Cinnamon Bazaar – The Most Fun!
I have a soft spot for the Cinnamon group of Indian restaurants So I was delighted when I was invited along to a press event for the latest addition to the family – Cinnamon Bazaar.
Much of my enthusiasm comes down to the fact that I’ve loitered for several years at the annual Holi event at Cinnamon Kitchen in the City. And, I’ve noticed one player in particular who is something of a cheerleader, a smiling, multicoloured, paint throwing reveller otherwise known as Executive Chef Vivek Singh.
The colourful surroundings of Cinnamon Bazaar are perhaps just a reflection of his colourful personality. And, as he told us, developing the menu for Cinnamon Bazaar was ‘the most fun yet’.
We enjoyed a whole selection of canapes while we listened and watched Mr Lyan, aka Ryan Chetiyawardana, talking about how he’d created a cocktail menu to pair with the street food. I was happily sipping on a falooda swizzle – a concoction of white rum, basil seed, creme d’abricot, lime and amaranth cress.
I’d been a bit concerned that I’d find it too sweet but, it was really delicious and light. Others were raving about the Bazaar old fashioned made with coconut washed Indian Scotch, coconut sugar and burnt cinnamon. And, the masala cola float took me right back to my childhood, in a kind of sophisticated, grown-up way – Karma Cola with aged masala mum and masala ice-cream (I grew up in Malaysia drinking ice-cream sodas every afternoon at the local swimming club – not quite the same alcohol content but definitely the same fun effect.!)
Vivek had enthused about the chaat menu so by the time the pretty plates of food arrived we were itching to try. He described how in India a good Chaat Wallah will customise your order according to your own taste. And, on the menu we shared, there were four chaats – all delicious, though my personal favourite was the Watermelon chaat (bottom left in the picture) made with pressed watermelon, amaranth seeds, date chutney and masala cashew nut.
We also enjoyed papdi chaat -crisp wheat with tangy tamarind, yoghurt and chickpea vermicelli, jodhpuri kachori chaat, – spiced onion dumplings with curried white pies and a chutney medley and dahi Bhalla chaat – chilled lentil dumplings with spiced yoghurt and toasted cumin. All veggie dishes, this is the sort of Indian food that fills up a carnivorous beast like me without me noticing the absence of meat.
Along with the chaat we enjoyed Kadhai spice bullet chillies seasoned with what was described as poppy seed gunpower. They were remarkably like Indian style Padron peppers and I loved every mouthful. Though I have to admit, I’d eat a bowlful of Padron peppers given half a chance.
Starters comprised lamb galauti kebab on a flaky saffron paratha, Tandoori chutney paneer tikka, and a pepper fry of curry leaf and crack black pepper fried shrimp in a pastry basket. The lamb galauti was delicious with a really moist meaty patty on a light, fragrant paratha. The meat seasoning was light and delicate, but anything stronger would have overwhelmed the saffron in the paratha.
The pepper fry was the sort of dish I don’t want to share with plump shrimps nestling in a lightly peppered sauce.
My main of Tandoori Kentish lamb fillet with mint chilli korma, masala cashew nut and pilau rice was meltingly tender and perfectly cooked.
On the table, a whole selection of sides. My favourite, a Lucknow style chicken biryani with burhani raita was closely followed by the house black dal.
Meanwhile, my pescatarian companion was enjoying a fish dish that was brought as an extra from the kitchen for him, Kolkata spiced cod with mustard and red onion and caramel puffed rice together with a plate of Kabuli kofta with chickpea, spinach and dried fruits. I was just a little jealous of the fish dish – I will have to come back on another occasion and try for myself.
Dessert was a carrot halwa roll with clove ice-cream. If I am honest, I would have preferred the halwa without the wrapper, but that’s just gluttony! And the clove ice-cream was really delicious.
And we finished the evening with a glass of mint tea. I loved my introduction to Cinnamon Bazaar and hope to be back there soon. It IS fun – and even if, like me, you arrive cold and grumpy, you’ll soon be warmed up by the delicious food and smiling after a lovely cocktail or two.
28 Maiden Lane,
London WC2E 7JS
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For more substantial Indian dining in Covent Garden, we recommend Little Kolkata Indian restaurant focussed on the cuisine of Kolkata or Calcutta. For classic British dishes, try Bill’s in Covent Garden