Blog - Curry Twist

Masala Omelette In Canterbury, UK

Canterbury is synonymous with the history of Christianity in Britain. It was here that the first missionaries from Rome established a church in the sixth century and it has been a place of worship since then. The present cathedral is a magnificent building that was built by the Normans in 1070, only a few years after their invasion of England.

The throng of pilgrims visiting the cathedral stimulated the growth of a lively town around it. Inns, taverns, shops and other establishments to feed, house and entertain the visitors sprouted up over the years. Much of the mediaeval plan of the town is still preserved, giving you an idea  of what it must have looked like centuries ago.

Of course, there is no shortage of travellers going to Canterbury in modern times either. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain and every year receives millions of visitors, some brought by religious devotion and others simply by their love of English history and culture.

The first place where visitors to Canterbury go is, of course, the cathedral. Under the soaring arches of this church you can feel the presence of ancient kings and queens who prayed in front of its altar, and were crowned, wed and buried within its walls.

The most famous name associated with the cathedral is perhaps that of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury in the twelfth century, first a close friend and then a bitter opponent of King Henry II. When the king cried out in frustration "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest!",  four of his knights murdered Thomas Becket as he prayed in a chapel, which became a famous pilgrimage site. There is now a monument to his martyrdom in the cathedral and a candle is kept burning at the place that he fell.

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A visit to Canterbury should always include enough time to see the lovely town as well. On your way to the cathedral, you will see the River Stour cutting a swath through town, affording many a picturesque spot from which to take that perfect photograph.

The Old Weaver's House, built on the banks of the River Stour is a historic building dating back to the 14th century. Flemish and Huguenot weavers fleeing persecution, settled here to practice their trade, creating a flourishing textile market in Canterbury.

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Canterbury also has a memorial to its most famous chronicler, Chaucer. Pack along a copy of the "Canterbury Tales", for there is no better time to read its rollicking stories, ranging from the sublime to the frankly bawdy, than a trip to the town that inspired the original book.

Narrow cobbled streets flanked by half timbered medieval buildings converge upon a small 800 year old market square called the Buttermarket. Formerly known as the Bullstake, this is where bulls were tied to a stake overnight, to be harassed by dogs in the belief that this would make their meat tender. Thankfully, this barbaric practice ended a few centuries ago and the stake has now been replaced with a war memorial.

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The Old Buttermarket pub in the square is a great place to stop by for a bite to eat. Their delicious food comes with a side of history!

A pub has stood on this site for over five hundred years, connected to the cathedral by underground tunnels that were often frequented by escaping monks.

One of our favourite pub breakfasts while traveling in England, was this delicious masala omelette, served British-Indian style with a dollop of tomato ketchup. It brought back memories of home!

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A fluffy omelette with the freshness of herbs and veggies, carrying just a hint of spicy curry, is a great way to start or end your day. Sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese over top while the omelette is cooking, add a few pieces of warm naan and you have the makings of a perfect meal!
If you're looking for something more classic (and less spicy!), check out my French style omelette here.

Masala Omelette

3 eggs

2 tbsp milk or water

1 tbsp each, finely chopped: onions, tomatoes, fresh coriander leaves

1/4 of a hot green chili, thinly sliced (optional)

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp curry powder (optional)

1 tbsp butter

Beat eggs with milk or water in medium mixing bowl until lighter in colour, about 2 min.

Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the butter. Mix well.

Warm 1 tbsp butter in a large non stick frying pan over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into pan. Tip pan in a circular motion to distribute egg and vegetables evenly in the pan. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until eggs are set, about 3-4 min.

Uncover, fold omelette in half and transfer to a plate. Serve right away.

Serves one-two

Spicy Chicken Keema In London

"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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

Serves four

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Crepes In Versailles

Louis XIV was never a man to believe in understatement. When he decided to renovate his father's hunting lodge in the little village of Versailles, the final result was a palace that still staggers the imagination. It served not just as the home of the king, but also as his seat of government and a residence for all the aristocracy of France. Much of French culture and style was developed in these sprawling hallways, while courtiers conspired and intrigued in a never-ending scramble for power and influence.

The Hall of Mirrors is the most impressive part of the palace. Its walls are lined with mirrors, which in the seventeenth century were an incredibly expensive luxury. The workmen who made them had to be enticed from Venice, at the time the only place where the technology to make mirrors existed. The Venetian government was so enraged at the loss of their monopoly that it dispatched assassins to eliminate the renegade craftsmen.

Every corner of Versailles is stuffed with paintings, sculpture, and furniture, all overlaid with gilt and silk. It remains a remarkable monument to the man who was revered as the Sun King, and enjoyed being portrayed as a Roman god.

The breathtaking splendour of the palace spills out into it's gardens, which are dazzling in their symmetry. Laid out in 1661 by André Le Nôtre, they stretch out into the horizon in an enchanting display of manicured lawns, tree lined hedges and colourful flower beds. As you walk deeper into the gardens, you will see many lovely marble sculptures, imposing fountains and even an orangery with orange and lemon trees.

Taking in the grandeur of the palace and it's gardens can be exhausting. We revived ourselves with a pitcher of cider and crepes! Crisp crepes with lacy edges remind me of South-Indian dosas, made with fermented rice and lentil batter. Stuff them with eggs, ham and cheese like the French or with spicy potatoes as in India and you have yourself a fabulous treat!

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Buckwheat crepes, also known as galettes have a deep, earthy flavour that pairs well with savoury fillings such as eggs, ham and cheese. Serve them with a side of Ratatouille or a fresh salad for a delicious meal.
Try your hand at making Indian crepes, a delicious variation made with chickpea flour.

Buckwheat Crepes

Crepe Batter:

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

2/3 cup (1/2 cup+2 tbsp) all purpose flour

Salt to taste

2 eggs

11/2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

4 tbsp melted butter, divided

Crepe Toppings:

Grated Gruyere cheese

Thinly sliced ham

Freshly fried eggs

Combine both flours and salt in large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, milk, water and 2 tbsp butter until well blended and lightly aerated. Let stand 15 min.

Warm 1/2 tsp butter in large non stick frying pan or crepe pan set over medium heat.

Add about 1/3 cup of the batter and swirl the pan in a circular motion to evenly distribute the batter in a thin layer over bottom of pan.

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Cook until batter dries up on top and edges are crisped, about 1-2 min.

Sprinkle some of the grated cheese on crepe, top with ham and a fried egg.

Fold over edges of crepe in a rectangular package, leaving just the egg yolk exposed. Sprinkle some salt over egg yolk if desired.

Cook some more until crepe bottom is crisped up to your liking, about another min.

 

 

Serve crepes hot off the stove and repeat with remaining batter, butter and fillings.

 

Serves four