Talli Joe for tasty Indian tapas

Talli Joe in Shaftesbury Avenue

Today I’m heading for Talli Joe on what I think of as the border between Soho and Covent Garden. The buzzing street called Shaftesbury Avenue. What a good place to be to try some Indian food with a difference.

The restaurant describes itself as serving Indian half plates and full drinks. It’s a stylish, modern little eatery with an intriguing menu. This one took a lot of perusing – thank goodness for the half plates idea, it gave us the chance to try more of the exciting options.

I love Indian food which means I’ve eaten it all over the world (though I haven’t been to India yet – must be remedied). Today’s interestingly different menu meant time to experiment and explore new flavours and dishes.

What’s on the menu

Lentils are usually beautifully done in Indian cuisine so the Moon daal Pahari seemed like a good place to start. The lentil fritters (described at Delhi’s favourite) came with grated radish and green chilli chutney. Flavoursome and crispy with the raw veg adding freshness and the chutney bringing a real chilli bite. A stunning vegetarian dish.

Talli Joe: lentil fritters

Lentil fritters nestle under freshly grated veg

The Kohapuri Chop is a tenderly tasty tandoori lamb chop served with a potato salad with mustard dressing.

Talli Joe: Tandoori lamb

Succulent lamb and a mustardy salad

Because they sounded so good, today we seemed to order more vegetarian dishes than usual. And the good news is that the Halve ki Mutter Kachori tasted even better than it sounded. Soft bread parcels were stuffed with a spicy pea mix and served in a butternut and potato curry.

Talli Joe: Pea and butternut

Pea-stuffed bread and a rich butternut sauce

Now this is an exciting and unusual dish. The Parsee Venison Keema Ghotala offered a richly satisfying spicy venison mince which was served with an organic egg yolk, lightly toasted sweet-flavoured bread and a side of pao (a chopped chilli and onion mix). We mixed the egg through the mince, making for an almost creamy delicacy and spread it liberally on the bread. Wow! The chefs here have certainly mastered those complex spice balances that make for the very best Indian cuisine. Every dish popped with a delightful roundness of flavours.

Talli Joe: Venison mince

A magnificent mix of spices for a fabulous mince

Talli Joe: Venison mince

Close up on the mince and yellow yolk

The Bohri Chicken was cooked with a combination of masalas and served with a pretty fenugreek flatbread. Another perfect spice blend for the melt-in-the-mouth drumsticks. Love a good Indian flatbread –  and doesn’t this look lovely with its herby greens and seeds.

Talli Joe: Bohri chicken

Spicy chicken drumsticks with fenugreek flatbread

Time for dessert – and fabulous dessert, too. The berry malai was a warm, creamy bowl of baked yogurt topped with fabulously zesty seasonal berries.

Talli Joe: baked yogurt

Sweet creaminess combined with great berry flavours

I love a bit of rose flavouring so couldn’t resist the rose-flavoured ice cream. A little glass of perfect pinkness with flavours that danced on my tongue. The perfect refreshing finish to a wonderful lunch.

Talli Joe: rose ice cream

Two tasty puds made for the perfect ending

Today’s price point

Our seven dishes cost £38.75 – really great value for delicious food.

Wine starts from £21 a bottle and there’s a good selection of spirits and cocktails.

Talli Joe is at 152-154 Shaftesbury Avenue.

Download the CAKE up and get £5 free

I used my CAKE app to book and pay at Talli Joe. A really simple and quick way to eat out in London – yes there’s an app for it. CAKE has a wide range of restaurants on its books and you can also earn credit when you eat out with plenty of chances to get a percentage of the cost of your dinner back.

Download the CAKE app now at thecakeapp.com and quote the referral code EATINGCG to get £5 credit for free and start exploring London’s wonderful restaurantland.


Top takeaways from Bombay Bicycle Chef

One of the joys of urban living (I grew up on a farm so really appreciate these joys) is the takeaway. Food someone else cooks, delivered to your door…how splendid. And we love an Indian takeaway so were delighted to discover the Bombay Bicycle Club – or Bombay Bicycle Chef as their takeaway arm is called.

Their comprehensive menu is divided into sections to make ordering easier. You get to choose from a range of starters, clay oven specials, vegetable, seafood, chicken, lamb and biriyani dishes. Delivery is guaranteed within 45 minutes – ours arrived within half an hour – with a smile. Here’s what we tucked into.

The Kebab Lamb came from the clay oven special section. Succulent cubes of lamb marinated in yogurt, herbs and medium hot spices and cooked in the clay oven.


Tasty lamb bites with a touch of spice

The Murgh Madurai is breast of chicken marinated in herbs and spices, grilled in a clay oven and cooked in a rich tomato sauce with green chilli.


Large chicken pieces in their silken sauce

The perfectly cooked, succulent king prawns in the Pathway are served in a sweet and sour sauce with curry leaves. The dish has a lovely tang to it – and I love the flavour curry leaves add.


Plenty of perfectly cooked, juicy prawns

And for our final main course choice, a classic – Chicken Jalfrezi. Tandoori chicken breast cooked with lots of chopped garlic, green chilli, peppers and curry leaves.


Chicken Jalfrezi and fluffy Pilau Rice

There’s always an amazing vegetable selection in Indian restaurants and the Gobi Sabji is lovely. Fresh cauliflower is cooked with tomato, ginger and garlic. Nicely crunchy and infused with great flavours.


Spicy vegetables complete the meal


Love the design of the delivery bags

Bags of warm popadoms arrive with little bowls of homemade mint yogurt and mango chutney.

How I love takeaways!


Warm and crispy popadoms

Today’s price point

A hearty meal for four cost £41.45 (and there were some leftovers).

Kebab Lamb £6.25

Murgh Madurai £8.45

King Prawn Pathway £10.75

Chicken Jalfrezi £8.55

Pilau Rice £2.50

Gobi Sabji £4.95

Bombay Bicycle Chef delivers in areas of South West and South East London.

Find out more at bombaybicyclechef.com

Or visit www.emerz.co.uk

Bombay Bicycle Chef delivers in areas of South West and South East London.


Recipe: Chicken tikka kebabs with spicy Quinola

Today we’re heading from Chile to Peru (in Blogworld – not reality ) to enjoy some quinoa (pronounced keen-wha). Quinoa is an organic vegetable protein that’s packed with essential amino acids and vitamins and it’s gluten and cholesterol free. And the Quinola selection has been sourced from the best Peru has to offer.

One of their new ranges is the Quinola Express. There’s a selection of flavours that come in handy pouches that you can heat in the microwave for 90 seconds or eat cold. I decided to try the Express Quinoa with Indian style chickpeas and came up with these delicious chicken tikka kebabs to accompany it.

To find out more about the full range of Quinola products visit quinola.com


Express Quinoa makes the perfect accompaniment


Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, cut into large cubes

150g plain yogurt

50g unsalted butter

80g fresh ginger, chopped

Half a tsp ground cumin

Half a tsp ground coriander

2 dried red chillis, crumbled

Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsp tomato puree

A dash of vegetable oil


Marinating chicken with a quinoa background

To make the marinade mix all the ingredients in a blender until you have a thick, smooth paste.

Pour the marinade into a large bowl and add the chicken. Coat well and leave to marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight would be ideal.

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Chicken and plenty of marinade

Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers.

Heat the grill or barbecue.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning regularly and basting with the yogurt marinade.

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Chicken tikka skewers straight off the barbecue

While the chicken is cooking, microwave the Quinola.

Spoon the hot Quinola into a round biscuit cutter and leave for 2 mins.

Remove the round and serve with the kebabs.


Chicken tikka kebab with a rounded portion of quinoa


The way your food is presented is so important. How many times have I waxed lyrical about the way dishes have looked in restaurants I’ve been to?

If a plate of food looks good I definitely believe it’s going to taste more delicious. And it’s really not that hard to do.

When you’re serving quinoa, rice, couscous or anything similar, place a biscuit (cookie) cutter on the plate and spoon it in. Press it down gently and leave for a few minutes. Carefully remove the cutter and you’ll be left with a lovely round, restaurant-style.


Indian tapas at Sundoo in Sea Point

Today we’re back in the main road in Sea Point. Yes, I know we do spend a lot of time eating there. Sundoo is a new addition to Sea Point’s restaurantland which serves Indian tapas.

I love Indian food and am partial to the tapas-style way of eating so I was excited to sample our latest local. The restaurant opens up to the street and is light-filled with a cool, contemporary feel. Two rows of stools at the front are arranged along a shelf on the pavement, the perfect place to settle in for some people watching in the activity of this buzzy street. And for some seriously tasty food.

The first section offers a selection of mini rotis and mini bunny chows. I’m a bit of a fan of mini anything in the food world! On our first visit we tried the trio of lamb rotis. Among the best lamb I’ve ever tasted, so beautifully tender, rich and perfectly spiced with a nice chilli bite, served on top of beautifully buttery rotis. How I wish I could cook lamb like this at home – only one thing for it, ask if the chef could give us a hint of her ingredients (if not the whole recipe). She hails from Durban, the home of the best Indian food in South Africa and clearly knows her stuff. But she’s not parting with any of that knowledge – even to the owner of the restaurant I was told. All her recipes are being kept firmly secret in her head. Fair enough.


A lamb dish I’ll eat over and over

Also in the starter section on the first page were these spicy prawn bites. Again the balance of flavours was exceptional.


Pretty, crispy prawn bites

On our second lunchtime visit the lamb hadn’t been delivered yet, so we opted for the chicken rotis (good idea to try everything on the menu anyway). Again it was spectacular, those wonderfully rounded flavours that you can only achieve with exactly the right combination and quantity of spices.


The spicy chicken roti trio

There’s also a page of curries which you can order in full or half portions. I love that, the halves work perfectly as light lunch dishes. Our waiter recommended we try the Pondicherry kingklip. I’m a big fan of the local white fish and was pleased to see how well it works in a curry. The chunky fillets were simmered in fresh tomato, garlic, spring onion, coriander and tamarind root for a beautifully silken sauce with bite.


Kingklip makes for a great fish curry

The Kavarati chicken is braised with fennel, cumin and a blend of garum masala. A chicken curry that’s now right up there as a firm favourite.

chicken curry

Tender Kavarati chicken and rice

You can choose your heat for each dish, from medium, hot or vindaloo. We’ve gone medium and that’s plenty enough for me. There’s also a selection of dishes from the clay oven but they’re are only available at dinner.

You can tell that all the dishes have been prepared with love and care by someone whose knowledge of cooking Indian food is phenomenal. Which is why there are usually long queues in the evening (the restaurant doesn’t take bookings). And obviously why the chef’s not parting with her spectacular recipes. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep going back and let her keep doing the cooking.


A dry rose is a great combination with the spices

Sundoo is at 77 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town. It’s just across the road from another favourite La Mouette, which you can read about by clicking here.

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?


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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