"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life" said Samuel Johnson over three centuries ago, and that observation still rings true today.
It was thirty years ago that my husband and I first visited London. Fresh out of India, this was our first glimpse of a wonderful city that we had only read about. For three magical days we explored every corner of London, walking till our feet hurt and sampling all the amazing food that was completely new to us. It was only recently that we got the chance to visit once more, and it was magic all over again as we explored and rediscovered all that London has to offer.
London is a great city for walking, with its historical core being surprisingly compact. You can, in theory, cross it on foot in a few hours, but it usually takes longer in reality because there are always little surprises that grab your attention and make you linger.
There is something in London for everyone, no matter what your interests may be. Every step that you take in London takes you past a site where history was created. The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament are places that seem familiar even to people who may have never visited London before, simply from having read about them.
One of the greatest joys of being a tourist in London are the fabulous museums and galleries that you can visit free of cost. The British Museum and the National Gallery house some of the greatest treasures and works of art that the world has to offer. And when you have had your fill of looking at art, many of the churches offer musical recitals that are a delight to listen to.
A tour of London is just not complete until you've walked through some of its lovely, sprawling parks. No matter which part of the city you happen to be in, there is sure to be a park nearby with large shady trees, a convenient bench or beautiful green lawns just inviting you to rest your feet and grab a picnic!
One of my favourites was St. James's park with its tranquil lakes and fountains, glorious flower beds, lots of interesting birds and fabulous views of the city from it's famous Blue Bridge. Hyde park, with its long walking trails, the Serpentine river running through it, Victoria and Albert Memorial at one end and the famous Speaker's Corner where protests and rallies still take place was another memorable park to visit.
When it comes to eating out in London, you are going to be spoilt for choice! With restaurants serving every cuisine under the sun, you can have something different every day. Among the standouts we tried out were Veeraswamy for classic Indian, Hoppers for fantastic Sri Lankan, Berber & Q for smoky, grilled Middle Eastern fare, The Clerk And Well for incredible Asian dishes and practically every pub offering an amazing variety of meat pies, fish and chips and sausages.
We first had this delicious chicken keema with its phenomenal mix of flavours and textures at the very popular Dishoom Bombay Cafe in London. Head here for sunday brunch when they have a special menu reflecting typical Indian breakfast dishes, with creative British twists. I still dream of their masala baked beans in tomato sauce with fresh coriander!
I just love how the flavours of the soft gooey egg nestled in spicy chicken keema meld with the crunch of potato straws and crisp fresh coriander. The apricots add just a hint of delicate sweetness to the whole dish. You can buy potato straws from any supermarket or you can make your own spiralized ones in the oven. Whatever you do, don't skip them! Serve with warm naan or fresh dinner rolls.
Spicy Chicken Keema With Fried Eggs And Potato Straws
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated or finely chopped
4 large canned plum tomatoes, pureed
Salt to taste
1 tsp each, ground spices: coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb ground chicken (not breast meat)
4 soft dried, pitted apricots, halved
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 freshly fried eggs with runny yolks
1 cup fried or baked potato straws
Warm oil in deep skillet over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute for about 5-7 min until onions are softened and lightly browned.
Add tomatoes, continue to cook for 5 min until tomatoes are incorporated into the sauce.
Add salt and all the spices, cook 1 min.
Add chicken and stir until it is blended into the sauce with no lumps remaining.
Add the apricots and 1/2 cup of water. Mix well, cover skillet and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 min, stirring occasionally.
Uncover skillet and cook for a further 15 min until sauce is thickened and chicken cooked. If you want a thicker sauce, turn up the heat to medium to boil off some of the liquid.
Fold in the fresh coriander and lemon juice to brighten up the flavours.
Divide chicken keema evenly into 4 bowls. Top with a fried egg and scatter potato straws evenly over top.
Serve right away.