Benares is a Michelin star restaurant, in the heart of Mayfair, serving up delicious Indian fusion dishes. Everything taste amazing. Every damn thing taste heavenly.
I love everything about this restaurant – except for the entrance process. Basically, from the moment you walk through the door, every staff you walk pass will greet you with a “namaste”, with full-on hands gesture and everything. I just didn’t know what to do, except smiling back (which they can’t see because they’re bowing their head) and saying hi. Awkward much?
Here’s the pretty dining room…
Pretty pretty pretty…
Mini poppadoms and three kinds of condiments – poppadoms tasted microwaved, rather than deep fried. Still yummy though
Amuse bouche : chickpea flour cake cube – great texture & flavour. Promising start to the meal!
Bhatti spiced lamb pasanda, smoked aubergine puree, grilled gem lettuce. THAT LAMB IS TO DIE FOR. arrrrggggghhhh so good
Oyster pakoda, with tellicherry pepper and tamarind rasam. Lovely flavour & texture combination – unfortunately, nothing is going to beat that amazing piece of grilled lamb sent straight down from heaven at this point.
Pan-roasted sea bream, aloo paliya, coconut and kokum sauce – the skin is cripsy, the flesh is tender, the potato is smooth, the sauce is perfectly flavoured. PERFECT.
Chettinad chicken supreme, leaf spinach, fennel, pepper and caramelised onion puree – chicken so moist, and look at that perfect char mark…. and the sauce…. i’m crying a little when thinking back about how perfect this dish was.
Tadka dal, basmati rice, tandoori naan
We were full… but my hubby convinced me we had room for dessert….
Gulab jamun brulee – seriously scrumptious – slices of gulab jamun lay at the bottom, covered in rich creamy custardy mixture. Perfect way to finish the meal. I would’ve licked the bowl if I was eating this at home.
Date and sticky toffee pudding, with bay leaf ice cream – pudding is sweet & sticky & rich, the ice cream has a lovely hint of bay leaf. Bay leaf ice cream? Who knew!
This recipe is adapted from two recipes from my dear friends. My hubby doesn’t normally like curries with dairy in it, but he loves this one.
The tandoori chicken is so good when it comes out of the oven you may end up eating them all before you get to curry them!
What you need:
600g chicken thigh, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp lime juice
200 g thick yogurt
1 tsp black peppercorn powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp kasoori methi
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
2 tsp red colour
2 Tbsp ginger & garlic paste
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp oil
2 bay leaves
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp garam masala
2 can 400g chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp kasoori methi
200 ml full fat milk
A pinch of sugar
Coriander leaves, finely chopped
Satay skewers, soaked in water overnight
How to put this together:
Mix together salt + chilli powder + lime juice. Marinade chicken for 15 mins
Mix together tandoori mix (except for oil). Coat chicken well. Drizzle with oil. Mix again. Marinade overnight.
Heat oven on grill at 270C. Line a baking tray with tin foil.
Skewer chicken pieces, leaving behind excess marinade. Using the tray height, arrange the skewers so that they are elevated. This will allow for the chicken to grill, rather than boil in their own juices.
Grill (close to top heat) for 10 mins. You want slightly charred bits on the chicken, for added flavour.
Turn over, grill the other side for 10 mins. Pour chicken juice (collected in the tray) into excess marinade
Add green chillies + ginger + turmeric powder + hing. Fry until fragrant.
Add moong dal + water + onion mixture to pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 5 minutes. The consistency should be like a thin pumpkin soup
Add garam masala powder + crushed kasuri methi. Mix with hand whisk.
Season with salt. Taste
Take off heat. Add coriander leaves, mix well.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil on low flame in a small pan.
Add cumin seeds + dry whole red chillies + garlic. Fry until the cumin seeds crackle, the garlic brown, and the chillies change colour. Be patient, don’t increase the heat – you don’t want to burn them.
Add curry leaves, fry for a few seconds
Add red chilli powder. Mix well and turn off heat.
Serve dal in a bowl topped with tadka. Serve with basmati rice
Waiter: “That’s good to hear. How did you find out about us?”
Us: “We googled ‘best Indian restaurants in London'”
Waiter: (laughs) “Were we number one on the list?”
Us: “Nope, but you should be”
Their food & service really are one of the best we’ve had.
I cannot recommend this place enough.
From their website:
Tamarind of Mayfair is the first Indian restaurant in the world to have been recognised with a Michelin star and it remains as one of only nine to hold the accolade.
Tamarind’s dishes are derived from traditional Moghul cuisine where fish, meat and game are cooked in the authentic tandoor oven style of North West India. At Tamarind of Mayfair food philosophy is driven by a desire to present the eclectic and expansive Indian repertoire, bursting with flavour and originality, as a multi-sensory dining experience.
Tamarind of Mayfair is situated in an elegant, gold-accented dining room in Mayfair – London’s most luxurious and glamorous district, bordered by Hyde Park, Oxford Street, Green Park and Regent Street.
Here are the dishes we tried:
Papadoms and chutneys to keep us busy while we wait for our orders
Gosht dum biryani – lamb biryani sealed with pastry lid. Fantastic flavour and presentation. I still don’t know how their rice grains are so long!
Malabar Prawn Curry – Good size tiger prawns (plenty of as well) in delicious thick curry sauce flavoured with onions, chilli, fenugreek seeds, and a whole lot of flavoursome spices
Kadhai Gosht – Tender pieces of lamb cooked with fragrant spices, including peppers, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Incredible flavour combination. Fantastic with bread.
Bread basket – a selection of naan, paratha, and stuffed naan. Yum.
Dessert platter – because the selection looks so good and we couldn’t decide on one to share. Good thing we chose this, as everything was delicious, especially the bebinca (Goan layered pudding)
Complimentary soft milk tablet, and fresh mint leaves coated with white chocolate.
Cute little surprise – goes to show how attentive they were. It was my hubby’s birthday, but I did not mention this when I made the booking. Someone must’ve seen when I handed over the birthday present. A waiter stopped me as I was going to the bathroom during the meal and asked if it was a birthday celebration. When I confirmed he said they’d have a little surprise for him. The best thing about this? Our waiter simply walked over to our table, placed this little treat on the table and wished him a happy birthday. No crowds gathering around the table singing happy birthday (which we absolutely hate). All class.
I heard so many good things about The Cinnamon Club that it spiked my expectations way way high. It started out really well, I was excited about how pretty the venue is, loved the mango mocktail we ordered, and was so delighted about the delicious starters that my hubby had to tell me to not expect too much, just in case it goes downhill. Aaaaaand then it went downhill (hmmm, come to think of it, maybe he jinxed it).
Let’s start from the top
Such a pretty restaurant – library book shelves wrap around two upper walls of this high-ceiling dining hall (this place was previously the Westminster Library). The waitress said they’re removing everything in June and will give the place a new look.
The restaurant is very easy to miss. We walked pass it and had to backtrack. They only had a small brass plate in the front. Pretty sign, but not at all obvious.
Mango Fizz – mango puree, passion fruit syrup, lemon juice, and lemonade. Very refreshing. I love fizzy fruit juice.
Amuse bouche – deep fried crumbed potato with coriander & mint chutney. Crispy on the outside, delicious spiced potato pieces on the inside. Yum. So far so good.
Starter #1 – Tandoori cod fillet with carom seed. So much flavour on such thin layer of seasoning on the cod. Served with mango puree (looks like egg yolk) and green pea relish with a hint of wasabi.
Starter #2 – Spice crusted lamb fillet. These are some super tender chunks of meat, and so much flavour from being cooked in tandoori oven. Served with smoked paprika raita (yum) and coriander chutney (yum again).
Main #1 – Char grilled free range chicken breast with mace and cardamom, served with brown rice and mint chilli korma. Korma sauce is delicious, chicken breast is a bit dry, rice is a bit pudgy, and what is up with the presentation? It looks like something you get in a tourist-trap kinda restaurant, rather than a fine dining venue.
Main #2 – Spice crusted halibut with tomato tamarind sauce. Fish is again nicely grilled, the sauce is a bit too plain for my liking. Hubby enjoyed this one though. Served with steamed basmati rice (again, the presentation) and jaggery pickle.
Side dish of stir-fry cabbage and kale with curry leaf and coconut. Quite plain, but it grew on me. Hubby said it reminded him of a dish his mum used to make at home.
They also do (what appears to be) great value set menu, and a few other more expensive tasting menus.
I had a few Indian work colleagues when we first moved to London. These lovely Indian ladies would bring their lunchboxes, and I would bring mine, and we would have lunch together everyday. It’s amazing how fun it is to bond over food.
Their lunch boxes would not contain the typical Indian food you get in the restaurants, but rather simple vegetable or meat dish. These always look fantastic and smell amazing. They would offer me some to try, and I would ooh and aah with delight, because everything tasted divine.
One day, this lady brought in something that smelled out of this world. She said her husband made this, please try some. I took a small spoonful, and I was hooked!
I told her it’s so good! They laughed, because I say this about everything (I’m easy to please when it comes to food). She said it’s called Lamb Fry.
I asked her for the recipe – and that’s when I first heard about vahchef from vahrehvah.com. He’s like the Jamie Oliver of indian cooking – he has a ton of recipe videos on youtube, and has his own website of course.
My colleague’s husband made the dish from this vahchef’s recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6mXt9hPkAI
The recipe below has been tweaked from the original to our liking:
Whole Garam Masala
4 bay leaves
4 inches cinnamon
4 green cardamom
4 black cardamom
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black cumin seeds (shajeera)
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp Ginger paste
1 Tbsp Garlic paste
1 kg Lamb (with bone), cut into chunky pieces. Alternatively use chicken thigh (with bone)
8 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp Black peppercorns
3-5 Green chillies, sliced (v. spicy Kenyan chillies)
20 Curry leaves
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup Coriande leaves, chopped
How to put this together:
Heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat, add Whole Garam Masala. Fry until fragrant.
Add 1/4 tsp cumin seeds. When it splutters add onions + turmeric powder + ginger paste + garlic paste. Fry until onions are translucent.
Add lamb or chicken. Fry until the outside is brown.
Add 1 1/2 cup water, and transfer to pressure cooker. Pressure cook until meat is tender (10 mins in my pressure cooker).
Pound together garlic + cumin seeds + peppercorn
Heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat, add mixture from previous step. Fry until fragrant.
Add green chillies + curry leaves. Fry until fragrant
Add red chilli powder + cumin powder + coriander powder. Fry until fragrant
Add meat, season with salt.
Keep cooking until you’re left with thick curry sauce.
Turn off heat. Add chopped coriander leaves + juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix well. Taste. Add more lemon juice to your liking.
Chapati, Roti, Naan, or any kind of thin bread you can get your hands on, or