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A Colourful Trip to Cafe Spice Namaste for #CurryforChange
Another of my bucket list restaurants, Cafe Spice Namaste is headed up by chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE of BBC2’s Incredible Spice Men and his wife Pervin Todiwala. And, as chance would have it, another participant in Curry for Change. This time, with friend and blogger The Hedonist in tow, I was looking forward to trying some of their dishes including the CurryforChange special of mutton. Their food is regional Indian with a contemporary twist with updated versions of dishes from Goa, North India, Hyderabad and Kashmir. And, when we arrived in the spacious, colourful and airy dining room I did get the feeling that I might just have been walking into a restaurant on another continent.
Greeted by the formidable Mrs Todiwala we learnt that Cafe Spice Namaste are great supporters of Curry for Change. And, she encouraged us to order a variety of dishes including the Curry for Change mutton which, since I was in the company of the Pescatarian Hedonist would be all for me!
While we waited, home made poppadums and chutneys; mixed veg pickle, sweet and spicy pear, date and raisin chutney, a refreshing onion salad, and a calming mint, coriander and yoghurt raita. My personal favourite was the spicy pear, date and raisin – a sticky and dark mixture that I might just have over indulged in…a foolish move given we were going on to enjoy far more!
We shared the starters. A vegetarian platter included this beautiful tandori paneer, cooked to perfection so that the cheese was soft and tender with a spiced crispy exterior.
Other dishes included a delightful crunchy Bombay style Bhael poori topped with pomegranate and flavoured with tamarind , An earthy, rich beetroot and coconut samosa, vegetable bhaji and a potato dosa topped with a fresh light coconut and mint purée.
We had also ordered Seafood Balchao, a Goan dish which is a kind of rich pickle with shrimps blended with palm sugar and toddy vinegar to create a typical Goan red masala. The sauce is then used to stew a varied of seafood – prawns, squid rings and mussels with diced tomatoes Served with chapattis this is a perfectly balanced dish where the Portuguese influence is clear and yet the Indian heritage unmistakable.
As part of Curry for Change, Cafe Spice Namaste have a special dish – Mutton Goda Masala. £2 from every portion sold is donated to the charity. There’s a lot of information on the table which is made from a rare breed sheep that comes from the Island of North Ronaldsay in the Orkneys. These sheep live on seaweed and kelp – which ensures that the meat is rich in minerals from the sea and iodine. Only 400 sheep can be culled each year and they have to be over five years of age. The Karwar region of Maharashtra is on the West coast of India This curry is made with a complex mixture of spices, slow roasted along with grated fresh coconut and then pureed. The result is a fiery hot curry with amazing depth of flavour. Slow cooking ensures the mutton is meltingly tender and the dish is served with steamed basamati rice and tangy red onion salad.
Now, I would normally avoid mutton – I am always concerned that it will be tough and fatty. This was neither, thanks to the slow cooking. It was however, hot. At one point the Hedonist remarked that I was the same colour as my (red) dress. It’s a dish I’d go back for though – my idea of what a good curry should be.
Meanwhile The-Hedonist was feasting on an altogether softer option. His pretty dish of Goan prawn curry served with organic red rice came in a creamy lightly spiced coconut, saffron and tumeric sauce,
We ordered a lentil daal too, which I really didn’t need, but kept dipping into…
For dessert we shared Bebinca a popular Goanese dessert- made with layers of coconut pancakes flavoured with nutmeg and baked for up to six hours. Served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice-cream the perfect end to a stunning meal.
Oh, and I had tea. You should too – if simply to experience the beautiful presentation before you sip on a brandy glass of hot, fragrant liquid.
Thank you to Cafe Spice Namaste for a wonderful lunch and supporting Curry For Change.
Cafe Spice Namaste
16 Prescot St,
London E1 8AZ