Restaurant Review: Sails on Lavender Bay

Sails on Lavender Bay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Oh my goodness.

This is the best way to describe each and every item that came to our table.

Here is the link

We went to Sails as a nice lunch date to celebrate an anniversary, and boy was it worth it! On lavender bay, close to Milsons point, with a magnificent view of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, lies this cute little restaurant. It’s located right next to the ferry stop, and it is kind of cute to have the customers arrive by ferry before stepping into the eatery.

We decided to drive there, because unfortunately we were short on time :'(. We stepped inside to see the array of awards received by the restaurant and walked into a cozy and very warm room filled with the noises of happy customers and the smell of delicious food. Honestly, every person was smiling. We were greeted wonderfully by the head of the waitstaff who directed us to our tables with a gorgeous view of the water.

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The first thing I noticed, before I even get to the food, was the service. The table next to us were eating the Sails degustation menu. This is a truly hefty menu that requires at least 2 1/2 hours to devour. The servers would come over to them and not only explain the food they were about to eat, but deconstruct the matching wine right from the flavours in it to why it matches the food. I loved this addition.

Our service was equally as wonderful.

We began the meal by the complimentary fresh baked bread with home-made chive butter, and a whole butter with leek ash (what even.). The butter was divine. The bread was so bloody soft and warm. The balsamic salt to go with it was the perfect addition. The bread came to us so warm, I cannot get over it. I dunno, I guess it’s the little things that make a world of difference.

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This was followed by a wonderful and tangy fennel soup as the amuse bouche. (Can anyone pick up on the friends reference here???). This soup was so light and creamy and tangy and fun all at the same time. It was the sort of soup that came in the tiniest cup that could be drunk straight like a shot, but really should come in a massive bowl with dunking bread to eat in the middle of winter. It was delicious.

Now to our actual order. So far… this was just complimentary…

Entree: 

  • hiramasa kingfish tataki, cucumber caviar, kimchi, rice paper
  • scallops (the item I ordered isn’t on the online menu… so I actually cannot quote it 100%)

Mains:

  • grimaud duck breast, eggplant, baby cos, bacon powder, grape must
  • The day special of a crispy skin cod served with scallops, fennel, and well… a lot of deliciousness

Dessert:

  • pineapple and coconut eton mess, pineapple sorbet, passionfruit jelly, coriander
  • chocolate hazelnut pavé, white chocolate and yoghurt mousse, sorbet, caramel crunch

We also ordered a side salad of broccolini, sugar snaps, snow peas, squash, cumin, lime.

Alright. To deconstruct our order.

The entree. My work were they wonderful. My scallops came with this delicious creamy mayo liked sauce. It was tangy and spicy at the same time, with some sort of a citrus infused rice cracker and bacon, that looked to me liked it was smoked and cooked in a delicious sweet maple syrup. Honestly, it was truly phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in my reviews before 😛 The scallops were so incredibly flavoursome, which is saying something. They were soft on the inside but just lightly crispy on the outside.

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The kingfish was equally as incredible. I wasn’t expecting the kimchi flavour to be as amazing as it was. The cucumber caviar was such a surpirse! We couldn’t pin point the little green balls on the plate until we looked back at the menu. The dressing all over the meal was incredible and the little pieces of freshness in every bite. The spice was not overpowering at all and we could still taste the delicious tender kingfish below the layers of superb flavours.

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The mains were just as wonderful. The daily special cod was amazing. The skin was so amazingly crispy! It sliced apart so easily. I love a brittle crispy skin. That’s how you know its perfect. The meat was tender and juicy and flaky and served on a bed of spinach that had been wilted down in this delicious sauce. I really wish I knew what was it. I really do. The scallops were different in this meal! They were seared too, but weren’t as spicy. In fact they were kept a little more bland to soak up the flavour of the sauce and compliment the fish perfectly. The addition of the fennel was interesting. it added a tartness to the meal that was actually so welcoming. I know this special probably won’t be there if you do go… but damn was it delicious.

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The duck breast was equally as incredible. The skin was crispy and perfect, and the meat was so succulent and tender. The nutty flavour of the duck was truly delicous when paired with the bits and bobs of salad on the plate. It didn’t look like much when it came out, but boy did it fill us up. I was so pleasantly surprised by this meal. The meat wasn’t chewy at all, but each and every bite of the meat was different and delicious. Whatever they had used to tenderise the meat most definitely worked. The whole thing was wonderful. I recommend this one to you all.

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The side salad was so surprising too. If possible, grab this too. It seems so simple with the broccolini, snap peas and squash but oh the dressing. That dressing was so light and subtle but so flavoursome. It actually was the perfect accompaniment to the fish and duck. It added so much freshness to the deep nutty flavour of the duck and the tangy flavour of the fish  and sauces.

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Now to the dessert. The eton mess was delightful. It has coconut meringue, and a truly delicious pineapple sorbet that I could eat forever. Honestly it was stunning. The passionfruit jelly was equally amazing and was just perfect. There were chunks of fruit in the mess and it was just a little piece of fruity heaven. For a dessert, I think this was one of the lightest I’ve had. It’s great for a fairly full tummy!!

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My dessert was the hazelnut pave and oh gosh was it decadent and rich. I thought it was a little too rich for my liking but I did finish it nevertheless because it tasted like a bloody fancy nutella for a princess and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. The crumbs with it were crunchy and tangy, while the entire pave was dusted with a bitter coffee. It actually cut down on the rich sweetness which I didn’t mind at all. The white chocolate mousse was delightful and delicious while the sorbet was a little tangy. The caramel crunch was just the perfect little thing to add to bite between bites.

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Okay… let’s get to the score before I kill you with my words about incredibly wonderful food.

Food: 10/10

Seriously do I really need to add anything more?

Service: 10/10

It was wonderful and kind and well… just plain nice 🙂

Ambiance: 8/10

I think the fact I could see the ferry stop bugged my a little, and it blocked out view of the bridge. Plus the restaurant did get really loud, but it might be because of the slightly tipsy couple next to us that progressively used more and more swear words

Originality: 10/10

Seriously. An eton mess with coriander? What even. It was amazing.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

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Sweet and Spicy Balsamic + Mustard Chicken Roast

Some flavour combinations were made to be. One of those combinations has to be balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Add a touch of heat to it, and it is always a huge winner. I had eaten really tasty chicken tenders marinated in balsamic and mustard for 6 hrs, and cooked on a bbq some years ago, and the taste of those delicious pieces still haunt me.

Now this recipe can be thrown together in no time at all. As soon as you are home, throw it all together, pop it in the oven and let the oven do the hard work for you. The marinading of the chicken is really optional because the moisture from the mustard and the vinegar helps to maintain the tenderness of the chicken. I normally add a touch of water to my chicken whenever it’s roasting, or some chicken stock (depending on what I have on hand) to ensure that when it’s done the chicken doesn’t turn out dry. This really is a problem with chicken breast, but it’s a good idea anyway :).

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So I just marinaded the chicken straight in the baking tray, and that went straight to oven. #savedoncleanup! Just mix together the hot sauce, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, and some parsley too. Coat the chicken well and this is something I just like doing – add the garlic under the skin of the chicken so that you get that intense garlic flavour throughout the meat. Oh and the hot sauce! How could I forget.

I picked up some Byron Bay Chili hot sauce and oh my goodness it is phenomenal. I use it in so many marinades and it even made a feature in my Bang Bang Broccoli recipe and it was incredible. This hot sauce has mango in it, so it has that delicious sweet mango taste, but an intensely hot chilli finish. It is deceptively hot, which I just love. You can use tabasco, or sriracha even, but if you are in Australia… please just do yourself the favour and get your hands on some of this stuff.

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Now20170228_181031.jpg you want to cook the chicken for around 40 mins to the hour, depending on the thickness of your chicken. I used chicken drumsticks because they were on special (haha), but any cut of chicken would do. Remember to check if it’s cooked by just cutting into the thickest portion and ensuring the meat is cooked through.

 

Here is the recipe card, and trust me it is so worth it. Your kitchen is going to smell absolutely divine! Oh and be wary that you are going to get plenty of back bits, which are not for eating. Just remember that the hot sauce and mustard do have some sugar in them, so naturally these sugars are going to caramelise in the oven. You could absolutely use some of the left over flavour juices and sauce to make yourself a different stock, but I would avoid using those charred bits altogether.

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And that is it! It’s easy, and it is totally delicious. Mid week chicken dinners do not need to be a chore. It’s a cheap cut of meat, and it is an easy recipe to follow so it is perfect for those looking for a budget-friendly and healthy meal. I like serving the chicken with some onions that have rested in some salt, pepper and lime juice, along with a big heart salad. This chicken recipe is a great way to get that protein in your diet, and pair it with plenty of greens such as rocket, kale or spinach for a carb free and incredibly delicious dinner. If you find the heat overpowering go ahead and add some cheese, such as feta or ricotta, to your salad to allow your tongue some cooling creamy goodness.

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Review: Belle’s Chicken

Belles Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For a casual meetup after work one night, in my first week no less, a couple of friends and I decided to head to Barangaroo in the heart of Sydney city for some good American style friend chicken. Thankfully I only had to walk for 10 minutes from work, which wasn’t too bad.

Now I hadn’t heard much about Belle’s. The only thing I knew was that it was a place to buy chicken. Surprise surprise!! What I didn’t know was that they had an interesting range of spicy-ness which of course was a huge point of interest for me 😛

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In terms of the menu, it is short and concise. Only wings, drumsticks, tenders, and ribs on offer in terms of the chicken. Each of those comes with a side, which I thought were interesting. In a way I do like that the menu was so small and meant that the focus was completely on those few items. The real variation is in the heat of the chicken topping. Now they offer some fish and steak too, and burgers, but it’s clear from everyone eating at Belle’s that it is the chicken you really need to go for.

We opted for southern chicken tenders, the mildest option, with a broccoli and almond salad with blue cheese sauce, medium drumsticks with the house chips, and another round of medium drumsticks with the pickled vegetables both with ranch sauce.  The Bar at the restaurant looked pretty good and was actually the front of the counters. We saw two fancy looking liquids and ordered both – the lemonade with cardamom and house tea.

The tenders, I thought we great. Tenders are just such a simple choice, and Belle’s does them fantastically. The chicken was crispy on the outside and beautifully moist on the inside. The blue cheese sauce was equally amazing, and rich and just slightly pungent. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the broccoli and almond salad mainly because I couldn’t taste the almond and the sauce was a little off almost bitter tasting. I ended up dipping the chunks of broccoli into the blue cheese sauce to just lift the flavour a little.

The medium wings were SALTY! This was just such a shame because the spice level was really lovely and manageable. But that salt content, was off the roof. Dipping the chicken into the sauces helped, but only slightly. The chicken left me feeling fairly parched, and thankfully we had that lemonade and tea to help the chicken go down nicely. The chips were decent, and with the ranch sauce tasted just like other chips to be honest. The pickled vegetables were nice, and tangy, and went well with the crunchy and spicy chicken.

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The drinks? LOVED THEM! The tea seemed to have some saffron through it, which was just so different and tasty. The tea wasn’t overly sweet which was great. I loved the cardamom in the lemonade. It kept it warm yet refreshing and wasn’t overdone at all. The drink was just laced with the spice.

Now for the voting?

The menu: 7/10

I liked the simplicity, but I would like to have seen a few more sides perhaps?

Ambiance: 9/10

Honestly Belle’s loses a point only because on the view of the cranes still constructing the Barangaroo area which does ruin the sight line a little. Otherwise the outdoor decked setting is really wonderful to enjoy the night in. That along with the fairy lights on the roof – spectacular.

The Food: 7/10

I loved the tenders, but not the salad. The spice of the drumsticks was good, but unfortunately that salt was far too overpowering. I’ve given extra points for the excellent drinks, but otherwise the food was fairly average.

Service: 7/10

The line moved fairly slow, and there really wasn’t much interaction with them. Overall they all seem fairly friendly, but perhaps more talk with them would be nice!

Average score: 7.5/10

Would I go back. Probably. Who says no to fried chicken that doesn’t make you sick?

Spicy Tamarind Tava Fish

What do you do when you have some beautiful fillets of Basa at home? You hurry up and cook something delicious with them! Before I get to the recipe, I want to say this one can be made with ANY good white fish. Basa is a great cheap option, but pomfret or even kingfish would have to be my preferences. Of course go ahead and use cod or halibut, though I would avoid Hoki because it does have a very overpowering smell and flavour.

Now this recipe is definitely one from India, and it is definitely amazing. This style of fish is one I’ve eaten at an aunt’s house who hails from a different community, though within the same language group. I know – India is a little complicated in that sense. Okay a lot complicated *sigh*. Point is, fish is not something I grew p with, and this particular style of cooking fish is not something you would see in my specific community. It is, however, so delicious… it’s ridiculous.

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This recipe use a lot of tamarind pulp. You can usually find a bottle of this in th e Asian food aisle of your local supermarket, or head over to an Asian/Indian grocery store. Something a little off the original recipes is my addition of ginger, only a little, to brighten up the flavour. Now ginger is something I tend to add to a lot of my recipes because of the overall health benefits that come with it – trust me a little bit of it in your diet will go a long long way. Back to the tamarind – if you are able to find tamarind in block form then you can soak the same amount in some warm water for a couple of hours before removing the pulp from the mixture and using that. It does take longer, but of course fresh will always be better.

 

Let’s also talk about the marination. There really isn’t much to it apart from the fact that you want to give the fish at least 30 minutes to soak up in all the wonderful flavours. This tenderises the fish, and also just laces everything with the marination, which I just love. The maximum time to marinade the fillets would be 2 hours for uncut fillets like I used, but 30 minutes if you are using small chunks. After the fish is done marinating, we coat it with a mixture of rice flour and a touch of semolina for crunch. This will essentially glue the marinade and the flavour to the fish, while giving you a delicious toasty and crunchy topping to bite through. Even talking about this has me pretty damn excited.

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The ingredients for the marinade itself are really straightfoward. Start with the tamarind, some dried chilli, chilli powder, a touch of turmeric, asafetida, some corinader, a pinch of salt, crushed garlic and minced ginger – BAM. You need to soak the dried chilli in a 1/2 tsp of hot water for 10 minutes before transferring the chili to a mortar and pestle, and crush away. The final marinade should be nice and thick, but smooth overall. You have to rub the marinade into the flesh of the fish. If you plan to use skin-on fish, then use a sharp knife to just score the skin. This way the intense marination flavour with get straight to the meat and the skin too. Yum yum yum!

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So here we have the recipe card! Do tell me what you thought about this one

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Review: Devon Cafe

Devon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

SO again, I’m sorta going through my backlog of posts here *sigh*. Such are the hassles of taking time off from blogging, but loving food and restaurant hopping too much to let it go. I figured I should start my new reviews with possibly one of my go-to places for brunch in the city – Devon Cafe. Located on Devonshire street in Sydney, this place is quaint and kind of looks out of place in a fairly old and run down looking street.

Is this place my favourite? Well it’s high up on my favourites list, but yes I sometimes do have mixed feelings about Devon. I am a big fan of their breakfast items, but not so keen on some of the lunch items – particularly the sandwiches. But nonetheless, this cafe is a fabulous and bustling place to head to for a decent meal. The portions are pretty huge, and I can only call the prices moderate.

Now for the run down of the meals.

Let’s start with the Breakfast with the Sakuma’s 

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This comes with a truly delicious miso grilled king salmon fillet, smoked eel croquette, kewpie mayo, 63° egg and radish salad. Firstly, look at that plating!! Isn’t it stunning??

The salmon was incredible. It was flaky, and tender and flavoursome with the rich miso laced throughout. This was complimented so well by the creamy avocado and salad alongside breaking through the richness of the fish. The egg was cooked so nicely, with a yummy runny yolk allowing me to drench everything in the tasty yolk. This yolk acted like an interesting and rich sauce, with the kewpie mayo, for the smoked eel croquette.

Now I was genuinely afraid of the eel croquette, considering I have never eaten it before *yikes*. But when I took a bite, I fell in love. It was smooth, smokey and full of flavour. The crunchy coating matched that beautiful smokey smoothness, and thankfully not any part of this was soggy. The entire fried thing with the yolk and mayo was truly divine.

Next up – Egg’s Blini

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So here we have buckwheat blini’s, topped with cured Salmon, avocado, poached eggs and some broccolini. 

Now the little Blini pancakes were light, they were fluffy, and they were simple to rip apart and savour with the salty cured salmon. Now the salmon was a little too salty for my personal preference, but the creamy sauce and the avocado did break that down a little. The broccolini has a bit of a bite to it, and tasted delicious soaked in the runny yolk of the poached egg, and the creamy sauce poured all over.

Finally – (awkward moment when I forgot the menu item and it no longer is actually on the menu!) Chorizo and Blood sausage, with harrissa and crispy potatoes.

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Now this was a little daunting for me. The blood sausage in particular. I guess I just play it really safe with my foods? I don’t know. I never grew up eating items like blood sausage, or eel.

The harissa was spicy and fragrant, and was amazing when paired with that sausage and the crispy potatoes. Oh the sausage? So incredibly rich, with that beautiful chorizo spicy flavours. The egg complimented everything in this meal, and that is really all that I can really say about this one!

Now to rate:

Food: 8/10

I think there are items on the menu that are fabulous, and others that are kind of average. Breakfast with the Sakuma’s is probably the best thing I’ve eaten here.

Service: 5/10

To be frank I found the service slow, and a little bored. It took a while for the waitress to come to our table with the menus, then to take the order, and then with the food. Sure there is always a rush at Devon, but the time it took did bug me a fair bit.

Ambience: 9/10

Oh Devon is so cute and the courtyard has to be my favourite. It bustling and busy and always a little loud. It makes the experience fun, and when there is such a big crowd… you know it is a good place 😀

The Menu: 9/10

I love how experimental this cafe is with interesting flavours and meats to go alongside brunch classics like pancakes, salmon and your simple salad. This is something that really makes Devon stand out.

Overall Score: 7.75/10

Is it worth heading there? For sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Avo Smash, poached Egg and Eggplant

MAKE BREAKFAST AMAZING AGAIN.

and make it at home.

SO many people spend anywhere between 15 – 30 dollars on their Sunday brunch, each week! Now, if you are willing to put in the 10 minutes of time it will take to make the food, you are going to save so much money. This particular recipe is so simple and easy, and you can actually make most the elements ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to use in other recipes. To top it off, there are plenty of ways to tweak this recipe for a new flavour each and every time, that way each Sunday will be amazingly special.

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Here comes the tricky part – the avocado. Why is it tricky? How many times have you cut open an avocado thinking it is the right softness to use, only to find it horribly hard or yucky and black? Oh it happens to all of us. The trick is to just understand the firmness. When you grab the avo, I normally do this with my non-writing hand to check, it should be firm enough to give a little resistance, but soft enough that you can push the skin in. Some people seriously have a knack for this.

To the avocado I always add some kind of cheese. In this recipe I went for cream cheese, but some delicious crumbly feta or ricotta are perfect substitutes. If you are vegan, then go ahead and add just a touch of Silken tofu to add a delcious creamy element to the avocado smash. I also add a hint of sumac because I just love the tangy spice that it provides, a squeeze of lime, which preserves the green color, and some parsley too. If not parsley you can add chives, or dill even to just freshen up the avocado even more. You can also add a touch of paprika if you like a little heat to your breakfast.

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In terms of the egg, I went for a yummy runny yolk by poaching my egg, but my parents personally love a good ol’ sunny side up. So no matter what the preference, you can use it. If you prefer scrambled, then add some of the cheese you used in the avo smash to the eggs. To poach the egg – I cannot believe I forgot to take photos! – add a touch of lime juice or vinegar to your pot of hot water. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, generate a vortex by making circles in the water using the end of a spoon. I like to crack the egg into a little bowl before  this point to make life a little easier because once the vortex has been made, you just want to slide the egg straight into the centre, slowly and gently. The egg should swirl around and essentially fold up on itself. I remove the egg as soon as I can see that the white has cooked off using a slotted spoon, but keep cooking the egg to your liking. Make sure you set it aside to dry off a little on some kitchen paper.

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Now this is the part I do beforehand. The roasted eggplant and the tomato-basil sauce. Stay tuned for the recipe, but any kind of tomato relish or even left over pasta sauce would work well. For the eggplant, I cut it up in thin slices and placed them in a roasting tray. I coated the eggplant generously with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper and roasted them at 180 degrees celcius, until the eggplant is beautifully golden and soft and has started to caramelise a little.

Here is the recipe card for this particular breakfast recipe!

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Easy Chicken Cacciatore

This has to be a recipe that I have been wanting to make for at least a whole year. Countless times I have looked at the recipe, tried to prepare for it, but then it just never happened. So many times I saw this recipe on televisions, Food network ftw, and so many times did this recipe pop up on my you-tube ‘recommended list’ . What is Chicken Cacciatore??

So according to my research, it is an Italian chicken recipe which literally means a Hunter style chicken pot. It’s tender chicken cooked in a tomato sauce keeping it moist and literally falling off the bone. The ingredients in this recipe are so simple and easy to find. Sure it does take some time, but you won’t regret it at all… trust me.

Now typically you should use chicken marylands, but I went ahead with drumsticks because I had them on hand. Essentially you could use any cut of chicken, but to maximise the flavours you definitely want to use bone in and skin on pieces. This way when you brown the chicken in the initial stages of this recipe, you essentially render down the chicken fats. Then you end up cooking all the wonderful vegetables in this flavourful fat and well, everything becomes super delicious.

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This recipe uses what I would call the ultimate flavour trifecta (maybe 4-fecta. What is the actual word for this?) , onions, garlic and celery. Oh and add carrot to that too. In this recipe I think these are the essentials. I like using plenty of garlic, but of course that depends on your own taste. Now there aren’t any real spices apart from salt, pepper, and chili flakes, which makes the flavour so true to the vegetables in the recipe and so light on the stomach too.

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All of this combined with good ol’ canned tomatoes and you get this insanely delicious sauce, rich in flavour, and rich in texture too. The tomatoes will need a bit of sugar and extra salt to cook them through well, and soften down the chicken, and of course to cut the sourness of the fruit.

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What makes this recipe so great? The fact that it is literally so simple. You just have to let stew away for a really good 30-40 mins until the meat just seperates from the bones and the tomatoes have caramelised slightly. Here is the recipe card, and see for yourself just how tasty this one ends up ❤

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