Tag Archives: curry

Winter Warmers 4: Srilankan style “Puttu & Kuzhambu”

In this 4th post for the Winter Warmers Series, I wanted to share with you two recipes close to my heart. It’s actually the food that I crave when I return home after a long holiday or time away from home. You can’t beat the comfort that comes with this meal and the flavour and texture combination of these together are just divine!

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So the first is for ‘Puttu’ or ‘Pittu’. This is a healthy but really delicious main dish made with steamed rice flour and is found very commonly in Sri Lanka and Kerala. It’s usually the centre of the meal around which sits various other accompanying dishes and the Puttu soaks up all the flavours from each and is filling too!

The second recipe is for ‘Kuzhambu’ or ‘Kulambu’. This is accompanying dish to the Puttu and is made with a tamarind gravy into which sits sauteed vegetables. My favourite type of Kuzhambu to go with Puttu is ‘Kathrikkai’ (Aubergine) Kuzhambu as the aubergine just melts in the mouth and this vegetable absorbs the tamarind and spices so well to give this amazing aroma….yummm!

So I hope you enjoy these recipes and do let me know if you try them out yourselves or eat them at a Sri Lankan restaurant near you 🙂

Suji x

Puttu

(serves about 2 – 4 people)

What you need:

  • 2 cups steamed red rice flour
  • 1 cup shredded/grated coconut (0r dessicated coconut soaked in 1/2 cup water)
  • Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
  • Hot water – keep about 4 cups aside but you may need more or less depending on the consistency

How to make it:

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and make into a loose dough (but you don’t have to knead it like bread). Then, flour your hands and then roll the dough between your fingers so the dough looks like large breadcrumbs.

I quite like this You Tube video showing a Puttu technique using your hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8JZC1vQikA

OR

1. Put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse, adding the water a little at a time to get the same consistency.

If either method makes the dough too wet then you can just mix in a little rice flour.

2. Mix in the coconut and then place in a steamer. I usually cover the bottom of my steamer with a thin & damp cloth/muslin. The cloth must be big enough to then wrap up the Puttu mixture. You don’t need to tie the ends of the cloth, just place it over the mixture.

3. Steam until the Puttu is cooked fully, approximately 10 – 15 minutes (the aroma will be so nice and you will start to smell the fragrance of the coconut too!), and serve with a delicious curry like Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (see recipe below) or Soya Chunks & Beans curry.

If you have roasted moong dal flour, then you can add about a tablespoon of this with the red rice flour to give an even more aromatic Puttu  🙂

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Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (Aubergine in a Tamarind Gravy)

Aubergine is called “Kathrikkai” in Tamil and is a great vegetable to use in this kind of tamarind gravy or “Kuzhambu” as we call it. It is a comforting dish served with hot steamed Pittu or Rice. Chickpeas are not traditionally added but I think they compliment the Aubergine and provides a good portion of protein. The Aubergine is also traditionally deep fried, which obviously tastes yummy, but not healthy. So roasting the aubergine is a great way of still keeping the flavour and texture without a great amount of oil. The only thing with roasting is that you need a little more time, but it will be worth it in the end, I promise you!

This dish tastes great the day after cooking it, as it gives the aubergine time to soak in all the flavours. This is one time when I think Srilankan curry powder is a must and I, personally, think it really doesn’t taste the same with other masala’s.

What you need:

For roasting:

  • 3 medium aubergines (about 500-600g) 

  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric powder

  • 1-2 teaspoons salt 

  • Oil – enough to coat all the aubergine

For the curry:

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

  • 1 large onion , diced 

  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or chopped

  • 2 sprigs curry leaves 

  • 2-3 green chilies, slit lengthways 

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (alternatively, the juice of a lemon sized tamarind soaked in water) 

  • 2 teaspoon Srilankan curry powder

  • 2 teaspoon chilli powder (or more if you like it quite spicy)

  • 200ml thick coconut milk 

  • 250 ml water 

  • Salt to taste (approx 1 – 2 teaspoons)

How to make it:

1. Cut the Aubergine into strips of about 1 inch in width and about 3 inches in length. Be careful not to cut the aubergine smaller than this as they may burn. At this point you can place the aubergine in a microwaveable dish and heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes. This is so they won’t absorb too much oil in the oven.

2.  Add the salt and enough oil so all the aubergine is coated well. Place in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, turning them over half way through and adding a little more oil if they look too dry. You may need to adjust the timing of this according to your oven and you need to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn too much.

3. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoon of oil. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters add the green chillies, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Add the sliced garlic and sautĂ© for about a minute. Then add the diced onions and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and cooked through. They may turn brown at the sides but that’s ok – it adds to the taste!

4. Add the salt, curry powder, red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the tamarind paste and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and water. Cover and cook until it thickens. Add the pinch of asafoetida and the roasted aubergine, chickpeas and combine gently. At this stage, if you are not vegan, then a splash of double cream makes a really yummy, rich taste. 🙂

5.  Cook for another 5 minutes and serve with hot Pittu or rice.

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Filed under brunch, Desi, Dinner, Food, indian, Kerala, Lunch, mykitchenadventures, recipe, south India, south indian, Sri Lanka, Srilankan, sujiskitchen, TamBrahm, tamil, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

The month of new years

I know January 1st is when the new year starts in much of the Western world, but April marks the start of the new year for a number of eastern cultures. The Thai new year “Songkran” is from 13th – 15th April and any festivities that last more than a day is a winner for me 🙂 The Singhalese Buddhist as well as the Tamil & Keralan Hindu New Year is celebrated on 14th April and this is the date that my family celebrate our new year. Coincidentally, Sikhs celebrate ‘Vaisakh’ on the 14th too. Although this is not the Sikh new year, it is a celebration of the founding of the Khalsa, the collective body of baptised Sikhs created in 1699.  So basically it’s celebrations all round this month and a great way to #CookEatInspire 🙂

 

COOK

So for the Thai New year I have my version of  Thai Green Curry.  This is my standard recipe that I have used for years but I don’t see any harm in using a good ready made paste from the shops if you just want to make this in a hurry. However I find most shop bought Thai Curry pastes don’t have enough of a spice kick and I often end up adding some spice anyway! So if you fancy using the Thai New Year to make this delicious curry here’s how it goes:

thai green curry PM

What you need:

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp Thai green curry paste (you can use shop bought paste which are generally good, but I find these are not hot enough and not the right quantity)
  • 100 grams mushrooms cut into the same size chunks as the Tofu (I use the chestnut variety)
  • 200g of a mixture of other veg e.g. aubergine, broccoli, courgette, babycorn, green beans, peas, carrots
  • 200g of firm tofu – cut into bitesize chunks
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • A dash of light soy sauce
  • a handful of basil leaves (Thai basil leaves if you can get them but other varieties are fine too)
  • A few fresh green chilies (optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt

How to make it:

  1. Crush the garlic and slice the green chilies.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the crushed garlic and fry till it turns light golden.
  3. Now add the curry paste. Saute on a low flame till the raw smell disappears. Now add all your veg and fry for 2-3 minutes, increasing the flame. Add a pinch of salt and let the mushrooms cook a little until they have released moisture.
  4. Now reduce the flame add the coconut milk. Season the curry with salt, sugar and a dash of soy sauce. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes and add the tofu. Let the curry cook for a few minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavours according to your taste. Add some more sliced green chilies if needed. Let the curry simmer till the mushrooms are completely cooked. Make sure not to boil the curry as the coconut milk may curdle. Turn off the heat and throw in the fresh basil leaves.

Serve over hot rice, quinoa or noodles. I find this curry also goes well with Lotus Root Fry.

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For Tamil New year it is traditional to make a sweet dish as part of the celebrations and this usually comes in the form of either a type of ‘Paayasam’ or other sweets or ‘Mithai’. Those who know me well know I am not at all a sweet tooth and so I came up with something that wasn’t too sweet or with lots of Ghee oozing out of it and infact uses natural sweetening agents. Date & Pistachio Ladoo’s are really easy to make but you will need a food processor/blender (but not imperative) if you want to make it super quick. A sweet celebration without the guilt! 🙂

1 PM

 

This makes x16 bite size Burfi balls or x8 bigger Burfi. (Yes I know there’s 15 in the photo, but there has to be a treat for the Chef you know!)

What you need:

  • 140g pitted dates
  • 30g pistachio nuts (other nuts can also be used like hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan)
  • 2 teaspoons Chia seeds (these can be omitted if you don’t have any to hand)
  • 2 to 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons Maple syrup (or you can also use honey if you are not Vegan)

How to make it:

  1. Put the nuts and Chia (if using) in the blender and blitz until you get the texture you want. I usually aim for a texture that’s not too fine and more coarse. (I sometimes take out some of the ground nuts at this point and use it for an extra coating at the end.)
  2. Then add the dates and maple syrup and blitz again until all ingredients are well combined. If the dates are really hard, you can soak them in hot water for about 30mins if you wish.
  3. Roll into your desired size balls.

You can also dip these in chocolate or dessicated coconut for a more decadent version!

3. Place the balls in individual cases if you have them. You don’t have to put them into cases but they look special if you do:-)

4. Place on a tray or plate and keep in the fridge to firm up a bit for about 15mins. You can also keep these in the fridge overnight or for a few days before you want to eat them. Just make sure you take them out about 30mins before serving so they aren’t too cold to eat.

I have previously added 2 tablespoons of Horlicks too to give these ladoo’s malty taste and I reduce the amount of Maple syrup to balance the sweetness in the Horlicks. Do try any other flavour combo’s that you think will work with these 🙂

2 PM

 

 

EAT

I have been dying to tell you all about an amazing Supperclub that I went to recently!!!!!! (the silly number of exclamation marks show how excited I am!) It’s run by the lovely ladies at London Chai Party and they have been making delicious food together for a number of years now. Their latest Supperclub is called ‘The Big Bong Lunch‘ and is a humongous 7 course Bengali feast. Yes indeed. You did read that correctly. SEVEN COURSES! I could hardly walk after consuming this amazing feast, but it was worth it and I recommend you go to this Supperclub with a completely empty stomach and an ability to pace yourself during this gastronomic party. The dishes are from West Bengal and Suchi explained that they would typically be eaten during a big celebration like a wedding.

 

One of my favourite dishes was ‘Shukto’ which reminded me of the South Indian ‘Avial’ but of course was very distinct as the spices were very different to Avial but was very light and comprised of delicately cooked vegetables. I could have eaten a whole plateful of it! 🙂 But of course I couldn’t because that would mean I missed out on the rest of the courses – no way! I would love to tell you about all the other courses but you really must try if for yourself and any further descriptions on my part would definitely spoil it. But take my word for it that you will not be disappointed. Each course has been cleverly thought out by the talented Suchi, Gayathri and Nisha and Suchi’s passion and love for her Bengali roots definitely comes through in the food. I really can’t wait for the next Supperclub by this amazing trio and their wonderful team!

If I have got you interested and drooling for more..then click on these links for their next exciting food events: The South Indian Brunch on Sunday 24th April and The Big bong Lunch (the next date TBC) and not forgetting the yummy delights at the Chai Party (sign up for future dates). And if you are in the Sutton Area the London Chai party team will be at the Pop Up Market there on these dates:

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Thanks to a dear friend of mine, I learnt a few weeks ago was that there is a vegan & vegetarian PUB in central london! I know ! My eyebrows lifted quite high too when my lovely friend told me about it! So one rainy day in Soho, my friend took me to this quaint pub called The Coach and Horses which was easy to find at the end of Greek Street in Soho. The restaurant has a weird entrance inside the middle of the pub, but once you are upstairs you can’t hear the ruckus downstairs and you enter a serene ‘living room-like’ restaurant. It has quirky interior decor which makes it even more endearing and my friend and I eye-up the vegan cakes as we are taken to our seats (i am so going there for afternoon tea!).

Apologies for the poor quality photos below, but it was taken with my phone in dim lighting.

The menu is seasonal apparently, but all I needed was comfort from life that evening so I shared a delicous French onion soup with my friend and then delved into some wholesome ‘Tofush & Chips’.

Delicious French Onion Soup

Tofush and Chips

The Tofush and Chips which I haven’t eaten before was quite satisfying but I felt it did lack seasoning and I think next time I’ll try out the Celeriac, Chesnut & Parsnip Sausages that my wise friend ordered 🙂  Deeeelish!!!!

With our tummies full but still yearning for that sweet kick at the end of our meal, we ordered the Chocolate and Walnut Brownie with Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate sauce. Wow, it definitely hit the spot and I would highly recommend it! I loved the mixture of soft and crunchy and it was impressive to hear that they make their own ice cream ..nom nom nom.

It’s commendable that they mixture of both vegan and veggie choices on this menu, but for fans of Tea & Coffee, I’m afraid they don’t serve hot drinks for dinner. I was SO disappointed to say the least. No hot drinks for dinner? What is that about?!?!? When I questioned this, our waitress said that they turn off their big water heater after tea time and it takes too long to turn on again. Haa ha haaa!! Haven’t they heard of kettles? I hope they really change this restriction as there is nothing like a hot cuppa after a satisfying meal. But I am definitely coming back to sample more of this menu and especially the vegan cakes (AND TEA!) that I couldn’t fit in during this first visit 🙂

I have explored plenty of other eateries in and around London so watch this space for more reviews and recommendations 🙂

 

INSPIRE

Something that has inspired me this last month is a beautiful food blog by the very talented Rekha Shivakumar. Resh Kitchen has a variety of delicious vegetarian recipes and contains very easy to follow instructions and needless to say, lots of droolworthy photos! I think the great thing about Rekha’s recipes are that they are kept simple – nothing crazy or over-the-top. It is simply, delicious ingredients cooked to perfection for her love of food! Having grown up in a Tamil Brahmin family, she has the richness of this culture in her dishes and her recipes are also taken from all around India as well as other parts of the world. You can tell she cooks from the heart and do sign up to her blog to ensure you don’t miss her yummy recipes and she’s also on Twitter , Pinterest and is so popular on Instagram too!  Do check out her latest reviews and recipes!

rekha

I am lucky to know Rekha and I often explore restaurants and pop-ups around London with her, the very talented Nessy (follow her for the release of STUNNING photos in her upcoming portfolio!) and other foodie friends. Recently we went to Borough Market in London Bridge and check out Rekha’s post on our visit to Pulia .

 

I am inspired especially by those who are wonderful food photographers and I can tell you more about these fab people in my next posts…I hope you will be amazed as I am by their talent!

   *  *  *

Another read that has inspired me is the new FREE food mag! It’s called ‘Foodism‘ (I totally love the name!) and has lots of fab articles about restaurants, the latest food fad, great chef’s and not forgetting the amazing pop-up’s that are taking London by storm.  You can sign up to find out when exactly the magazine is published but at the moment it’s going to be every other month. And you don’t have to be in London to read it (brilliant!), you just register your details on line and you can read it digitally. Very environmentally friendly!

I got my copy! Have you??

I picked my copy up on the way back from London last week and I loved reading about Tomasina Mier’s new venture, a yummy Apple Tatin recipe, some intriguing restaurants and there’s lots of competitions too. And this is just a fraction of what’s in it! I still can’t quite believe it’s free and I’m looking forward to what’s in store in the next issue 🙂

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Finally, to finish my post I wanted to bring you to the attention to this hilarious #tambrahm website called We Are Tambrahm. 🙂 For those of you new to the term #tambrahm, it’s short for ‘Tamil Brahmin’ – a tamil person who has been born into the caste of ‘Barhmin’s’ originating from Tamil Nadu. Now many disagree with using this term at all in this current time, but you cannot deny the amazing FOOD that is attached to this label.  This type of food is what I grew up with and that has inspired my blog and love of food and it’s part of my identity.

wearetambrahm

The ‘We Are Tambrahm’ Instagram page

So this forum We Are Tambrahm is a great site for typical #tambrahm quotes, sayings, traditions and of course…food!  You have to read it to get what I am saying and there are some great writers out there who contribute to this community blog. They are also on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram…yeyyy!  Look forward to reading more and I am sure lots of TamBrahms out there are already preparing their Paayasams and Vadai’s for the “Puthaandu” (New Year) celebrations this week!

 So..here’s wishing a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all those who are celebrating and watch this space for more #CookEatInspire posts 🙂

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Filed under Food, food festivals, TamBrahm, tamil, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetarian

The purple fruit

Aubergine, eggplant, baingan, kathrikkai…call it what you will! But this veg. Vegetable? Ahem! Actually it’s a fruit would you believe and is one of my favourites! There’s so many different dishes that I have seen from around the world that use this versatile purple plant so I decided to share some of my recipes with you. In English I use the term ‘Aubergine’ and although in botanical terms is classified as a fruit, it is often thought of as a vegetable and used in mostly savoury dishes. However I have seen it used once as a dessert and I am perfecting this to share with you one day 🙂 So the first recipe I have using aubergine is one which is a fusion from India and Persia and is called “Baingan Borani“. Borani is a term used in Persian cooking for a dish containing a cooked vegetable in a yoghurt gravy. We have a South Indian/Srilankan version which uses Aubergine burnt over a flame and I love the smokiness that this ‘pachadi’ (yoghurt salad) gives. I have also seen very similar yoghurt and aubergine recipes from Greece and Turkey and we couldn’t get enough of it during a trip to Istanbul. Baingan Borani is so flavourful that you don’t really miss the heat that you might usually add into such dishes and so it marries well with spicier side dishes or a spicy biryani or pulao.

Baingan Borani2

Baingan Borani (Aubergine in a Yoghurt Sauce)

The next Aubergine dish is a srilankan classic. “Kathrikkai Kuzhambu” is a favourite in many Srilankan households and is so yummy with Srilankan Roti’s, Pittu, Idiyappam or rice. The aubergine is the best product to soak up the spicy tamarind gravy and just melts in your mouth. I personally love this dish a day after it’s been made as the flavour really intensifies after 24 hours, but sometimes I just can’t wait that long!  When I was young, it’s one of dishes I used to ask my mum to make after a holiday abroad and it’s definitely a family favourite. I actually don’t know many Srilankans or Indians that don’t like it!

Kathrikkai Kuzhambu1

Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (Aubergine in a Tamarind Gracy)

The third dish incorporates aubergine in a stunning salad. Spring Salad with aubergine and Quinoa requires some time for preparation but really is a beautiful dish and will have your guests asking for the recipe. This salad is great during hotter months and as it uses Quinoa you veggies out there will be able to get your protein fix too 🙂 Although I have named it as a salad, you could have this as a meal on it’s own as it contains so many different nutrients and so flavourful. The earthy aubergine hits the tangy feta and the sour and sweet pomegranate and it’s like an explosion in your mouth!

spring salad3

Quinoa salad with Aubergine

Finally, one of my favourite aubergine dishes from the Orient is Chinese Aubergine Chilli Tofu. This is soooooooooo good with just steaming hot jasmine rice or noodles and I love it especially during the colder times of the year when you just want to have some comfort food. You can make this as spicy as you like and vary some of the vegetables depending on what’s in season. But the base should be kept with Aubergine and Tofu as the texture of these two ingredients I think are really important in this recipe. Oh gosh, I’m salivating just at the thought of this dish!

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Chinese Aubergine Chilli Tofu

So I hope you enjoy these recipes using this stunning dark purple fruit and do let me know what you think! Suji x

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Filed under Dinner, Drink, Food, indian, Lunch, vegan, vegetarian

Is it Feb already?!

Wow. It is February. In the New Year. 2015. Whaaaaaaat?! A little freak out here!! I had so many plans (as usual) and so many things I wanted to have completed by now. Usually I would heave a big sigh and start moaning how I need to be more organised and moan about how little time there is to do everything….blah…blah…blah. But this year, unlike the “usual me”, I have brushed off the list of things I still haven’t done and can happily say ” oh well” and that I will definitely get around to it. It’s ok if I haven’t done it. For those of you who are like me – a control FREAK! – then you’ll understand how the aforementioned actions can be tough. A REAL challenge in fact!

Ok, so before you send me to see a psychiatrist, haa haa, here’s my first blog for the new year. Yeyyyy!  In addition, this month also commemorates a year since I started this blog and for me it’s proof that time does fly when you’re having fun 🙂

My inspiration for the latest set of recipes, come from the need of comfort food. No matter where you are in the world, you always need that feeling that your food is like a huge hug in your mouth and makes Life feel better again. Oh yeah…you know that feeling. So my first recipe comes to you from the Far East country of Thailand which brings heat and spice to warm up even the most Icy of Queens. My Thai Green curry is just my take on a big comfort food that my family and I love and I think the only difference really is the quantity of veg. Usually the Veg Thai curry that I eat at restaurants are yummy, but lack veg and I normally fight over the last pieces of veg with the person I am sharing it with. So my Thai curry does have a few vegetables that are not traditionally found in a Thai Green Curry, but I think nevertheless absorb the flavours and go together well. I am not going to preach about making your own Thai curry paste either, as the shop bought ones are not bad at all. However like most things, homemade makes a better and fresh taste and you can make it according to your liking. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Thai Green Curry with Lotus Root Fry and Quinoa

I have also had requests for a couple of traditional recipes and I have written ones from one half of my family, Sri Lanka. Pittu is a great alternative to having rice with curries and is also healthier as it uses red rice which has more nutrients and is less processed than white rice apparently. Most of the time it’s steamed with grated coconut, but is equally yummy with greens and other grated or finely cut vegetables like carrots and cabbage.  My family and I love Pittu with Aubergine in a tamarind gravy (Kathrikkai Kuzhambu) and Soya & Beans curry. My recipes are slightly different to the traditional ones as they don’t involve frying the veg in a lot of oil and use baking and steaming instead to retain maximum flavour, nutrients and most of all that all important comforting feeling. 🙂 I’d really like to know your thoughts on these if you try it out, or what your favourite dishes are to go with Pittu.

Pittu1

Last, but not least is a sweet and satisfying dessert. I was saddened to hear that the King of Chocolate, Mr Michele Ferrero passed away a few days ago. His chocolate were the only ones that were favourites in our household and I can’t remember a Christmas without Ferrero Rocher. Good times indeed and I know his chocolate will be remembered for many more years to come as they are timeless flavours. I myself am not a chocaholic in the slightest, but Ferrero Rocher and Nutella I do love when the craving arises. So in tribute to the late Mr Ferrero, I have written my version of Nigella’s Chocolate cheesecake using Nutella. A big hug of chocolate to start a great year ahead I feel :-). Click here for the recipe and I hope you like it!

choc cheesecake PM

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Lunchtime!

image

Quinoa with Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower) curry….perfectly delectable! 🙂

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This is an interesting article about London’s most famous curry houses on Brick Lane. Brick Lane is a very famous and historical street in London and has been identified with the flourishing curry trade since the 1900’s. The article states that the local Council is experiencing anti-social behaviour and wants to cut the opening hours. But isn’t the root of the problem the cheap prices that are leading people to behave this way? Should the Council take more responsibility and spend the money on more police vigilance and not ‘pass the buck’ by asking the restaurateurs to close earlier?

Read the article here.

#curry #restaurants #bricklane #london #foodie #antisocial

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February 6, 2014 · 11:02 am