of garlic
• 40-50g coriander, including stems
• 500g carrots
• 100g potatoes
• 1 teaspoon coriander powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1.5 pints vegetable stock

Instructions (for adjusted version)
1. Peel and dice onion
2. Peel and chop garlic
3. Peel (or just scrub for young, fresh carrots) and slice or dice carrots
4. Peel and roughly dice potatoes
5. Heat butter and oil in large pan/ stock pot.
6. Gently fry onion and garlic until soft, at least 5 minutes, probably longer.
7. Add carrots, potatoes and coriander stems (don't bother to remove leaves completely from stems, just chop off and throw in the visible stems below the leafy tops) and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Add cumin seeds and coriander powder and stir/ mix well for a minute.
9. Pour in stock, bring to boil, lower the heat and cook, covered for about half an hour until carrots and potatoes are soft.
10. Turn off heat and leave to cool for a while.
11. Once cool enough to easily handle stir in coriander leaves and blitz in blender or food processor, in batches if necessary.
12. Season to taste and serve or freeze!

Did I say GORGEOUS?! This is definitely one we'll be making again!

The soda bread was nice enough; lighter than my existing recipe since it had no oatmeal in it at all. But I think I like the oatmeal one a little more and will stick to the recipe I've already been using.