Popadoms and pickles (Lime pickle, Mango pickle and Aubergine pickle)
Roasted Corn with chilli and sea salt
Chapatti or Nan bread
Advance bookings are essential as the event is always fully booked.
Please call the Plume of Feathers (19 Park Vista, Greenwich. Tel: 020 8858 1661) or email email@example.com
Popadoms and pickles (Lime pickle, Mango pickle and Aubergine pickle)
Goan Prawn Curry (mild-medium)
Chicken Madras (medium-hot)
Please book at the Plume of Feathers (19 Park Vista, Greenwich. Tel: 020 8858 1661)
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Manjal, London E14
This classy Isle of Dogs gem has always impressed me with its freshness (see Fast but certainly fresh) – now it boasts a fresh menu as well as fresh food. And what a menu it is.
Dishes are split into sections on the new line-up: as well as dosas, rice and breads, there are veg starters, autograph veg starters, non-veg starters, autograph non-veg starters, with the same format used for mains. I almost felt sorry for the lovely sounding dishes that failed to be elevated to the autograph status! But there was no need. The Potato Tikka Chat (£5.95) was one such dish and it was delicious. The potato patties were lightly fried and topped with channa dal and carrying an unexpected kick with its spicing.
This was just one of the dishes that will interest vegetarians. Broccoli Varulal (£5.95), delivers the trademark freshness, as I know from previous visits, while the great named Gobi ’65 (£5.95) – an Indo-Chinese offering of deep-fried cauliflower florets – is certain to get a testing in the future. It’s also nice to see dal dishes treated with deserved respect by the menu creator as too often diners see it just as something to moisten up their rice, if they eat it at all. Here there is a choice of Dal Tadka (£5.95), the wonderfully creamy Dal Makhani (£6.95), a popular dal-lovers dish that is cooked with different types of lentils, and Dal Manjal (£6.95), a coconut curry from South India.
But this dockside venue, which had a smart after-work business buzz to it on this visit, has superb choices for those of us who enjoy non-veg dishes as well.
The Mutton Kothu Roti (£9.95) has to be tried. This dry dish of Sri Lankan origin is a mix of meat (there are also chicken and veg versions), onions, leeks, spices and pieces of shredded bread – think of it as a sort of bread biryani. It’s really unusual – each mouthful delivers a spicy mix with tasty chunks of mutton and the odd chewy piece of roti thrown in for good measure. It’s always extremely filling – I could only manage one tier of this nicely presented two-tiered dish. It comes with a side of spicy sauce.
The kottu was, of course, one of the autograph non-veg curries. And it had some serious competition when it came to me choosing my main because others on the menu were the Chettinad Manjal Special Chicken Curry (£8.95), the Manjal Special Fish Curry (£10.95) and the got-to-be-tried-next-visit Manjal Special Lamb Curry (£9.95). Another creation from South India, this is a dish where lamb, liver and bones are all cooked together in a thick masala sauce.
I’m always on the look out for new dishes to try and this menu certainly offers scope for plenty of return visits for that. Having tried the Devil Chicken starter (£9.95), another of the Indo-Chinese offerings with a wow spice kick, as well the dishes mentioned above, I know they are more than worth a try.
Manjal, 3 Turnberry Quay, Pepper Street, London, E14 9RD. Tel: 020 7538 1140. E-mail: email@example.com. Open: daily, noon–11pm.
Scores on the tandoors
Atmosphere 8 (Thursday night)
Service and friendliness 9
* The Greenwich Curry Club was hosted by Manjal restaurant.
Spicy Village, Torreblanca, Spain
Ganga, Torreblanca, Spain
Just when I was about to decry that all Indian restaurants in Spain seem to churn out pretty poor, generic curries after eating at Spicy Village, along comes a saviour in the form of Ganga.
The two curry houses are both relatively new and are vying for business in the resort of Torreblanca along the Costa del Sol. But it’s pretty obvious which one will come out on top.
Spicy Village has a great location facing the sea and although it is housed in a pretty uninspiring brick-faced building, the covered outside area has been nicely decorated with large photos of spices and impressive buildings from the Sub-continent.
The food is a let down though. The Chicken Dopiaza (€7.50) was ok-ish, with a decent amount of onions giving the sauce a sweetish taste. But it just felt so generic, like a standard sauce that would go with almost anything. Now, as most of us know, restaurants use the same base sauce for most tomato based curries, but there was a feeling here that not a lot else had been added to the base to make the Dopiaza any different any of the other curries on the menus. The way the Garlic Nan (€2.50) had been made reinforced the disappointment – this was just a standard nan with a few chunks of garlic pressed into the top. Where was the great infusion of taste these breads usually deliver?
But it was the Vegetable Madras (€7.95) where things really fell apart. Here was a bowl of base sauce and can of tinned vegetables, with those perfectly chopped cubes of carrots and all. Not acceptable, especially when Spain boasts such tasty and cheap vegetables.
Spicy Village, Paseo Maritimo Torreblanca No 110, Edif Nautico Local, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 951 50 52 77 or +34 647 12 83 65. Open: daily 1pm–midnight.
Scores on the Tandoors
Service and friendliness 6
Atmosphere (Saturday night) 8
But there was complete turnaround on the visit to the spacious Ganga. The waiter looked almost bemused when asked if the chef used fresh vegetables. Of course, of course. The chef/owner, I was told, worked and even trained others in New Delhi’s famous Taj Hotel. He certainly knows how to cook, that’s for sure.
The fresh veg feast included a generous portion of Palak Paneer (€5.50) and a delicious Paneer Jalfrezi (€6.95), and although it might be a bit saucy for some Jalfrezi purists, it had plenty of fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers in a smooth base that verged on the creamy but delivered a nice kick. Made on site, the paneer is soft with a slight bite to it, but it has none of the rubberiness you can get from some pre-bought cheese. It’s among the best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. And fresh was the order of the day with the Aloo Gobi (€5) with nice chunks of perfectly cooked potato (amazing how many places can get this wrong) and florets of cauliflower coated in a dryish sauce.
And just to show it’s not only veg that is cooked so well, the Chicken Tikka Masala (€8) was spot on. You know the chef’s got this classic right when you end up scraping the dish at the end of the meal even though you are full to the brim already.
The table was finished off with a large serving of Pilau rice (€2.75), a Cheese, Onion and Chilli Nan (€3.50) and my new favourite accompaniment, an Onion and Tomato Salad (€2). I find the freshness of the salad cuts through the spiciness of the curries beautifully, acting like a mid-meal and setting me up for the next dish. And you’ll want plenty more dishes at Ganga, that’s for sure.
Ganga, Plaza de Torreblana, 7 (Av Torreblanca), Torreblanca 29640, Fuengirola, Spain. Tel: +34 952 661 749 or +34 652 240 902. Open: 6pm–midnight (later in season).
Scores on the Tandoors
Service and friendliness 8.5
Atmosphere (early Sunday night) 6
The Greenwich Curry Club always like to check out new curry venues so we were delighted to be the very first customer at Balti Base, the name chosen by the new owners of the takeaway at 106 Blackheath Road. Previously Curry to Go, and before that Medina, they have some tough competition with Le Popadom, Indelicious, Green Chillies and Chutney all close.
But the young owners have a spark that makes me believe they could thrive. A smiley, friendly service (I was number one customer after all…) goes a long way, but you’re going to love the prices even more. Old-school curries like Bhuna, Rogan and so on come in at £3.75 for chicken and 50p more for lamb, while you can sample specials like Chicken Honey Khany (nuts and sultana in a sweet yoghurt sauce) for £5.25 or the King Prawn Special with mushrooms for £6.25.
Parking: on the side streets off Blackheath Road.
Delivery: free on orders over £12 although the menu doesn’t specify which areas this covers.
Specials: free Bombay Potato on orders over £15 that are collected.
Beer while you’re waiting: the Graduate is over the road.
Balti Base, 106 Blackheath Road, London, SE10 8DA. Tel: 020 8692 2423. Open: daily 5.30pm–11pm.
The scores on the tandoors
Waiting area 6
Spice World at 101 Trafalgar Road in Greenwich, the on-the-face-of-it chicken shop, has rebranded itself as Lahore so people realise it makes decent curry (it really does). There is the full range of curries from the classic favourites to a good selection of specials (including Green Curry and Chicken Rajeshwani) but the lunch specials catch the eye. A ready-made selection of three curries (Lamb, Chicken or Meatball when I visited) comes with rice for just £4.50. There is also dal and a vegetable curry available. Fried chicken, pizzas and kebabs are still on the menu but this is now firmly in the curry camp.