Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Curry? I think I'll have a bagel instead!

Last weekend, Bex, Bonnie, Avalon and I went down to Brick Lane in East London to check out the annual Baishaki Mela that's held to celebrate the Bangladeshi New Year.
It's said to be the premier Bengali celebration outside of Bangladesh.
By the time we got there, the main parade was done but there were still people in costumes buzzing around to give us an indication of what we missed.
We walked the length of Brick Lane among the thousands, mainly from the Bangladeshi community, taking in some of the sights and smells of this vibrant part of London, and Bonnie, a Trini-Indian jokingly warned "this is not the crowd to lose me in".
Whenever I go to Brick Lane, I try to have a meal in one of its many curry houses and this time was no different.
Many of Brick Lane's restaurants claim to being 'The Best'. You'll see banners up heralding the accolades bestowed on the restaurant by various London publications.
Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily a true indicator of the standard of the food on offer.
We stood in front of one restaurant with a banner saying something like 'The Guardian's Best Curry House 2006' and contemplated eating there but as it was a lovely mild day, we wanted to dine al fresco so we turned our attention to Preem's, a restaurant across the road, with lots of diners eating outside and of course, a 'Best Curry' banner.
Bex tackles the food at Preem's in Brick LaneAs we took our seats we realised we were a bit close to a dustbin overflowing with discarded paper cups and cans, and people walking past were passing too close to our table.
As soon as a nearby table became free, we moved but this didn't go down with our waiter, a grumpy, crochety old sod who is one of the rudest waiters I've ever come across.
He couldn't, or wouldn't properly advise on different dishes or about how much we should order to share or anything of the sort. I was so dismayed, I told one of his colleagues to warn him about his silly attitude.
The meal didn't have such a bad start with poppadums (fried thin discs of dried peas, sometimes seasoned with spices) and an assortment of dips including mango chutney, as well as vegetable and lamb samosas.
It was the main course that spoilt it for us. I think the worst thing to have is tasteless curry. That should be an oxymoron but it was one that came through on our plates at Preem's on Brick Lane.
Where do I start? The vegetable biryani - usually a mouth watering dish of rice and vegetables infused with a fragrant mixture of spices - tasted like rice cooked with tumeric and a bit of chilli.
I love korma, a mild curry that incorporates yoghurt and coconut cream infused with coriander, cumin, cardamom, and cloves. This time I opted for the lamb korma which tasted like yogurt, curry and a bit of coconut cream but no little or no spice. I was getting really annoyed at how tasteless this meal was. We also had some fish bhindi, fish and okro curry which was like the rest of the meal, pretty unremarkable.
A yummy salt beef bagel like the one I had (Courtesy: Wikipedia)The tastiest bit of the main course was the dish that was supposed to be the blandest! The rice pullao, a plain rice pilaf was just about adequate.
Today, I made a monkfish and vegetable curry that was so much better than the meal we had last week. It was tasty, well spiced and quite enjoyable. I probably should have invited the girls over for lunch.
I did have something nice to eat on Brick Lane that day though. On the way home, we stopped in at one of the traditional beigel (aka bagel) shops for a salt beef with mustard beigel. The bagel was perfect. It reminded me of bread from the small bakeries in Trinidad, where the bread was just as good as homemade. The beef was lean, tender and extremely tasty. The bagel was so perfect in its simplicity, it was a stark contrast to the absolute crud we had earlier.

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  • At 17:55, Blogger sweet trini said…

    bad, especially tasteless curry is criminal! so sad...
    walk good.

  • At 19:07, Blogger Petit said…

    I hate english style curry. try the vegetarian indian places on drummond st, behind Euston Station. They sell some great dosa and pani puri plus there's a great sweet shop next door


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