Tag Archives: curry

The Cat’s Pyjamas, Leeds 

Hmmmm….Indian street food….small plates in Leeds….definitely rings a bell?! Leeds has its fair share of outstanding establishments – Bundobust and Manjit’s Kitchen automatically spring to mind, then there’s Prashad further afield in Drighlington who’ve flown the flag of great Indian food for years! So when The Cat’s Pyjamas opened in Headingley, I wondered how it would compare to these already well-loved spots, also how it would fit into the area itself. Back in the day, Headingley and Woodhouse Lane were the perfect places for a messy curry, I remember many a memorable night spent at Tariqs, Akmals or even Nafees (a late-nighter, think it’s now the Balti King?), so along with Khana Bombay Cafe is there a new breed of curry houses populating this part of Leeds?

I’d missed their launch event, but a few positive reviews and tempting food snaps on Instagram was enough to get us turning up on spec a few weeks ago. Already quite busy at 6pm, we managed to nick a table in-between bookings. One early plus was the varied gluten free menu, which kept my husband happy! Pity we were still a tad full from lunch at Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, so instead of ordering a table full we sensibly chose a pickle tray/poppadoms, a couple of starters and a curry with rice. Of the two starters my favourite was the Keralan beef fry, an unexpected dish as the cow is considered a sacred animal in many parts of India, Kerala being an exception. Here the meat was beautifully tender and highly spiced. The Tandoori mixed grill didn’t really blow me away – the tikka prawns were juicy and gilafi seekh kebab (lamb) well flavoured, but I found the malai tikka (chicken) lacklustre, even though a mint chutney helped bring it to life I found it a bit wanting. 

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Tandoori mixed grill,  Keralan beef fry

The Kheema Matar was generously portioned up and as it was packed with minced lamb it was filling and I doubt I could’ve eaten the whole thing on my own. This highly flavoured dish came with a warming smack of heat and the addition of peas provided some sweetness to the dish.

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Kheema matar and pilau rice

Overall I liked the food, there were a lot of positives, but still a work in progress. Also considering it’s in Headingley, the place isn’t particularly cheap and I feel you get better value and tastier food elsewhere. 

The Cat’s Pyjamas

53 Otley Rd

Leeds

LS6 3AB

http://www.thecatspjs.co.uk

A Tale of Two Curries, Woking

Blogging’s taken a bit of a back seat recently, since my move down south life’s gotten in the way and posts have been few and far between; my last post being sometime in October. Even though there’s been the intention of writing, I’ve not really been in the right head space, so with a mini back log stacking up and with Christmas and New Year’s celebrations over with for another year, it’s time to do some catching up.

Woking town centre’s littered with chain restaurants, but there are independent spots around including a few curry houses. My continual search for the great and good of the independent food scene has brought my attention to a couple – namely Thali Thali and Bombay Night with differing levels of success, I’d heard promising things about some others, so on successive Friday evenings we found ourselves at Jaipur and Ray’s Indian.

Starting off with Jaipur – located on Woking’s Chertsey Road nestled amongst a hotch potch of businesses, where you’ll find deep fried chicken, tex mex, cheap pints, a few local indies, the bookies and the gym amongst other things. 

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After a disappointing curry at Bombay Night, Jaipur was a completely different affair and somewhere that we’d go again. With plush interiors and dim lighting, the food and service was excellent. Dishes came with prawns, chicken and lamb cooked till moist and juicy, sauces were thick without becoming cloying, subtle in taste as spices were used in moderation and overall had an air of refinement. Sundries of garlic naan and mushroom rice were also up to the task.

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For all the plus points, I’m still going to grumble about portion sizes and value for money, however I can’t winge about the food itself as it was all well done. 

Our second curry was at Rays Indian, a stones throw from the town centre and somewhere we’d walked passed a number of times as it’s on the way to the train station. A few months ago award winning Rays Indian came to our attention as part of Woking’s Food and Drink Festival, and the gannets that we are got our hands on some curry; it immediately joined our list of places to try.  Opening in 2013, their aim was to bring traditional Indian street food to the local area in a restaurant setting – an idea that’s been seen more this year than any other. 

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The place ticked a lot of boxes – relaxed, friendly and personable service combined with great tasting food. I could’ve done with double sized portions once again, however it was well flavoured and cooked on point. My adventurous side coming out again with an order of Keralan king prawn, and rewarded me with a delicious dish, juicy sweet prawns, the green beans still had bite and a sauce which could’ve been too sweet from coconut but was counteracted with the lime and ginger. Similar to Jaipur, I found the food more refined than some of our previous experiences in the town, 

Great news to hear that Rays Indian is opening a permanent street food stall in the town centre’s Market Walk, it may even be open now. 

Both Jaipur and Ray’s Indian I’d recommend for a tasty refined curry! 

Jaipur

49 Chertsey Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 5AJ

Rays Indian

Unit 8 -10 Victoria  Road, Woking, Surrey, GU22 7PL 

Bombay Night, Woking 

This is from a few weekends ago, so sorry for the slow write up! I’d stayed south for a bit with a couple of races in the diary, the second of which was the Nike Women’s 10K. It’d been a great morning running alongside other women, from serious athletes to complete novices, it felt very empowering even when I was being passed on the outside! The sun was out and it turned out to be a scorcher of a morning where I left London after bagging a new PB, a glass of champagne to celebrate and another bit of bling. Once I’d got back to Woking I fancied a Sunday evening curry as you do, a little surprising as when it gets warm I tend to stay away from hot and spicy food. 

We’d tried Thali Thali recently which was good, but wanted to see what else Woking had to offer so searched the web for ideas. One of the main streets in Woking’s town centre is Chertsey Road, it’s lined with a mixture of well known establishments like Nando’s and the like, but just down the road are Thali Thali and a few others including Jaipur and Bombay Night, both with similar menus the latter possibly a little less expensive. 

We arrived at Bombay Night first so went for it, getting there early doors the place was empty, however hardly surprising at 6pm. Staff seemed friendly and drinks were quickly ordered, but for whatever reason they brought over a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Sauvignon Blanc for my husband; he’s allergic to red so we definitely didn’t order it. Thankfully it was quickly remedied, but after a number of minutes of waiting.

It’s standard to start off with popadoms and pickle tray, so who were we to argue and for once there was a lime pickle that I actually liked. Usually I can’t handle the spicy sourness probably because I’m a bit of a wuss, but this was much gentler. Not to say we both liked it though as my husband tried it just the once. 

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The starters tasted good, in particular the mixed kebab with really flavourful, tender meat and a kick of heat. They were possibly a tad smaller than we’re used to, but I suppose the saying quality over quantity and all that’s there for good reason. One niggle with my dish were the prawns, it was going well until I saw a few with those awful veins which need removing. Such a shame.

Mixed kebab
Prawn puree
Prawn puree

Even though our main courses were completely different dishes, apart from one being prawn and one chicken they both looked very similar. Both dishes known for not being particularly spicy were The bhuna tasted good, there was loads of prawns, but again there were a few with those horrible veins running through them, it’s an annoyance removing the horrible offenders and then getting on with eating it. The other half’s garlic chicken was as it’s name suggested with plenty of soft chicken and garlic, so all good there.

I enjoyed my curry overall, the sauce wasn’t ridiculously orange like some I’ve seen. The prawns, even though well cooked, it’s really annoying when a number of them are not clean and have that horrible black vein running along them. If I’d found them early on I’d have said something, but I’d already eaten a portion of it. But then it got me thinking if I’d already eaten some of the bad ones…the thought turns me a bit sick. 

Prawn bhuna
Garlic chicken
Keema rice

The garlic naan wasn’t the largest I’ve ever had, but it was garlicky and great for mopping up the curry!

Garlic Naan

I think from the two we’ve tried so far, I’d definitely go back to Thali Thali over Bombay Night

Bombay Night

39 Chertsey Road,

Woking

Surrey

GU21 5AJ

http://www.bombaynight.co.uk/about%20us.html

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Thali:Thali, Woking

Friday was spent driving down south to spend the weekend with my husband, the drive was plain sailing until the usual M25 sluggishness, the best thing it afforded was a perfect view of planes coming in to land at Heathrow, as we were directly under the flight path. I’m no plane spotter by any means, but if I’d been a passenger rather than the driver I’d have taken a picture for sure! 

We both fancied dinner out and my first thought was to revisit Soya, the spot where I’d tried my first bibimbap recently, but they were fully booked so we left in search for other options. Not knowing the area that well, we knew we could get some insider knowledge from my brother in-law; he works in the area and recommended Thali:Thali on Chertsey Road, in the heart of Woking’s town centre. 

The place is stylish and modern in its interior, with tables and leather seating lining one wall, then more intimate booths on the other; certainly very different to a more traditional curry house. 

Now being a frustratingly slow reader it took me an age to decide, the menu was extensive and seemed to celebrate dishes from different regions, including as their name would suggest a thali. All the while my husband was helping himself to poppadoms and the pickle tray, as you do! Talking of pickle trays – something I liked was the decent portion of red onion chutney to go along with the trio of sauces, usually you only get a piddly amount and it’s one I always want more of. 

    

When we arrived it was around 7:30pm, just three other tables were occupied so it was fairly quiet. By the end of our meal it was at least three-quarters full with a steady stream of customers and had a good atmosphere. The background music was clearly audible, but it was easy enough to have a conversation with the person opposite. 

To start we were brought dishes called multani jheenga and a Kakori kebab. The menu had stated the Kakori kebab, a regional dish was made by mincing lamb seven times, so we expected an ultra smooth texture. Combined with fried onions, smoked green cardamom, saffron and nutmeg – the final product was certainly smooth, with spice that built gradually and worked well with the raita to temper the heat a touch. My king prawn starter was lovely, the prawns were large and meaty, encrusted in fennel seeds and barbecued giving them a delicate smokey/aniseed taste which allowed the sweetness to come through. As they didn’t have a sauce, the pickle tray came handy again here too. Only three prawns, as big and meaty as they were, I would’ve loved more as it wasn’t the most generous of portions. 

Kakori kebab

Multani Jheenga

For the main course, the other half had ordered a Thali combo with lamb and chicken, whilst I ordered the Murg biryani, a bit of a departure for me, as normally I’m prawns all the way when I have a curry, and also I’m dead boring and go for prawn bhuna with garlic naan every time!! But at Thali:Thali, the menu’s full of regional offerings and there was no hint of a bhuna, vindaloo or the more predictable curries you may see on a menu. The thali had lots of elements and was definitely a bit of a feast, as this was the case it would’ve helped if the waiting staff had given the heads up to what was in each bowl. To me it wasn’t really that obvious, for some of it anyway. On taste he said it was very good, working his way through three quarters until it got a little rich and was too full to finish it off. I helped myself to the naan bread for my biryani which was excellent!!

Combo thali
Combo thali

I’d gone for a Murg biryani – cooked and served in a Handi was chicken and basmati rice, the chicken was incredibly moist and the rice perfectly cooked. Again the subtleness of spicing was a pleasant surprise and a definite departure from those over-spiced curries I’ve had in the past.

Murg biryani with raita

Overall I thought it was an evening well spent. The food was great, waiting times weren’t particularly long and we enjoyed lovely service throughout.

Thali Thali

33 Chertsey Road

Woking

Surrey 

GU21 5AJ

http://www.thali-thali.co.uk/main/index.php

 Thali:Thali on Urbanspoon

Corner Cafe, Leeds

I love a good curry, I don’t do hot curries but I do enjoy a flavour packed one! That Sunday I’d walked around Haworth and was full of pie and chips at lunch, but I’d also greedily organised to meet a friend for dinner that evening weeks before.
Corner Cafe on Burley Road has been on my list for years, but for whatever reason I’d never been. After a little bit of research I found that the original Corner Cafe opened a
s a small transport cafe in Sheepscar, in 1976. Since then the business has seen a number of changes, including relocation, and a refurb in 2010. A mezzanine floor was added making the most of the space (apologies for the awful photos, was relying on my iPhone!!).

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Their menu has about 10 or so starters then an extensive list of main courses to choose from, plenty of choice for carnivores and vegetarians to get their teeth into! Divided into sections; chicken, meat (mutton), keema (minced beef), fish, king prawn, kablichana (chickpeas), aubergine, okra, spinach, mushroom, kidney bean, egg and paneer.

Being still quite full from lunch I decided against having a starter, my friend on the other hand loves food wasn’t going to follow suit, choosing the fish pakora. For the main course, we both went for Keema (minced beef), one with with spinach and mushroom pilau, the other with peas, garlic naan and an okra side dish. A couple of popadoms with a pickle tray, including a green chilli chutney and mango chutney were called for too! You’ve just got too when having a curry!!

The popadoms were lovely, embedded with cumin seeds adding great flavour, the accompaniments were very good, especially the chilli chutney, with flavour that wasn’t overpowered by too much intense heat.

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The fish pakora were very food, big chunks of white fish (not sure what type), coated in batter and fried. The batter was golden and crisp, the fish soft and flaky, for £4.50, I thought it was reasonably priced. 

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Fish Pakora

Next up the main courses, if you glanced at both dishes it could be easy to think the dishes were the same, but portions sizes were decent and they smelled great. Curries can be made to personal preference in terms of heat strength, so I edged to the side of caution going for mild, while my friend went medium. Taste-wise, we agreed they seemed to have the same strength of heat, but both possessed plenty of flavour and neither had accompanying ingredients (spinach or peas) playing second fiddle.

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Keema with spinach
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Keema with peas

Our accompanying dishes mushroom pilau, okra and garlic naan, all went down a storm, my rice was lovely and had lots of mushroom, flavourful with cardamom, and for want of a better word was just really tasty. I love rice so I could’ve eaten it as a dish on its own! Opposite me I saw clean plates, he happily polished it all off and ended dinner with a delicious kulfi. 

Mushroom Pilau
Mushroom Pilau
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Okra
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Garlic naan

I’d recommend the Corner Cafe!

Our bill for 2 was £45, including a tip.

Food: Extensive menu, lots of choice! Well cooked, good flavours!

Service: Friendly, attentive without being in your face. 

Atmosphere: Quite busy and a popular spot, good atmosphere. 

Corner Cafe
104 Burley Rd
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS3 1JP
http://kateghaurimoore.wix.com/cornercafe

 

Corner Cafe on Urbanspoon