An exotic combination of flavours at Assado

Today I’m in the Waterloo area of London sampling the delights of a new food fusion. Goan and Portuguese at Assado. First a bit of history.

Portuguese explorers sailed the world in the 15th and 16th centuries, discovering and mapping the coasts of Asia, Africa and Brazil. I can remember the exotic-sounding names of Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan from early history lessons. It’s said that they were the first to experiment with spices like cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. They shared their discoveries with other Europeans and are also believed to have influenced the local cuisines of countries they explored.

Assado means roast in Portuguese, and the restaurant is the brainchild of Indian chef Cyrus Todiwala. Cyrus was born in India and moved to the UK to open up his first restaurant, the acclaimed Cafe Spice Namaste. Assado opened just over a year ago. The menu makes for fascinating reading. Not only are there Portuguese influences, it has a touch of Britishness too.

There’s a good selection of street food to get started with. We opted for the prawn rissoles – diced prawns simmered in a rich veloute, rolled in pastry and crumbs, fried and served with goats cheese mayo, I know, not your usual Indian fare. Fresh prawns in a beautifully creamy sauce, wrapped in crispiness and served with mayo heaven. Seriously, goats cheese mayo is the way to go. Who’d have thought?

rissoles

Deliciously delicate prawn parcels with marvellous mayo

Next up, croquettes. One of my favourite morsels, I eat croquettes liberally in Spanish restaurants so was interested to try this Indian take. They were filled with curried beef mince and served with garlic mayonnaise. A beautiful balance of spices and the most perfectly crunchy outside…and more delicious mayo. Assado dished up some of the best mayo I’ve tasted in a long time!

croquettes

A spicy take on beef croquettes

Choosing mains was difficult as there were several intriguing options. The lamb xacutti was described as being probably the most complicated of Goan curries with complex flavours from 21 ingredients. It had that lovely depth and roundness that only the exact combination of Indian spices can produce. Delightful.

lamb

It takes a lot of ingredients to make a lamb xacutti

I always have to sample the naan when I visit an Indian restaurant for the first time. Today’s garlic naan had the added flavours of chilli and fresh coriander. Light and spicy.

naan

A basket of naan always makes me happy

I opted for the fish recheado. Sea bass fillets infused with Goan red masala, flavoured with tamarind and rushed shrimps. Two plump fillets arrived, smothered in a delight of spiciness. It’s so hard to get the balance of spice right to avoid flavours overwhelming the fish (when I’m cooking, anyway) and this was a triumph. The sweetness of the fish came shining through, perfectly complemented by the sauce. The fish was served with spicy little potatoes and was melt-in-the-mouth soft.

fish

Saucy sea bass that’s perfectly prepared

Portions were generous (and good value, too) so sadly we had no room for dessert today. But I really must go back. There’s a delicious-sounding pork belly dish that must warrant a taster, Assadi fish and chips – mildly spiced – and a slow-roast rotisserie chicken to consider. I’m loving this fusion combination.

Assado is at 157 Waterloo Road. It also does takeaways at its Grab and Go counter.

Recipes: Cooking with lamb

I love cooking with lamb, it’s such a flavoursome meat and as there are so many cuts it’s extremely versatile – you can create some really imaginative dishes.

I recently went to taste some lovely lamb creations at Cyrus Todiwala’s Spice Namaste restaurant which is only a short walk from the magnificent Tower of London. Celebrity chef Cyrus talks with passion about the lamb he cooks with and when you taste his food, you can feel the love.

So I thought I had to  share the recipes with you – they are simple to make and will be a great addition to your weekly menu. Enjoy

Blue cheese stuffed lamb burger

Makes 6 burgers

BlueCheeseStuffedLambBurger (1)

Succulent burgers stuffed with cheese

 

675g lamb mince

1 finely chopped medium onion

2-3 cloves minced garlic

1 x 2inch piece minced fresh ginger

1 slender type minced green chilli (seeds included)

1 tbsp ground cumin powder

1½ tbsp ground coriander powder

2 tbsp tomato purée

3 heaped tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp Garam Masala powder

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp crushed black pepper

For the stuffing

150g blue cheese, crumbled

2 finely chopped green chillies

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

2 finely chopped cloves of garlic

Rolls or bread, to serve

In a large bowl gently mix all the burger ingredients together.  Divide into 6 evenly–sized burgers.

In a small bowl blend the stuffing ingredients together and shape into equal-sized balls to stuff the burgers.

Make an indentation in the centre of each burger with your thumb and fill with a ball of the cheese. Make sure the cheese is completely encased when you form the burger.

Cook on a prepared grill or barbecue for 6-8 minutes on each side or until any meat juices run clear.

Serve with your favourite bread or rolls with some sliced tomatoes, onion and lettuce and some relish.

Lamb in chilli, garlic and cinnamon

Serves 6

DicedLambwithChilliGarlicCinnamon2

Beautifully tender and spicy lamb

675g lamb leg, shoulder or neck fillet, cut into 1 inch/2.5cm cubes

5-6 whole red chillies, broken into pieces

1tbsp coriander seeds

1tsp cumin seeds

1 x 2-3inch piece cinnamon stick or cassia bark, broken into pieces

1 x 3inch piece ginger, finely crushed

6 garlic cloves, finely crushed

½tsp ground black pepper

2-3tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

1tsp salt, to taste

Freshly chopped coriander, to garnish

In a small pan dry roast the spices for a few minutes until they give off a great aroma and become crisp. They will change colour but do not allow to burn. Cool and crush to as near a powder as you can get.

Transfer the spices to a blender or liquidiser with the ginger, garlic and oil then blend to form a smooth paste.  You may need to add 1-2tbsp cold water too.

Spoon into a large bowl, add the lamb and coat in the masala, transfer to a sealable container and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Either thread the cubes onto small kebab skewers (if using wooden ones soak in warm water for 20 minutes) and cook under a preheated grill or prepared barbecue for 6-8 minutes on each side Garnish with coriander and serve with a cooling raita.

More great lamb ideas coming soon to www.tastyeasylamb.co.uk