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Beyond a Takeaway – Hankies@Home
At the end of the 13th week of lockdown, my kitchen having produced three meals every day, it was an enormous relief to have a professional chef cook our dinner. My household does not tend towards takeaways, but we do enjoy eating out and used to do so regularly before Covid-19 changed our social and domestic lives. Restaurateurs across the globe have had to adjust themselves too. From cooking for the NHS workers to changing tack from sitdown service to takeaway, UK restaurants are under great financial pressure and are now faced with working out how to re-open with social distancing and new health and safety requirements.
So how does an upmarket restaurant feel @ home? We were offered the opportunity to try out Hankies@Home, the delivery service from the eponymous Indian restaurant. While I miss the theatre of an evening out in a restaurant, it felt exciting to eat a professionally cooked meal albeit at my own dining table. The sophisticated interior of Hankies Indian Restaurant in Marble Arche was missing, as were the staff, the ambience, the drinks, the dressing up and the going out to have fun. At least we didn’t have to do the washing up, my husband quipped.
Had I had friends over for dinner I would have felt a bit stressed by the text message that informed me that the delivery time, outside the restaurant’s control, had been delayed. As it was, my men were more than happy to keep on watching the football on TV – as longed for by them as a restaurant meal is by me. My teenager made a toastie as a warm-up to the delayed meal. Hankies kept me updated about the delivery and when it would arrive which was very professional.
I had ordered a range of dishes to cover all bases – vegetarian, fish, chicken and meat – as well as the different sections in the menu from Indian street food to the Pan-Asian options. The dishes arrived packed in a brown paper bag. The dishes were each packed into black trays and sealed well so that there was no spillage at all. I don’t have a microwave but decanted each dish and warmed it up briefly in the oven.
We began with crispy ‘gold’ cod which was one of our favourite dishes of the meal. Three well-sized pieces of cod fillet were coated with turmeric and Amritsari spices to take on a golden hue. The fish was beautifully cooked and spiced to medium heat. We all agreed that this would be on the re-order list. Amritsari fish is so-called after the city of Amritsar in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab where it is hugely popular. For good reason.
Next, we tried Potato Chaat which travelled less well. I always enjoy the way this dish looks on a plate with its colourful array of green, red and yellow, and the visual aspect is not well maintained in a takeaway format. It was a tangy mix of potato chunks (Maris Piper and sweet potato) along with a few chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and crispy Indian paid. Chaat snacks often have a crispy texture which was less evident here.
An interesting vegetarian dish followed in the form of tarragon paneer salan. I was intrigued by this dish as it contains Padron peppers which I associate with Spanish cuisine. Here they were cooked in a spicy tomato and curry leaf sauce, a licking-the-bowl-clean level of deliciousness. Along with the peppers were soft cubes of paneer and the surprise of walnuts which provided good textural contrast. A most satisfying dish.
Grilled king prawn Penang curry belongs to the Pan-Asian section of the menu and brought forth a different set of flavours. Seven succulent prawns were served in a sweet peanut-based sauce. This rich dish was balanced with a grilled half mango, beansprouts and coriander. Penang is renowned as the food capital of Malaysia and we enjoyed tasting one of its dishes.
Nyonya chicken curry is a delicately flavoured dish, the spice tempered by coconut. Expecting heat from a curry, this one was very different. Nyonya cuisine, also known as peranakan, derives from 15th century Chinese migrants, Peranakans, who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia. Many migrants married into Malay families and the name for a female Peranakan is nyonya. The dishes involve a long marinade and the chicken fillet pieces in this dish were tender and deeply flavoursome.
Last up was a lamb biryani from a tempting list of these fabulous rice dishes, one of my long time favourites. This was very fragrant and moist, with chunks of tender meat, caramelised onion, julienne of ginger, and chopped mint. Even though by this stage I was far too full, I managed to clear my plate. I would happily eat this dish on a weekly basis.
Portion sizes were good, flavours complex and the whole meal a treat. We may not be able to visit Hankies yet, but Hankies@Home is offering good value and tasty takeout.
In addition to regular meals, Hankies@Home also has a range of picnic hampers with Indian and traditional afternoon tea selections, available for delivery or to be picked up from their Paddington base. Find out more about the options from the Hankies@Home website
T: 07405 885673