Just like mother used to make…..
Authentic dishes from other regional traditions are equally difficult to find. But there are a few restaurants that deserve to be better known, especially as eating there doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The first of these restaurants is Woodlands, which has numerous branches in India and a 40-year history there, but only three relatively new branches in the UK.
The service was superb and the food excellent. The masala dosa was as it should be – thick and crisp, brown on the outside, soft white on the inside, with a generous and mouth-watering filling of spiced potatoes.
The coconut paste that goes with a dosa was exactly the way my mother makes it.
For starters I had salted lassi (yoghurt drink, which can be taken plain, salted, sweet or spicy). This is a north Indian drink, but it was properly prepared, at the right temperature, and generally better than what I’ve tasted in many a Punjabi restaurant.
My wife had a badam khir (a milkshake made with saffron and crushed almonds), and this turned out to be quite the most delectable drink she (and I) had in a long time.
To get the best out of this drink, you need to sip it and savour it rather than imbibe large draughts. But if you don’t like sweets drinks, you may prefer to start with a kingfisher, the Indian lager those slight gassiness in the mouth you can turn to advantage by accompanying it with popadoms.
Dahi vada (lentil doughnut in yoghurt) is actually a north Indian dish, but was so well prepared – light and full – that I feel compelled to mention. It, especially as a complement to the special upma (spiced cream of wheat with nuts) which was just a little hotter than most uninitiated Britons would enjoy on its own.
Their badam halwa (crushed almonds, milk and saffaron) melts deliciously in the mouth, and their shrikhand( from western India, really not too far from cheese-cake without the pastry) is creamy and smooth and sweet tart.
The kulfi ( a north Indian ice cream) is better than that offered by most restaurants, which simply buy it off a specialist supplier.
And it doesn’t have to be hacked at with a pick-axe, since they pre-cut it to an attractive pine-cone design.