Kitchen

For Halloween, Go to The Lucky Restaurant and See The Husain Painting in the Graveyard

lucky restaurant1If you are in Ahmedabad and you don’t know where to celebrate Halloween, that would be an amazing coincidence, but why not try this bizarre snack bar called The (New) Lucky Restaurant and eat among the graves? You can find it in the area of Lal Darwaja, not far from the old center of the city and next to the famous Sidi Saiyad mosque and its even more famous tree-shaped Jali!

 Fifty years ago, a tea stall was situated next to a Muslim graveyard but it was so successful that the owners decided to extend it among the tombs and neem trees.

lucky restau

Neem tree and graves

Today, the graves are painted green and surrounded by railings. They are respectfully cleaned and decorated everyday as they are the highlight of the tea joint. But whose graves are these? After searching on the internet, I read they might date back from the 16th century and were supposed to belong to the family of a Sufi.

lucky restaurant3

Croque-monsieur among the dead…

 I went there in a morning with my friend Shubbhra and we had a dosa and a delicious grilled sandwich. We were sitting by a lovely range of tombs! If you want to improve your French, it is funny to notice that the grilled sandwich I ate is a kind of snack which exists in France too. It is actually called croque-monsieur, ( croque = munch) ! And by the way, it also sounds like another French word croque-mort, (mort = dead), which is nothing less than an undertaker! ( French undertakers were supposed to bite the thumbs of the corpses to check they were really dead!)

Well, if you don’t want to try the lucky “croque-monsieur”, I heard maska buns were the best. (warm buns with butter…). The chai is also really famous for its inimitable chocolate aftertaste. The fresh mango juice is thick and yummy!

lucky restaurant4

by MF Husain for the Lucky Restaurant

 However, my friend and me didn’t even notice the highlight of the place, the gold icing on the jalebi; a real picture by Maqbool Fida Husain himself hanging on one of the walls! We didn’t know a masterpiece was in the restaurant then! The great painter loved going there and he was friend with the first owner Mohammad. He said that place gave him “a feeling of death and life”, a kind of carpe diem sensation. He made a picture and gave it to the restaurant in 2004. Well,to my mind, it looks a bit like a poster for a Tunisian travel agency but I heard it cost a great deal of rupees!

Stories are told about the great costumer: it is said the painter used to come there barefoot. Other rumors say bottles of tea from the Lucky Restaurant were ordered to be taken by friends especially for him while he was self-exiled in Dubai!

 Now, the last question is: Are you ready to have lunch among the dead? In Ahmedabad, some people say they feel the presence of God thanks to the shrines and some others go there every morning to spend an auspicious moment providing luck for the rest of the day… so now, you know why this teashop is called The Lucky Restaurant!

For further reading, you can go to Oddity Central or Live Mint.

Click on the photo to see where there are from.

And to finish, the rules of the restaurant pinned on the wall. I can’t read Gujarati but I know the last rule is “Don’t fight with the waiters!”

lucky restaurant2

Categories: Gujarat, India in pictures, Kitchen, Museum, Voyages | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hindi Night in Paris: Cinema and Restaurant

Article only available in French.

Turban legend...

Turban legend…

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Cinema, Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saravana Bhavan, Canal Saint-Martin, a friend…

The holidays are ending. I enjoyed my last day of freedom with my friend Valérie who learns Hindi with me.

She took me to Saravana Bhavan, a famous vegetarian restaurant, 170 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. This is a chain; you can eat at Saravana’s everywhere from the Usa to the Emirates. The food is really different from the Indian restaurants I usually go to in Paris. Very few stews, no cheese naans, no lime pickle, no alcohol except Kingfisher beer and of course, no meat! Most of the dishes are from the South; the specialities are dosas, idlis and thalis.

 

The food is very fresh, fatless, not too salty, refined which is quite unusual in an Indian restaurant. The only weak point; I found the sauces a little tasteless and the dosa was cold. But all in all, it was a good experience and the chai was delicious!

The atmosphere in the restaurant was warm. The customers were talkative and enthusiastic. Most of them were Indian, which is the sign it is a good restaurant. The waiters were smily and elegant. I enjoyed the modern, classy but simple decoration; a mixture of grey, black and white. It was very different from the fake zardosi Taj Mahal pictures, the elephant carvings and the former-Chinese-restaurant chairs that you can see in other Indian restaurants.  From one o’clock pm onwards people started to queue up on the pavement.

For all that you can see in the pictures, we paid 32.50 euros.

 

 

If you want to read a nice post about this restaurant, go to the blog Mistress of Spicies.

And then, a walk along the Canal Saint Martin, before the rain!

Canal Saint Martin before the rain

Categories: A Piece of Myself, Kitchen | Tags: | 3 Comments

Good Indian Food for Bad Cooks: The Chicken Tikka Masala Mystery (Part II)

After tasting ready-made Chicken Tikka Masala , I decided to try to cook this dish in a more impressive way: I mean by making some rice and cutting pieces of chicken! So, I didn’t put my apron on because I don’t have any but I found my frying-pan in the bottom of my cupboard and I went to Monop’ to buy the ingredients I needed.

This post is not advertising for Patak!

Patak’s Sauce Tikka Masala

Price: 3,21 euros A jar: 2/3 people

Preparation: About 15 minutes. You just have to cook rice and chop chicken escalopes in a frying-pan. Turn the chicken once or twice, add the sauce and continue the cooking for a few minutes.

                                                  

The Good Points:

It is nicely spicy and finely hot. (2 peppers out of 3 on the label)  The sauce is not sweet. It is tasty and exotic. I can eat it cold with a tea spoon!  Very easy and rapid. As you cook your own rice and chicken, your hubby or friends will have the feeling you really made some efforts to prepare a nice little meal for them.

The Bad Points:

The sauce is delicious but the taste will be always the same. You can’t use it all the time, it may be tiring. Moreover, it slightly tastes of the presevatives, so it is obvious the sauce is not home-made.

Patak’s Sauce

Patak’s Curry Paste Tikka Masala

Price: 3,10 euros A bag for 3 or 4 people

Preparation: (Everything is explained at the back of the pack)

Chop onions and brown them.   Add the paste and mix it to the onions. It looks ugly but don’t be afraid!  Add the pieces of tomatoes. (I didn’t peel them) Pour half a glass of water because it is very sticky and bizarre. Let it simmer. I added the chicken a bit later because I didn’t want it to be too dry. When the chicken seems ok, add the dairy cream and mix. Prepare the rice!

           

The Good Points:

It is really cooking but you don’t need to be a specialist in spicies and masale. The dish is good. It is not very hot but to my mind, it is not a good point so you can add chilli.

The Bad Points:

The result is impressive but the sauce is finally a bit too fat and the taste too strong despite the cream. Next time (if there is a next time) I’ll use more tomatoes and ligher dairy cream.  Don’t forget the rice or it may be sickly!

Mark: 6 /10   (let’s say maybe I need to practise and improve the recipe)

Patak’s Paste

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A Cup of Chai in Paris

 

Café l’Etoile Manquante: Strange mudras on the wall

 

This post is not advertising!

 It’s All Saints’ Day, which means cemeteries and chrysanthemums but also day off! I went for a walk with my friend Lim. It wasn’t very cold but cold enough to go and have a cup of tea in Le Marais, a chic, trendy, pleasant but crowded district in Paris.

Chai à L’Etoile Manquante

A Hindi classmate called François had told me: « I drank very good chai in the café L’Etoile Manquante (The Missing Star). » Strangely enough, there is nothing Indian in this café, apart from the barman who seems to come from Sri Lanka and who’s got one of the nicest smiles ever!

It’s always extremely difficult to find some good chai in Paris, even in Indian restaurants. It’s always a bit tasteless, spiceless, disappointing… So, I trusted François and ordered some chai and it was good; that’s true. However, that’s the kind of chai you shouldn’t drink if you’re trying to lose weight. Very sweet, very creamy; I don’t dare to imagine how many calories there were in it! I had the feeling I was drinking hot melted icecream!

Believe me or not, but so far, the best chai I’ve drunk in France is the chai I make at home. Even if I shamefully use skimmed milk and aspartame and although I’m too impatient to make it simmer in a saucepan for five minutes – I damaged enough saucepans while making porridge, that’s enough! No more milk in my saucepans! – Harney and Sons regularly give me the opportunity to drink good chai at home.

                   

To buy delicious tea by American brand Harney and Sons, go onto this site or if you are French… I’m not promoting anything, I’m really sincere, their tea is the best. I recommend you Hot Cinnamon Sunset! It’s a dream!

To have an authentic hot chocolate or a diet-killing chai: L’Etoile Manquante 34 rue Vieille du Temple 4ème Arrondissement Métro Saint Paul.

 

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Good Indian Food for Bad Cooks: The Chicken Tikka Masala Mystery (Part 1)

As I explained in my post about naans, I’m not a good cook, or in fact, I don’t like cooking, which is a bit different. However, I like Indian food but I don’t always have time to go to the restaurant.  The question was: how can you eat a good Chicken Tikka Massala without turning your kitchen into a horrible mess?  I found more or less delicious and more or less ready-made solutions .

 

ISALI Delights of Asia

Isali Ready to eat and to forget…

300g One person 543 Kcal / punnet Price: 5,20 euros

Where? I found this ready-made CTM in Monop’, the French poor equivalent of Mark and Spencer.

Package: Very simple. A picture of a dish of CTM, a little rice and a leaf or parsley. The main colours are light purple and white. They convey an idea of nature and purity. It doen’t make the consumer travel very far!

Preparation: Extremely rapid! You pierce the plastic film with a sharp knife and you put the punnet into your microwave-oven for 3minutes and 30 seconds.

The Good points: Very easy and fast to prepare. It is not even frozen! The chicken is really tender and there is a lot of sauce, which is a good point if you like when there’s lots of sauce! It is slightly spicy; it depends on your tastes; maybe some of you would prefer it spicier.

Isali Chicken Tikka Masala (Monop)

The Bad Points: The packaging looks like a diet food pack. A bit sad! The rice is not Basmati; it is small and too soft. It has no scent. It is plain rice. The sauce is too sweet certainly because of the raisins, the almonds and the…sugar!

Conclusion: It is good enough to undertake a survey for a blog or to eat at your office rapidly but I would not buy it again.

Final mark: 6/10

Mark and Spencer; It is worth the journey!

MARK AND SPENCER Chicken Tikka Masala and Pilau Rice

400G One person 620 Kcal / punnet Price: 4,99 euros

Where? Mark and Spencer 100, avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris. You nearly have to fight to get to the ready-made dish fridges! There are so many people in the M&S’s food department, especially at lunch time!

Package: Nice colours. The pack is saffron colour and reminds you of the colour of the sauce. There are the famous kashmir cypress tops. The letters are exotic and the photo appetizing. (Sorry for the picture; I was so hungry I tore the pack before taking the photo!)

Preparation: Extremely rapid too! The same as the previous dish since it is the same kind. You pierce the film and you wait for 4 minutes.

Good points: Cheap and delicious! The sauce is creamy but hot and spicy! Not too fat, not too thick! It is not sweet, just

Yummy!

soft. I’m crazy about the coriander and the cumin! The chunks of chicken are really roasted and very tender and tasty! Yummy! The dish on the whole is spicy, not burning, but hot enough to feel like in India!

Bad points: No bad points! Ok, I found the rice good but the grains were too big and not very refined. You have to go to the Champs Elysée to buy your CTM. It is worth it but it is far all the same!

Conclusion: When you eat this dish, you feel there are lots of Indian people in the UK, and that  these people are demanding about the Indian food they buy and sell! Mark&Spencer is famous for its ready made dishes and I really understand why!

Final mark: 10/10 !!!

To be continued…

Nounours helped me to taste the chicken!

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The Chicken Tikka Massala Legend

A British speciality?

As you can see on this site or that one, Chicken Tikka Masala is a mystery, and like any mistery, it has got its legends. Where is Chicken Tikka Masala from? Most of the stories apparently agree to say it was imagined by a South-Asian cook settled in Great-Britain who wanted to please Western palates.

So, let me tell you my story!

 Once upon a time in an unknown part of Great Britain, a restaurant owner called Abhishek had prepared a traditional dish: Tikka Chicken. The customers who were there and who were not Indian found the pieces of tandoori meat too dry and too spicy. « I wish old Gordon Setter hadn’t had his heart attack and his pub wasn’t closed! His roastbeef and gravy are far tastier and tenderer! », Jack Terrier complained before taking a big gulp of lager.

« What can I do? » asked the Indian restaurant owner to himself. « They are obsessed with their traditional gravy! » He was very worried. He had come from India two years ago to start a new life with his young wife Aishwarya and he didn’t want to give up now! « Use your initiative! », said Aishwarya while she was frying slices of aloo in a saucepan. « I refused to take part in Miss India Contest 1968 to follow you to this sad and cold country! So, don’t give up now or I will go back to Mumbai in my family! I’m sure I can make it in Bollywood! »

Abhishek was thoughtfully looking out of the window when he saw Mr Cocker the milkman who was delivering his pots of yoghurt to Mrs Poodle the teacher. He was wearing a red tee-shirt showing a famous painting by Andy Wharol: Campbell.

Abhishek started: « That’s it! I’ve got an idea! » He ran to Mr Cocker’s grocery and bought tins of tomato sauce. He asked the dairyman to sell him some yoghurt and rushed back into his kitchen.

You guess what happened next! Tikka Massala Chicken was born!

Before…Classic Tikka Masala

The roasted spicy pieces of chicken found themselves soaked in a creamy masala sauce made of

…after! Chicken Tikka Massala!

yoghurt and tomato. Abhishek’s clients were highly satisfied, and the Indian cook became famous in the whole town. Aishwarya didn’t return to India and old Gordon Setter resold his pub to a bank company.

Nowadays, CTM is considered as a real British national dish and was claimed the favourite dish in the United Kingdom, a bit like Couscous in France. CTM is not only a food speciality but it is also a symbol, the great symbol of multiculturalism in Greant Britain. As foreign secretary Robin Cook stated in a speech in 2001: Chicken Tikka Massala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences. Chicken Tikka is an Indian dish. The Massala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy.

Even if some people may not agree with the origins of this cooking masterpiece, they can’t deny it has become a British bestseller!

This Indian-British speciality is so popular that even in France, eating CTM is not mission impossible. However, the recipe is not unique, like for the apple tart, there are as many CTM recipes as cooks. The aim is just to get a slightly sweet rust-colour creamy sauce.

So, the rule of the game in the next episode of my CTM adventures will be to find the best way to eat this dish easily without cooking too much and without going to the restaurant of course.

Will I accomplish this unspeakable mission?

You’ll discover the answer in tomorrow’s post!

 Oh, yes, and what about Abhishek and Aishwaria? Well, they became so wealthy and so happy that they had three babies: York, Bernard and Chippiparai!

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An Indian Recipe with Mango and Mussels…Risky?

Mango and mussel salad…

I found a nice site for those who can read French, who like Indian food and easy recipes: Bollywood Kitchen. It seems great because you don’t always have to get secret Indian ingredients to make the dishes. You can find them in your local supermarket.

I’ve already told you I’m not a good cook, I mean I don’t like cooking, it is not a hobbie to me but a chore. But I found on that blog a salad recipe which looked good and easy to make.  Mussels and Mango salad.  But, was it?

 For ¾ people:

The ingredients…

I bought everything I needed:

 Mussels (I found them already cooked) and I added shrimps (cooked too)

1 mango

1 avocado pear

young onions + shallot (I chose a «common » onion and I didn’t use shallot)

mint

curcuma

olive oil

1 lime

yoghurt

Cut the mango, the avocado and a little of onion into pieces.

 I have a tip to cut the mango easily. Most of you probably know it but I like it because it is beautiful. You cut half of the mango; the knife must go close to the stone to get as much fruit as possible. You carve a grid into the flesh of the mango and then you turn the mango inside out like a sock or a woolen cap. Isn’t it lovely?

An easy way to cut mangoes…

 So, put the mango, the avocado and the onion into a salad bowl and add the mussels and the shrimps.

 Make the dressing with yoghurt, curcuma, lime, salt and pepper. I didn’t know what curcuma was and I loved the smell. It must be delicious in a sauce for salmon.

 Well, then, you mix everything in the bowl. Don’t forget the mint!

The dressing…

Conclusion:

Well! What can I say?

I definitely prefer mango as a dessert.

Mango and onion together taste weird.

The taste of mussels is maybe too strong to be mixed with mango and avocado.

 I think Sanjee, the girl who writes Bollywood Kitchen, had to imagine a recipe with mussels because she had a partnership with the Moules de Bouchot. So, she did her best but unless I really messed this salad up, I think it would be better without the mussels. I didn’t fancy the avocado either. However, the shrimps were good with the mango.

 In conclusion, I have a pain in my stomach but I’m sure Sanjee’s blog is plenty of great recipes, like Butter Chicken which is her best dish, so I’ll try another one next time.

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