Hello you. It’s me. Yes really. Well not intentionally. I tried to just do a quickie instagram post for this, but I unexpectedly hit the word limit (What word limit, yes that’s what I thought!). So I’m here again out of no choice and no time to spare but here goes…
Boy, what a crazy week it’s been. Builders in and out of the house, a viral bug that took out the entire family and the feisty bubba ‘s ongoing food strike. The one thing that I could do with right now, is a warm and comforting dish made by that ludicrously talented Ravinder Bhogal in my own home, so that I don’t have to part with my pyjamas.
What a difference a week makes eh. Last Friday I was actually seated in dress, heels and fully applied makeup in the fully chintzed up interiors of Jikoni, having bagged a booking weeks ago. This was Friday night. Premium slot. For my friend and fellow mother of two – the blonde beast – Friday night still crazily means club nights with the other half and a stack of friends (how does she do it?!). For me, it’s usually pj’s, wine and cheese night with hubby dearest whilst watching The Fall/Shades of Blue/Westworld/Mr Robot (I think you’re getting the picture). I clearly had some stepping up to do.
First up, as I’m always the early one, I racked up one of those #toiletselfies. This is my first and it’s only made it to the light of day because I absolutely loved the pink pom pom mirror and those kitsch prints that make a humble washroom feel all 1970’s cosy.
Next up…whilst waiting on my Gulabo’s martini (not to be missed), I dabbled in a bit of #tableporn. Again a first, I just couldn’t resist capturing the salmon pink paisley table linen, in all its glory. 10 mins in and I am clearly in love with this place. The pink hues, the cushions, curtains, it’s kitsch eccentricity but in a cutesy retro-adorable way.
My friend arrived. The banter began. the children-bashing swiftly followed. The aperitifs and ensuing carafes of wine flowed. “Yes, yes, yes, but what about the food?” I hear you ask…
OK, OK I’m getting to it. First off, a dish of crispy carom spiced mathis,
accompanied with an addictive and luscious pickle – and I’m not usually a pickle fan – brought me right back to childhood sunday brunches. Those lazy weekend mornings oozing with pickles of every kind, steaming masala chai, jalebi’s and hot out of the wok fried spicy puris.
Cauliflower popcorn – a lightly curried tempura dish – and the signature prawn toast scotch egg were all gobbled up with glee too. The banana ketchup and almost gherkin-like pickled cucumber in the latter dish, really gave it a fab kick.
Then came the mains. I’d seen the lobster khichdee (origin of kedgeree, obviously) in various instagram and twitter pics, and I just knew I had to have it. I was not let down. The rich yet smooth south Indian moilee broth (that’s coconut cream to you) and the subtle spices in the rice revealed a sensational depth. Last but by no means least, the beautifully sweet and succulent lobster sat nestled on top of it all. This was not the only highlight, the keema sloppy Joe went down a treat with my dining compadré, as I imagine it would with any burger fiend. The padron peppers were a neat touch too.
Five dishes down, my friend was defeated but my will was strong. I just couldn’t leave without trying that much instagrammed banana cake. And boy was I glad to have it all to myself. The miso butterscotch sauce was silky and just the right amount of sweet with a balanced salted edge. The cake itself, moist and gooey with oodles of banana flavour. The peanut brittle added a gorgeous crunch to it all. And though the ovaltine kulfi wasn’t as pronounced as I’d hoped for (again that’s a childhood favourite of mine), it was successful in its purpose – adding a creamy dreamy element to it all. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get a shot of this because…well I ate it all up first!
In short (sic), I’m with @MarinaOLoughlin @Richardvines and @Fay_Maschler and the hordes of fellow foodies on this one. In no way, thankfully, is this another curry house. Nor is it a poshed up Mayfair version of a curry house (Yes, I’m referring to Gymkhana, still don’t understand the craze for this place). This is a small (it really is tiny) neighbourhood eaterie but with big ambition. Ravinder plucks flavours from around the world and wraps them up in a warm patchwork quilt, spilling just the right blend of spices for added kicks. I love the convivial nature, the chilled service and the kitsch interiors. Certainly a welcome change to the bare back tables and uptight waiters of today’s London.
p.s. Sorry for the godawful photos. Lighting got too dark and cosy after the starters. Oh and then there were the aperitifs and two carafes of wine 😉