We don’t often have Indian takeaways. Growing up we ate Indian food at least twice a week and mum is an awesome cook so it was good stuff. In university I always ordered a korma on our inevitable trip to Panama after med club. I don’t know why, I think it’s because it’s a bit sweet and nothing like Indian food that I’d ever eaten so it never let me down. I’ve never been a fan of a takeaway where they just make the sauce look different but essentially it’s the same meal in different hues of brown. Lots of Indian restaurants in this country are actually of Bangladeshi origin. Whatever country you’re from, you haven’t eaten Indian food until you’ve eaten it in the bosom of an Indian family. You are also likely to find (depending on the generation ) a metal drinking vessel in the cupboard and something covered in plastic – seating/table/remote control..
Cooking this sort of food at home can take some preparation and I think you need a good teacher. Mother is currently writing down some of her recipes, they don’t seem to have any measurements and all the questions are met with the answers “you’ll just know” or “you’ll be able to smell when the time is right”. Great.
If you can’t get a physical person to watch then Anjum Anand’s books are really excellent. Authentic tasting, healthy Indian food that really isn’t that complicated after all. Check them out. For all you vegetable loving, protein obsessed gym lovers, there is lots of stuff to eat and those who like to indulge in a special weekend meal can conjure up a treat. The first time Kate cooked for my mum she adapted Anjum’ s Goan Prawn recipe and made it with chicken thighs instead- cocky some might say, I don’t think she even realised what she was attempting until half way through the process. Mum said and I quote “ Kate, this is the best homemade chicken curry I’ve ever eaten”. Flip.
This is mother.
Recently in Cardiff, there has been a proliferation of high end South Indian restaurants and takeaways. Places you can get your dosa and idli on. My Indian palate is very Northern. Specifically it’s very Bengali, so the food is entirely different to what I have grown up with.
Madras In Wales is on City Road in Cardiff. The menu has got a few things on it that you might want to see on an Indian takeaway menu- a channa masala, chicken jalfrezi but what’s really exciting is all the other stuff. The starter section of the menu is my go to place to decide if I want to try a new takeaway or not. This menu had dosas and fish frys and chilli paneer. Exciting stuff, forget your chicken tikka masala starter.
We started with the aloo chaat papdi . They are described on the menu as “Mini flour Vol-Vu-Vonts topped with yoghurt & tamarind”. I think this does them a bit of a disservice. The casing, which is bite sized and filled with spiced potato and then topped with a fab sour tamarind water, is crunchy and hard not flaky and it serves as a great vehicle for the filling. Really moreish and a great palate piquer. You not only get sweet, salty and sour but texture changes too – fulfilling all of your mouth watering needs.
We moved on to the paneer manchurian, fish masala and butter chicken (just CANNOT break that habit).
I’d never eaten paneer prepared like this before but loved it. The sauce was glossy; it coated the lightly battered, soft pillows of paneer and lifted the cheese to a sticky sweet and sour-esque little place of loveliness. I like tangy. I could imagine some spare ribs in the same sauce. I’d definitely have it again, they were right up my street.
The next two dishes were less exciting but good versions of what they should be. I thought the fish in the masala was a bit too soft and could have been of a slightly sturdier white flesh that would stand up to the cooking process. Kate thought it was lovely – spicy and flavoursome. The butter chicken wasn’t sweet. I was sad, but probably should have gone with a pasanda…
All my pictures were rubbish.
129 City Road, Cardiff
+44 (0)29 20 094094