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:ย 

  • 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 pavรฉ, white chocolate and yoghurt mousse, sorbet, caramel crunch

We also ordered a side salad ofย 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 ๐Ÿ˜› 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 ย and sauces.

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Now to the dessert. The eton mess was delightful. It has coconut meringue, and a truly delicious pineappleย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

โค

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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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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 โค

chicken-cacciatore

 

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Review: Criniti’s Italian

Criniti's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For some reason or other, Criniti’s has become my go to restaurant. Need to go to a decent restaurant? Criniti’s. Need to go to a restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options? Criniti’s. Need to go somewhere closeby and/or has multiple outlets? Yup. Criniti’s.

So this particular review is based on all the vegetarian meals I ate. SO, meat eaters, this one isn’t for you.

I sound like a big advertisement :/ But in all seriousness. This is place is pretty packed on weekdays as well. During lunch there are always plenty of families, or people from work getting a bite. At night, the ambiance is warm and cozy and it is always someone’s birthday. Now the decor isn’t exactly to my personal taste, with the large mounted Ducati and spare parts adorning the place, but I absolutely love the visible wood fire oven, colorful bar serving some pretty great drinks (with plenty of Italian liquors and wines), along with the overall slightly vintage look.

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DEMOLISHED!

The service I have found to be very friendly, but a little slow. Particularly on weekdays! But alas when short staffed, this is bound to happen. The staff is most definitely patient however. It’s not all that customary for the manager to be serving food, but when needed he or she is also out there serving or cleaning up, which is something I really liked. I think it’s fantastic when the entire staff is working as a team ya know? #teamspirit. Much too often I’ve seen managers unprepared to do the dirty work. *sigh*

The menu here is pretty damn expansive, with regular pizza, white pizza, risotto, burgers, salad and so much more. The prices are a bit on the high side, but the portions are pretty large. I would generally say one plate between two people is the right amount. I love the drinks menu because of the excellent wine and beer range. Yes even their beer range is great. Typically I opt for a simple Riesling with my food, or a really good fruity White, coz I love my white wine. Dad went for a peroni, and I must say I did like it.

Alright onto the part that you really want to hear about. The food.

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We started our meal with the Tomato Brushcetta Pizza Crust, as an entree. Dad in paricular loves this one because it’s delicious and fresh. There is fresh tomato, basil and onion which have been rested in their own juices with some salt and pepper ofc. It’s such a simple combination, but it is a bang on winner. The garlic crust this was served on was wonderfully thin, with a thick but soft crust. The juices of the bruschetta softens the crust down so much… love it. In saying this however, this is something you can easily do at home, so for the price you are paying I would like to see something more original and extravagant. Even a hint of balsamic would have elevated this to another level.

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Next up we ordered the Penne Vegetarian. This was a delicious pasta in a magnificent basil sauce with eggplant, sundried tomatos, olives, zucchini and capsicum. I love it when pasta is loaded with rich vegetables, and this was just that. The sauce was a stand-out really, and in fact paired as a tasty sauce for the left over crusts from our pizza. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and so were the vegetables. I certainly would recommend this one for any vegetarians out there.

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This was followed by our next main -the ferrara pizza. This I absolutely loved. There was onion, capsicum, olives and the crust was so excellent. You could taste the light smokiness of the wood fire oven on it, which is just another added taste element. The only downside to this one was that it had cooled down a little before it came to our table. We could actually see our pizza on the counter waiting to be delivered to us. This was a bit of a bummer, but the pizza itself was great. On top of that, look at the large crust! This wasn’t a huge deal for us, since we did dip the crust in the leftover pasta sauce, but considering the price, I would have like to see more topping and less bread.

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And we did decide to grab some dessert too. We opted for the 3 scoop gelato, choosing salted caramel, lemon sorbet and cookies and cream (seriously how cute is the serving!!). The cookies and cream was PHENOMENAL. Truly it was so creamy and decadent, with chunks of little cookies scattered in the scoops. Each little chunk was a different size, and portion, so it added a great dimension of texture to the ice cream. The salted caramel was true bliss in a scoop and was finished by my sister in a jiffy. The least liked was the lemon sorbet, mainly because it tasted more like an icy pole than anything else!

Okay time to rank.

Food: 6.5/10

I’ve taken points off because of the brushetta and the pizza. The un-originality of the former, along with the price of it was a let down. As I mentioned above, I would have liked more of the topping than the crust that we got. Also the lemon sorbet gelato, well I didn’t really like it all that much.

Service: 5/10

This is really the let down. I understand busy, but having to wait over 10 minutes to even catch someone’s eye for the bill, did bug me. Oh and the bill was just given to us – a piece of paper. No book or anything!

Ambiance: 9/10

Apart from all the biking gear, which you actually lose focus on within 10 minutes, the ambiance is lovely and cozy.

The menu: 8/10

The menu has a number of items, but I would love to see some more original recipes.

Total: 7/10

Would I go back? Well yes. I’ve actually always had really good experiences at Criniti’s!

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Chicken, Chive and Cabbage Dumplings

Who doesn’t love good old dumplings? I for one absolutely love them, and I often head over to a good dumpling or yum cha place for lunches and dinner. Aah the chilli oil โค

Now dumplings are actually so easy to make at home! Yes they do take some time, but if you are prepared to put in some time and a little effort, you can make your own delicious dumplings at home. Now normally I would show/write about making the dumpling pastry too, however this time I actually used pre-made store bought gow gee wrappers which are perfect to make these delightful morsels ๐Ÿ™‚

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For me dumplings are like comfort food. In winter, in particular, you will fine me, a big bowl of dumplings, some chilli oil, and the entire series of New Girl, or Friends or Grey’s Anatomy. *Sigh* now you know I’m weird

Okay back to the recipe. I used Chicken mince, chives and cabbage as the title suggests, but I also added shitake mushrooms, shallots, ginger and garlic to the filling. I like to start the recipe by actually cooking off the vegetables, and mixing in rice wine vinegar, chili and soy while cooking these together. Then I mix in the chicken mince once the vegetables have cooled slightly.

I steamed my dumplings, and then pan-fried them. Nowadays you can find bamboo steamers everywhere (i.e. look in Kmart!), or you can use an Idli steamer (not even joking here). If you are using a bamboo steamer, it is IMPORTANT that you line the base. This is a MUST!! I line mine wither with baking paper (greased paper) OR some banana leaves or cabbage leaves.

You can alternatively pan-fry the dumplings, and then add some water, cover and then steam. I find my way a little easier, and there’s less a chance of any dough sticking or getting very mushy. It also means you get a lightly crunchy texture along with the smooth steamed dough when you eat these.

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Oh and the dipping sauces? I made an instant chilli oil – so simple. Make a quick paste of fresh chili, chili flakes and fresh garlic and mix the paste well into vegetable oil. Add some salt and pepper just to season, and set aside for a few hours.

The other dipping sauce was a mixture of fresh chilli, coriander stalk, soy sauce and some rice wine vinegar… and that’s it!

Folding the dumplings can be a bit tricky, but thankfully there are HEAPS of you-tube tutorials showing you the different ways to fold them. You basically have to stretch the dough and make tiny folds along the length of the dumpling, so it ends up looking slightly like a crescent moon. A pretty crescent moon.

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Alright now for the recipe. It’s a bit long, but trust me… these are worth it

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A couple of tips! Place your dumplings, once filled, onto a tray lined with baking paper (greased paper) to stop them from sticking to any surfaces. I basically use this lined tray for the entire process, and even serve the dumplings on them!

To serve, remember the dipping sauce! I also add some lime, fresh chili slices and a drizzle of chili oil ๐Ÿ™‚

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Restaurant Review: Green Peppercorn

Green Peppercorn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had heard so many awesome things about Green Peppercorn and I am so happy my bestie took us out to check it out. What better way to celebrate good friendship than with Thai food? I feel like its the perfect cuisine with the balance of the spicy, the creamy, the sweet, and the sour. Some of my favourite restaurants happen to be Thai ๐Ÿ˜› I think Green Peppercorn is a new addition to the list ๐Ÿ˜›

Tucked away above a bar, we basically completely missed the sign. It’s like those brain teaser tests, where there is a colour spelled out, and it’s written in a different colour. Like GREENย or BLUE.ย Furthermore, the sign is right in front of a staircase… so it definitely threw us all off a little. Anyway, up the long and funky staircase we went where on the ground floor there is a wall of mirrors and while climbing I just remember some form of cool painting.ย 

Once you enter the restaurant, it’s a loud and casual set up. On the left was the large and very well equipped bar, while on the right and ahead there are plenty of tables. We went on a Wednesday, so ofc a booking wasn’t really necessary. Now even for a Wednesday, there was a decent crowd… enough for the sounds of laughter and chatter to drift out to the staircase.

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The menu boasted with plenty of items to choose and select from. The drink menu was vast, and the food… blimey there was heaps of it. Green Peppercorn offers all the classics like green and red curry, pad thai and pad kee mao, while serving up plenty of the irregulars. The good thing is that there is a great selection of vegetarian options, and plenty of really exotic and fun flavours. I mean how many times do you see betal leaf and 2 pages of salad options? Not very often.

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We ordered the following:

  1. roast red duck curry
  2. thai papaya salad
  3. lamb massaman curry
  4. chicken pad thai
  5. pandan creme brulee x 3

The food came to us fairly quickly, and was served up with a beautiful steaming pot of jasmine rice. We accompanied our food with the classic coconut water ofc, served up right in a coconut. It really can’t get better than that in my opinion. The first thing i notice about food is the smell and boy did everything smell fabulous. First thing to reach us was the roast red duck curry and it looked and smelt divine.

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The first, and last time before this, that I had eaten duck… I honestly didn’t enjoy it. it was chewy and little odd tasting to me. So obviously I was a bit apprehensive to try this one, but alas… the bestie knows best! Her choice did not dissapoint! Now at first glance the serving size seemed really small… it is comfortably enough for one person. The plate itself was gorgeous, and you can see the beautiful roasted pieces of duck floating in the curry. The duck was cooked perfectly, with a light crispy skin and nutty meat. The curry was fairly mild but the green peppercorn (lol see what they did there?) and chili pieces packed some fire to the bowl. I definitely recommend this dish ๐Ÿ™‚

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Oh the papaya salad was stunning. It was light, and spicy, and sour and sweet all at the same time. How does that even happen!? The dressing was truly fabulous. I mean that was the real star of this dish… like good enough to spoon out and drink it alone. I don’t ask condone doing that. The dressing is quite spicy. It will clean out your sinus completely.ย Back on track. The salad. Get it. Because it is scrumptious and is a great way to compliment the creamy curries. My goodness… my mouth just filled up with saliva just thinking about it.

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The lamb massaman curry was another stellar dish. It was just so hearty and wholesome! This curry I thought was on the heavier side, and I definitely couldn’t finish it alone. I’m always a little worried with Lamb because it really does have to be cooked just right. Boy was this was perfect. The meat literally fell off the bone and my friends were left to contemplate whether or not they were going to tackle the marrow too. The meat was flavorsome and succulent, and the curry was lightly spicy but truly delicious. Another one to add to the recommendation list for sure!

As far as pad thai goes… I didn’t think this one really bought anything new to the table. At $12.90 I guess I expected something a litttttle better than the regular take out style ones, but I personally didn’t note much of a difference. On that note, it was still a really good bowl of noodles. Would I have it again there? Probably not… I think you are much better off trying something you wouldn’t find on a regular take out menu there – it will be worth the bucks.

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Now finally to the dessert. Oh blimey this dessert. I had dreams of this dessert. I still have dreams of this pandan, caramelly, coconutty creme brulee. The crack was perfect, the dish was delish, the taste was honestly heavenly. Even if you only go there for dessert… just get this. It is worth it. I want to go back just for this dessert. Back to the serious stuff. Size wise I think it’s a little too big for one person, as the boys realised after it came out, and is a perfect little dish to share between two. Its not too sweet, which is fabulous, and the coconut is not overpowering at all. In fact the coconut tastes real, and not synthetic like a lottt of coconut desserts nowadays.

And ofc… we forgot to take a photo of dessert -_-

I must add a note about the service. I wouldn’t call it fantastic, but it is decent enough for the evening. I felt like they took a little too long to come around to our table to take the order, but were in more of a hurry to clear the table away. Not sure if I liked that… but I thought I may as well mention it. One thing I did LOVE though was the fact that the general manager of the restaurant – the attractive bearded man roaming around the restaurant ๐Ÿ˜› – would go around to every single table to hear their thoughts on the food and offer up some light and funny conversation. He came around to us twice with something funny to say which I think was really quite great.

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Now to the ranking:

Food: 9/10

Perhaps even a full score… but I think the Pad Thai let it down.

Service: 7/10

I loved how the general manager came to us, but otherwise the service is really quite average

Ambiance: 10/10ย 

Green Peppercorn has really nailed this. The bar is fantastic and everyone was just so happy and casual which is great to see.

Originality: 9.5/10

The half point is only because of the fact that there was nothing new to the pad thai, but otherwise the expansive menu is truly original and truly wonderful.

Overall: 8.875 (to be exact) ย /10 (haha)ย 

okay 9/10 ๐Ÿ˜€

Yay food. Let me know what you think once you’ve visited this place! I would love to see if you thought different ๐Ÿ˜€

 

 

 

Spicy Garlic and Tamarind Fish

With this recipe I think I’ve realised that I cook way too much fish. I need to start cooking or at least sharing some of my chicken and other vegetarian recipes! That just means a little extra effort to come up with new and fun recipes. It’s okay… I am looking forward to it ๐Ÿ˜›

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Now a friend actually asked me to make a few more Indian recipes, like I mentioned in my Lahori fish recipe. So here is one of my family’s favourite simple fish curries that just works great with rice and roti. It’s a fairly basic curry, but I add a little twist to it to make it a bit more fun.

I use, like I always do, Basa fillets, which are great because they a cheap and work great in curry, BUT they are very flaky and break apart too easily. When it comes to curry, this makes working with Basa a bit difficult. To overcome this I went ahead and did a gram flour coating to the fish and fried the fillets off before making the entire curry. This process really is optional if you are using a more robust fish such as cod or haddock, but works fine either way!

Tamarind fish is one of my favourite dishes to make, and it works so oddly well with garlic! The sweet and sour flavour is complimented so well with the pungent and strong flavour of the garlic. This with the flavours of dried mango, cumin and coriander… you end up with this magnificent beast.

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Here is the recipe!

 

garlic and tmarind fish

It’s a bit long isn’t it :/ It’s okay… it really is fairly straightforward!!

Let me know what you think about this recipe! I don’t really know what else to write today haha. Just make it and eat it. Okay?

 

โค