Londoneer: Samosa Session @ Chilli Chutney

I’m glad that I’m a bit of a foodie, because here comes my second restaurant blog entry of the week. Courtesy of my friends at Qype (and TikiChris in particular) I was down in Streatham earlier this evening at Chilli Chutney.

You can find Chilli Chutney amongst a small group of bistros just down the street from Streatham’s 1930s era Odeon Cinema, and it’s not at all what you’d expect. In fact, there’s no flock wallpaper at all – instead you’ll find a bright and airy modern space where you can even take a seat at the window to watch the world go by. The differences don’t stop there either, as this restaurant specialises in cuisine from Lahore, located in Pakistan’s Punjab region, so apart from the usual staples you’d expect to find there are a whole range of specialities, some of which are new to me, and I thought I was quite well-versed in food from the Indian subcontinent.  

My main reason for being here tonight was to take part in a samosa-making event and so, after some introductions and a few samples of the restaurant’s dishes (including some slices of a very-moreish Roghni naan unique to the region – a soft, flat bread made with yoghurt and eggs and dusted with sesame seeds) we were invited to gather round for instruction on how to make the perfect samosa. Using a blend of eight spices, plain flour, water and the filling (in this case lightly spiced potato and peas and, for the meat lovers, lamb mince and peas) some of the restaurant’s expert chefs lined up to show us how it was done. They certainly made it look very simple and straightforward, but then I hadn’t taken into account the fact that these guys produce several hundred of these little parcels each and every day. My clumsy attempt, in contrast, was a disaster – I ended up with a scotch-egg shaped lump of pastry with a big bulge of filling in the middle which bore no resemblance to the delicate triangles the chefs were rapidly piling up on the table!

After the samosas that we had prepared were cooked and served we then sat down to sample some more of Chilli Chutney’s signature dishes. We were presented with a delicate lentil dhal and also an aromatic chicken achari (another speciality of the house), along with some more bread, including what I was reliably informed was a stuffed naan, but what a surprise! Clearly the cooking techniques from this region differ from what I’m used to, because instead of the bubbly, soft bread that is served at my local restaurant (and which, frankly, I find a bit sickly) this was dense and firm with a thin uniform layer of filling running through it. Like the rhogni we had tried earlier, it was very, very good indeed. 

In summary, we had a very pleasant evening in very nice surroundings, and the food and service at Chilli Chutney was excellent. In fact, …

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London’s Weekend Of Festivals – E17, SW8 & N1

This weekend marks one of your last opportunities to enjoy some community-organised music and merriment in London this year, but never fear – people in the East, the South and the North are all catered for with three festivals across the capital.

From Friday 6 September to Monday 9 September, over in E17 it’s the music-focused Stow Festival which takes place at pubs, bars and cafes across the area – most of the gigs are free! On Saturday afternoon you can also check out the Walthamstow Acoustic Massive who will be taking over the town square (that area between Natwest and BHS), and there’s a musical tour of Walthamstow taking place at 2pm. You can follow their Twitter feed to keep up to date.

On Saturday afternoon from 12 until about 5:30, SW8 gets in on the action with the Stockwell Festival, which takes place at Larkhall Park. There are three spots when you can enjoy live entertainment – the main Stockwell Stage, the Community Performance Quarter where you can learn some drumming and zumba, and the Cabaret Tent (which is over 18s only so expect things to get a tiny bit saucy – there’s a burlesque workshop if you’re brave enough). Again they also have a Twitter feed to follow.

On Sunday the third annual Cally Festival arrives at Caledonian Park in N1 (regular readers will remember that it hosted the remarkable BABEL late last Spring). Again split across three stages – the Main Stage, a Youth Stage (based in an old Airstream trailer) and Story Street, which is an area set aside specifically for kids, there’s something for everyone. The Cally Festival also involves a street market which will offer everything from gourmet food to garden plants.

Whatever the weather there’s no excuse not to get out and about this weekend, unless you live in West London that is – but you guys had the Notting Hill Carnival recently so it’s only fair that the other points of the compass get in on the act, right?…

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Cool Places To Buy Kitchenware & Kitchenalia In London

London is a hub for quirky, effervescent, unique shops, market stalls and charity outlets that sell a range of fantastic items for every room in the home.  One place that I like show my personality is in the kitchen, and for this reason I have become an expert of some of the more cool, and occasionally wacky, shops in which to find some fabulous kitchenware to really stamp originality on my home.

Palmers Green (North London) offers a superb selection of charity shops where, if you take your time and peruse carefully, you can pick up some unique items for your kitchen which are unlikely to be found in your friends’ kitchens! Likewise Portobello Rd has some marvellous second hand stores which can lead to amazing discoveries that can add character to your kitchen without breaking the bank.

An expert in this field, Vincent from leading design company Increation shares the fact that:

“One of my favourite’s stores is Divertimenti. It’s a pleasure to spend time browsing and cooks heaven.”

Check out the shop the next time you are in town and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

If money is no object then luxury stores such as Harrods and Liberty might have what you’re looking, as they juxtapose the traditional beside the unusual, creating ideas and must haves for all types of people.  My favourite purchase of late was a moustache corkscrew from Liberty which always raises an eyebrow at dinner parties!

If you find yourself in Islington make sure to pay a visit to the Gill Wing Cook Shop – the proprietor used to run the Cookshop at Harrods.  This delightful store offers possibly one of the best kitchenware range in the city and caters for all types and tastes.  The reason I am drawn here time and time again is because of the vast knowledge that the stop manager and assistants possess – no question goes unanswered and they really can help with any and all of your kitchenalia needs.

Covent Garden market still holds a host if unusual finds for the kitchen and taking a stroll up Kensington High street or Oxford Street will lead you to Urban Outfitters – true, they’re mainly a clothing retail outlet but on occasion they stock some fab kitsch items that can really brighten up a kitchen.

If you want to give your dinner parties a Japanese twist, head along to the Japan Centre on Regents Street where a fascinating choice of Miso bowls, chopsticks and Sukiyaki pans await you. Once you have all the utensils that you need to cook Japanese food, they can also supply some of the key ingredients to help you make a fabulous meal.

Finally, to really put a piece of London next to your breadbin you may want to consider a trip to the one of London’s major museums. Once you have finished marvelling at the beautiful works of art you can investigate the shop – you’ll be surprised at the number of …

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