I have just returned from 2 and a half wonderful weeks in London visiting family and friends where I literally ate like a Queen.
Without doubt however, the best meal I had over the holidays was at Amaya in Belgravia – a modern Michelin starred Indian restaurant with a beautifully composed menu. What strikes you first is how the menu is laid out. Dishes are ordered in what will arrive first, those which take a little longer than slower cooked plates. Imagine Indian tapas – choose from each section plus a side or two.
There were 4 of us and we ate wild venison kebab, tandoori Osso Bucco (my favourite, we ordered a second after the meal had finished!), their signature black pepper chicken, paneer kebabs which were just excellent and melted in your mouth, grilled aubergine and naan. Everything had a depth of flavour without overwhelming the palate. The service was impeccable too.
My only negative would be seating times. These are set at 7pm and 9.15pm. We had the later slot and although we arrived a little early, we were only seated at 9.30pm. I appreciate tables can run over but we were pretty hungry by then.
The London Food Scene
The London food scene is said by some to be the best in the world. If you take a look at TripAdvisor, London has close to 18,000 eating establishments. Compare that to a mere 1,608 in Zurich where the choice available is clear.
Rumour has it drone food delivery services are about to hit London. Imagine your chilli lobster from Burger & Lobster in Soho or divine sushi from Yashin landing on your doorstep -no human or money exchanging hands. Heaven or Hell?
Ever tried a maxed out milkshake? Le Freakshaker goodies will give you the ultimate sugar rush.
Consider the rise in faux meat, mheat (sic) without the meat. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian restaurants to choose from but you don’t need to be singled out. Most places will now cater to your needs. Check out Andina for their artichokes hearts, choclo corn, rocoto chilli cream and peanuts. The first vegan butcher opened in the USA this January whereas Sgaia in the UK has already a superb online mheat store.
Watch out for TACOS, they are the next big thing. They are everywhere, the UK, Australia and the US. In Melbourne, Hotel Jesus has the most amazing offerings and in London the team behind Barrafina has launched El Pastor. Tacos start at 2.50 pounds. On my list next time I visit!
Trends will come and go but staples like Veeraswamy, Amaya’s sister will remain. At 90 years old, it too just won a Michelin star and its longevity proves Indian cooking is part of British cuisine.
More of my favourite other London eating experiences
Kingly Street, London – this little side street off Carnaby Street offers some of the most amazing eating establishments in London. There is Jinjui which serves great Korean food, Cinnamon Soho offering fab Indian, Wright Brothers where oysters and lobster are served, Dishoom is well-known for its Indian brunches and one of my other favourite places to eat is Dehesa, the perfect spot for lunch. Part of the Saltyard group, Dehesa describes itself as a charcuterie and Spanish bar. It is small but perfectly formed!
My friend, Kristina and I met there and enjoyed their Spanish delights with a glass or two of Verdejo. We had 2 favourite dishes: cod cheeks with carrot puree, raw carrot ribbons and blood orange and beetroot carpaccio with goat’s cheese and divine little jerusalem artichoke crisps. Both were fresh, textured and visually stunning – I’m stealing the jerusalem artichoke crisp idea! Also sampled were goat cheese stuffed courgette flowers, pomegranate feather steak with butternut puree and Old Spot pork belly with cannellini beans. The latter was my least favourite.
All of that said I missed the chance to eat at Nopi, a superb Yotam Ottolenghi spot in Soho London. I have been and fell in love with the food and interior but alas ran out of time…so until next time Nopi. Also on my list for next time is Sager + Wilde.
Here are a few recipes which reflect my visit
Burrata with Blood Orange
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 as a starter)
- 1/2 burrata per person
- 2 blood oranges, peeled, depithed and sliced into segments. Ensure no white remains
- 2 tomatoes skinned, deseeded and finely diced
- A few mint and or basil leaves finely chopped
- Dressing made using olive oil, raspberry vinegar, pinch sugar, salt and pepper. Use a ratio of 3 to 1 for the oil to vinegar. Taste.
- Assemble your plate making the burrata pride of place, arrange the oranges and sprinkle with tomatoes and herbs.
- Drizzle the dressing across the plate avoiding the burrata to avoid staining it. Instead drizzle it with olive oil. Great with crostini or added hazelnuts for texture.
Pea and Potato Samosas
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 60g chopped onion
- 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
- 60g frozen peas
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- ½-¾ tsp garam masala
- 1-2 tsp dried mango powder, to taste (or use juice of 1/2 a lemon)
- salt, to taste
- splash water
- 600g potatoes, peeled, boiled until soft and crushed into large lumps
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
- packet ready-made filo pastry (Globus or Jelmoli or Turkish Stores)
- Olive oil spray
- Sesame or nigella seeds to decorate
- Heat the oil in a small pan and fry the mustard seeds until they begin to splutter.
- Add the onion and ginger until soft.
- Add the peas, stir well and add the spices, mango powder, salt and a splash of water.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the potatoes and coriander and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Cool the mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Unroll the filo and cover with a damp tea towel to avoid drying out.
- Peel off one piece and cover the rest.
- Lay the pastry sheet flat on a clean surface and spray with olive oil. Repeat for 3 layers.
- Place one rounded teaspoon of mixture in spaces along the left hadn’t side of the long side of the sheet.
- Use a knife to cut strips below each spoonful. Then fold the mixture diagonally enclosing the filling and forming a triangle.
- Keep folding in this way until you reach the end of the strip.
- Spray the outer surface with more oil. Place onto a baking sheet and cover while you make the rest of the samosas. Sprinkle over a few sesame seeds or nigella seeds if you like.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning halfway through the cooking time.
- To serve, place the samosas onto a large serving plate with a bowl full of chutney or salsa.
Al Pastor Tacos, a Matt Lane Recipe
INGREDIENTS (serves 4 as a Starter)
- 8 corn tortillas (11cm)
- 400g sliced pork shoulder
- 20g dry guajillo chilli
- 30g diced brown onion
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 60ml orange juice
- 30ml apple cider vinegar
- 20g achiote paste
- 3g dry oregano
- 3g black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- Salsa Verde
- 250g Mexican green tomatillo
- 40g green chilli
- 80g quartered brown onion
- 100ml water
- Salt to taste
- 60g diced brown onion
- half a bunch of coriander
- 60g pineapple
- 1 lime
- Boil dry guajillo chilli to hydrate them for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onion and crushed garlic.
- Drain the chilis and combine in a blender with all other ingredients.
- With your hands, rub the marinade over the pork shoulder and set aside.
- For the salsa, boil brown onions and green chilli in water for 10 minutes. Drain and blend with drained green tomatillos,
- 100ml water and salt to taste. Chill.
- Dice the brown onions and fresh pineapple.
- Roughly chop coriander and cut lime into wedges.
- In a hot frying pan, fry each slice of pork for 2 minutes on each side or until brown.
- Finely shred the pork.
- Gently warm your tortillas in a dry pan.
You are now ready to assemble your tacos!
Featured image by Map London Larder
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