Roda Viva rocks Mozambique flavours #alfama #mozambique #lisbon

Feeling a bit miserable today with a cold and dreaming about sunny Lisbon and the fantastic foods and flavours we experienced on our recent visit there.

One of our eating adventures involved finding the atmospheric Mozambican restaurant Roda Viva in a small alleyway in Beco do Mexias 11 In The Alfama.

We had visited Castelo de Sao Jorge earlier that morning enjoying stunning views across Lisbon and soaking up the history of the 11th century castle and then walked down to Beco de Mexias through winding cobblestone backstreets of Alfama. Walking down was. A great way to get a close up look at the ancient houses, trendy artisan shops and restaurants, but we definitely needed Google maps to guide us to our destination as it would be very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of streets around here.

We were warmly welcomed into the tiny narrow restaurant by the waiter/chef Octavio Chamba, a Mozambican chef and anthropologist with a passion for percussion who moved to Lisbon 10 years ago to study ethnomusicology.

We settled in and immediately ordered icy cold Mozambique 2M Mac-Mahon beer to quench our thirst after the hot walk.

Mozambique was an important strategic colony of Portugal’s acting as a layover post for Portuguese explorers on their way to India and the Far East. There is a small population of Mozambican expats but quite a few well known restaurants serving the fusion African eastern food.

We ordered traditional Capucha stew with a mixture of beef, pork, chicken sweet corn and beans and their famous crab curry which came with a hot chilli sauce on the side and rice. The meal was different and delicious. (It is the crab curry that I would like right now to fix this cold!!)

The restaurant is decorated with straw hats and traditional Mozambican fabrics and the service was warm and friendly.

A great stopover during our exploration of Lisbon and a nice way to connect with the Portuguese history of colonisation, exploration and voyaging. We continued our walk to the Port and beyond.

Benares on a budget #michelin #indianfood #london

I had read about Benares’ reputation for the best Indian food in London, laying claim to having been the first Indian restaurant in London to receive a Michelin star and it has retained this star in 2019.

Having looked at the a la carte and tasting menu prices which are whopping by Australian dollar prices, we decided the lunchtime thali menu at £33 would be a great way to taste a range of their dishes and fit into our schedule nicely.

So after visiting the special Leonardo Da Vinci Life In Drawings exhibition, commemorating 500 years since his death, at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace we sauntered through Green Park, across Picadilly to Berkeley Square were Benares occupies a prominent position between the Rolls Royce and Bentley showrooms.

Our meal started with a traditional serving of papadums and chutneys and yoghurt. The papads had obviously been made at the restaurant were a tasty, crispy nibble to begin with.

The thali came with naan and turmeric spiced rice, a crunchy quinoa salad, a fabulous piece of lightly spiced sea bass, a delicious lamb Rohan Josh, a smokey Chicken tikka Masala, very interesting spinach and baby corn curry, dhal and yoghurt. It was all more than enough for one very hungry person and certainly too much for me.

The Thali was followed by a serving of Indian steamed yoghurt pudding with rhubarb and jelly and a sprinkling of nuts, followed by a special birthday platter of petit fours.

A great way to sample the renowned Indian food from Benares on a budget.

Chilli Fagara #Hongkong #Hotspot

Chilli Fagar has probably seen better days in terms of past years when it was getting Michelin star ratings, now “only” Bib Gourmand recommendation but if you are looking for very good Szechuan cooking in Hong Kong then this is definitely a good value option.

The menu offers a range of spiciness ranging from tangy to numbing, so order with care.

The couple next to us were eating a noodle soup with fish, swimming in red chillies and a devilish looking broth.

We opted for our version of safety, ordering the dumplings in what is described as a “challenging” chilli sauce, prawns with dried chilli, the sweet and salty carmelised beef with peppers, and the sizzling eggplant.

All the dishes were delicious – spicy but not so hot to dull the individual flavours of the fresh ingredients.

The dumplings were set off by the chilli paste sauce….not too hot but with a bit of a kick. The prawns were huge and juicy, with a Szechuan salt and pepper flavour imbued by some of the heat of the decorative dried chillies they are surrounded by. The eggplant was deliciously sizzling with strands of a woody mushroom/fungus and finely cut bamboo shoots for crunch. The beef was sweet and salty and brought a nice touch of calm. We were very happy with our choices and enjoyed the crisp Italian Pinot Grigia with the meal.

If you are in the mood for a spicy, authentic Szechuan meal and don’t mind a bit of authentic old school service and a slightly fraying restaurant environment, then go here for the food, if not the rest!

Chilli Fegara, 7 Old Bailey Rd, Central, Hong Kong

#Quick Fish Curry with #Tamarind

This recipe is for my friend Jennifer who especially asked for a fish curry recipe using Tamarind and no fenugreek. The use of tamarind in fish and seafood curries is traditional in South Indian curries and adds a beautiful tangy flavour.

Tamarind has all sorts of health benefits and is rich in many nutrients. This is a good link for more info https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tamarind#section4

I keep a block of pressed tamarind handy in the fridge but sometimes use concentrate. If using pressed tamarind then slice off a thick bit and steep in boiling water and using gloves rub the skin and pulp off the seeds, the resulting mixture looks brown and murky but adds delicious flavour to the curry.

Some curries use a lot more tamarind for a dark, rich sauce but this one is quick and lighter.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 thick boneless fillets of monkfish or similar meaty white fish, cut into medium size pieces (about 500g)
1 large onion diced
2 large ripe tomatoes diced
3 cloves garlic and equal fresh ginger pound to a paste
Handful of fresh curry leaves (optional)
1/2 stick of cinnamon bark (optional)
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
2-3 fresh chillies tops sliced off, left whole (optional)
Thick “slice” of tamarind or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chilli powder depending on your taste
1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Coriander to garnish

Method

Steep tamarind in 1/2 cup boiling water whilst preparing other ingredients, or mix tamarind concentrate with 1/2 cup of boiling water and set aside.

Heat oil in heavy based pot over medium heat

Add cummin seeds, cinnamon bark, curry leaves and green chillies if using until spluttering stops.

Add onions and cook slowly over medium heat until transparent, stirring from time to time to prevent caramelisation.

(if using block tamarind ….While onions are cooking, rub tamarind to seperate and remove any seeds from mixture, strain and set aside tamarind juice. You can use the pulp as well but make sure it has no seeds left in it.)

Add ginger and garlic, mix through into onions until just heated.

Add turmeric, chilli powder and fennel powder and mix through onions, taking care not to burn spices

Immediately add tomatoes, salt and mix well, cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking to the bottom

Add the tamarind water mixture and bring to a bubble.

Add fish and another half cup of water to bring sauce up to sides of fish.

Cook for 5-8 minutes on a slow simmer until sauce is reduced and fish is cooked to your liking, turn fish during cooking so both sides are coated in sauce.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice.

This curry is delicious with Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney on the side.

Indian #Thali and Sweets at #Maya Indian Sweets, #Sydney

Indian vegetarian Thali at Maya Indian Sweets on Cleveland St, Surry Hills has been a favourite comfort food spot for our family for years. As well as the famous Indian Sweets on offer, Maya offers dhosas and Thalis.

A few weeks ago on an unseasonably chilly day, when the “kids” were visiting us from Canberra, we went for Sunday lunch.

Thali means “chain” and refer to the chain of small dishes served on a tray with rice, bread, pickle and papadums. The restaurant is primarily an Indian take-away sweet shop but eating in is cheap and cheerful.

They also have traditional Indian street food snacks such as samosas, aloo boonda, chaat and vhada as starters.

At Maya Sweets you can choose from a number of Thali versions including either a South Indian or Punjabi version…the first comes with Rasam (South Indian tamarinds and pepper water soup) and Poori bread and the second with a bean dhal and naan bread.

Both are just as satisfying the variety of vegetable curries and dhals that are on offer depends on the season. They are consistently good and very filling.

This visit we also shared the Vhada which are fluffy Urad Dhal fritters served with coconut chutney and a tangy sambar on the side which were delicious.

Finishing the meal with an Indian sweet is always tempting and there is a very wide range to choose from….but we managed to resist.

Consistently good food. Doesn’t open until midday so brunch is sadly not an option. There a number of other more formal Maya restaurants including a vegetarian restaurant next door and a non-veg across the road. So make sure you fo to the right one if you are looking for the street food and Thalis.

Maya Indian Sweets

468-472 Cleveland St

Pan-fried #Spicy #salmon fillets with #butter

I love these salmon steaks, marinated in Indian spices then pan fried in butter. A little bit naughty but a lot of nice!

Served here with a beetroot salad, Red lentil dhal https://freespiritfood.net/2015/08/16/red-lentil-tarka-dhal-with-turmeric-and-ginger/.

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

2 boneless salmon fillets, skin on
1 teaspoon ginger and garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter

Method:

1. Marinate salmon fillets with garlic, spices, salt and oil for 25-30 minutes or longer.

2. Heat non-stick pan until hot, reduce heat to medium and place salmon fillets face down in pan and fry for 4 minutes or so,until sealed and browned. Add butter to pan.

3. Flip fillets and fry skin side down until skin is crispy about 4-5 Minutes.

4. Serve immediately with butter sauce drizzled over fillets and garnished with coriander.