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Raj Banerjee

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    Kensington, London
  1. No Claudia Roden's Book of Middle Eastern Food?
  2. Many thanks, will have another look! Sorry I didnt get a chance to check this again yesterday. Cheers...yummy toast here I come! Raj
  3. Hey, I remember having this stuff on perfect, slightly sweet, toasted bread while in Singapore and Malaysia, and was wondering if anyone out there knew if/where this could be purchased in London? I certainly don't recall seeing it Loon Fung or any of the Chinatown groceries, but I might be wrong... Any help would be most gratefully appreciated! Many thanks Raj
  4. Sadly, I would have to concur with everything that Bertie said, particularly about the service. Although I must admit, we werent treated at all rudely, but the inefficiencies and icompetencies were certainly evident on the Sunday lunchtime we visited (party of 8, sat by the river in the corner, slightly squashed table). There were waiters making lots of noise, waiters being instructed noisily, waiters being berated noisily, waiters dropping cutlery noisily...the roast duck was brought out, breasts served, confit withheld, as usual, until asked for... I agree, its just such a nice place to go for lunch, it seems criminal that with a set-up as established as this, they can't be bothered or inclined to get the kitchen and staff back up to scratch. Its certainly 1 star cooking (at best) with no starred service in a 2-3 star room (when things aren't being dropped on the floor...). This is my 5th or 6th visit, and until I hear that things are back on track, I am afraid my visits to Bray are going to be to Heston's places... Raj
  5. Greetings, To add my tuppence to the general discussion, whilst I agree with most of what has been said regarding pairing Indian food with wine...the honest answer has to be that, in general, wine simply doesnt work with Indian food. Neither does beer, not from the point of view of matching tastes. The synergy between wine and food is complex and multi-faceted. Ppl far smarter than me can get into discussions ranging from "if it grows together, it grows together" to comparing GC-MS profiles of different wines and therefore what foods they are likely to pair with on a chemical-matching level. However, whilst some wines may "hit" with Indian food, I have to reiterate that overall, pairing one with the other is unlikely to enhance ones enjoyment of either. Same goes for beer. Traditionally, in my household and where my family is from in India, only water is taken with meals, and that too usually after the meal is finished, so as not to occupy space that could be filled with food! Hope your party went/goes well! Raj
  6. Hello I think that photos are not necessarily a pre-requisite for a great cookbook, but it does very much depend on the nature or theme of the book. Some of my favourite books have no pictures (Richard Olney, Elizabeth David) and some only very few pictures (Nose to Tail Eating). But then again, as I said, it depends. Restaurant cookbooks, where plating is inherent to successfully recreating the dish, definitely "sell" themselves on the pornographic and instructional/aspirational qualities of the food photography. Then again there are other books where the food photography is just to demonstrate what some of the finished products might look like, but have very detailed photographs of important preparatory steps eg Yan Kit So, and The Cook's Book, for examples and Martha Stewart's Baking Bible. And lets not forget about line drawings, such as those to be found in Julia Child, Barbara Tropp and Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie and Shizuo Tsuji. Certainly, the overall "worth" of the book is not solely determined by food photography, and its rare that lack of photography has dissuaded me from purchasing a book, so long as the recipes were good and the sort of thing I wanted to cook, its ended up in my kitchen. Oh, forgot to mention books where sometimes its more about the mood/feeling created by photos but with good/interesting recipes, such as White Heat, and those with not so great recipes but really nice shiny photos (sorry, but Donna Hay et al fall into this category for me! No offence!) Regards Raj
  7. Typical Indian (if there is such a thing!) breakfasts aren't usually of the sweet variety either, tho an Indian sweet may well be taken after the savoury, and whether you're vegetarian or not, breakfast tends to be a vegetarian meal. However, in terms of the other ingredients taken at breakfast time, they don't differ very much from meals at other times of the day. In Kolkata, typical breakfasts are things like hing-er kachori and aloor dom - fried flat doughbreads flavoured with asafoetida with potato curry thats flavoured with yoghurt. But equally you may have aloo paratha (another type of flat Indian bread, this time stuffed with spicy mashed potatoes). In Indian hotels, idli, vadai, sambar dahl, dosa and the like seem to be in all the breakfast buffets etc, and in South Indian style cafes throughout India, ppl do seem to enjoy this sort of food at breakfast time. A common theme here seems to be leftovers at breakfast, and this is certainly true in my household in India but not so much in London. Whilst some people on this thread have expressed suprise at spicy/rich foods for breakfast, I can assure you that an equal number would be suprised by fried breakfast meats, particularly at the thought of salt or smoke preserved meats at any time of day! Me, I eat either what I'm in the mood for, what I have time to make, or whats available. I love the posh American idea of a bountiful breakfast table filled with baked goods, pancakes, waffles, and any number of egg and potato preparations, and I also love the Englishness of the full monty, the continental ease of croissants, breads, cheese and cold cuts and fruit and yoghurt, and the asian breakfasts of whoever is doing whatever well at the nearest hawker stalls early in the morning! Cheers, Raj
  8. Thanks for your input, Chihiro...so her books do demonstrate (roughly) what gets cooked in an average household...thanks for that, might give it another look! Cheers, Raj
  9. Add another vote in favour of Shizuo Tsuji's, and even tho this thread seems to be done with, I thought I would also try asking if anyone has any thoughts/opinions etc to do with Harumi Kurihara. I know that her first book one an international cookbook award (Harumi's Japanese Cooking) and her second book (obviously I am referring to her English language books) focusses more on Japanese Home Cooking. In England she is apparently referred to as Japan's Delia Smith. Whilst I am a Delia Smith fan, I wouldnt necessarily buy or use her recipe books! I love Tsuji and Washoku by Andoh, but would like to know more about what gets cooked in Japanese homes on a daily basis. Thanks, if this thread is dead, I won't take it personally! Raj
  10. I am inclined to disagree. Chinese food in london is generally dismal. Hakkasan is excellent, no doubt, but it is hardly authentic dim sum, and I do not consider such a trendy restaurant to be a great place to get dim-sum generally. I'm from Vancouver in Canada, and we have an enormous ex-pat HK community. The food there is widely considered to be as good as HK because many of the top chefs moved there from HK prior to the handover. London chinese/dim sum isn't nearly as good as Vancouver, and Vancouver isn't as good as the best in HK. That being said, for good cheap diner-style chinese food, I really like Cafe TPT in Chinatown~~ ← Subjectivism and personal opinion are strange things,arent they? For every HK Chinese student that loves London dim sum and chinese food for reminding them of home, theres surely another that craves the "real" thing back home. However, one thing my Chinese student friends are universally agreed upon is that dim sum and chinese food in London is vastly superior, in general to that found in New York. I havent eaten dim sum extensively in NYC, but from the snapshot I got, I was inclined to agree, hugely. I havent eaten dim sum in Vancouver, so I couldnt compare London to Vancouver, and lets not forget that theres always a certain degree of tailoring taste to the local market. However, whilst the dim sum at Hakkasan is certainly very trendy, that trendiness I would argue extends mainly to the meats used in the preparation, and not the style of the dish being prepared. A la carte main courses are another matter. Champagne and butter are not natively Chinese cooking ingredients, as far as I am aware! But the dim sum at Royal China, Phoenix Palace, Joy King Lau and Princess Garden (unbelievable this place, a modern posh and expensive Chinese opposite Truc Vert down the road from Selfridges - but the dim sum menu is the 'normal' dim sum price and the food is brilliant, even compared to Royal China). In fact, some HK Chinese friends love going to Four Seasons in Bayswater for the crispy duck/roast duck cos the quality of the duck here is generally better than that to be found in HK apparently. Anyways, with regards to recommendations in London as a student, you mentioned a crepe place, I dont know if anyone has mentioned it already, but across the park from Marble Arch by South Kensington tube station you will find the Creperie. Excellent crepes as far I'm concerned, with a range of sweet and savoury fillings. If your friend explores nearby Bute Street, you can find loads of French delis/bookshops and whatnot, and Oddoni's which is a nice Italian ice cream place. Very good. I also love Busaba, theres a branch next to Selfridges actually, next to the Gap. Food halls...Selfridges/Harrods are good, but the small places like Ottoemezzo in Kensington, or Mia Riga, or the PieMan Shop and Truc Vert etc will be a nice alternative to the department store route. Thanks Raj PS for Michelin starred places, Tom Aikens is prob worth a go. Something different to Le Gavroche and to Gordo. Italian in London wont be the same as Italian in NYC, particularly Locanda Locatelli, which I love, but if ur used to the Il Mulino type of Italian in NYC, this is gonna feel almost French in comparison.
  11. Simple Indian by Atul Kochar fantastic book since it teaches the subtleties of indian spices rather than the heavy handed approach found in a lot of indian cookbooks. the recipes span a lot of indian regions, whilst not being in any way watered down for western palates. khazana of indian recipes by sanjeev kapoor as mentioned, he is an indian tv chef. the dishes are all properly indian tasting, but definitely spiced to an indian palate. if u like indian style chinese food, his chinese cookbook is also fantastic! happy cooking raj
  12. Thank you all so very much for your timely and astute recommendations. Organisation is in the process, I am away in Holland for a couple of days now. It seems like an almost thankless task, but I have put forward my suggestions and we'll see what happens! Thanks again folks, much appreciated. Raj
  13. Thanks for the responses thus far. I should clarify a couple of details for you; It is £60 per head for food, and a seperate budget for wine/alcohol, which will be roughly £60-80 per head. I probably should mention that this is a corporate event, and the main partner is very fussy and is more accustomed to michelin-starred food and service. I know that when organising a dinner for so many people you're bound to make a couple of them unhappy with your choice. The main problem I have found so far calling up restaurants, and it is a most understandable problem, is accommodating 3 dish choices per course. All seem to want just one dish per course, but this along with the room being private are the only criteria I am unwilling to negotiate on. Is finding a place in time for next friday a pipe dream?
  14. I need to book a private dining room for up to 40 people in London (preferably somewhere in the West End/Mayfair area). The food has to be good, of course, but more than that I need to have a menu with at least (as a minimum) 3 dishes per course for 3 courses. The room has to be completely private, the service and wine list have to be decent at the least. Price per person could be anything up to £60. Anyone got any ideas or recommendations????
  15. The Calcutta Cookbook by Minakshi Das Gupta I love this book, altho I may be biased cos I am Bengali, but this book explains the cuisine's relationship to the people that made it/eat it so well, whilst including the recipes to go along with them. The recipes are good, and the book is perfect reading for when I miss Calcutta. I didnt grow up in Calcutta, so even from that point of view, this book helps me understand my own food culture if you like. Also love Simple French Food by Richard Olney, and Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Tsuji and Thai Food by David Thompson and HFW Meat Cookbook. In fact, any well written recipe book could be considered literature if the recipes are written imbued with the author's personality. Raj
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