Lunch at Shampan at the Spinning Wheel

Set amongst rolling hills of the beautiful Kentish countryside is the plush Indian restaurant Shampan at the Spinning Wheel. I was invited to review their new Indian A la Carte menu which boasts of interesting combinations created using locally sourced where ever possible.

Shampan is located about a  half hour drive away from Bromley South overground station. One gets the relaxing feeling of getting away from the fast-paced rush that one feels while travelling around London. When you first walk into Shampan at the Spinning Wheel the fireplace instantly put you at ease while the sleek modern leather couches create an atmosphere of luxury and comfort. Perfect for pre-lunch or pre-dinner drinks the lounge reflects the owner Sufian vision to recreate the oomph factor you would experience while say walking into a modern 5 star in Mumbai. Highly regarded for its cuisine, it’s carefully crafted menu created by Chef Sadek Miah Shampan at the Spinning Wheel, has won many awards and accolades namely the British Curry awards in 2012 and Newcomer of the Year in 2013. They also have been awarded a certificate of excellence for 2015 by TripAdvisor.

Posh interiors at the Shampan

                                                                                        Posh interiors at the Shampan

It was a warm summer’s day and I choose to cool down with a Virgin Mojito and followed it up with a refreshing ‘Apple Julep’. A large basket of fried poppadums sprinkled with a tangy dry masala powder which had the right hint of green mango was so moreish it was almost impossible to stop at one. A host of chutneys and dips accompanied the poppadums that were constantly replenished by the very smart staff. Since we had a very long wait before lunch as some guests lost their way, I had another mocktail this time it was an Almost Amaretto sour but it was far too sweet for my taste.

Refreshing Mocktails at Shampan

                                                               Refreshing Mocktails at Shampan

After a tour of the beautiful premises we were seated and served some delicious starters. I choose the banana wrapped tilapia with coconut and coriander – a fine balance of delicate flavours in perfectly cooked fish. I have tried similar dishes at many Indian fine dining restaurants and ever so often it is not exactly what I look for – either the green chutney is not as pungent as it should be or the fish is not as perfectly cooked – somehow it’s always the seemingly simple dishes that are the most difficult to produce to near perfection. For seafood fans this dish is one you must most definitely try!

 

Banana wrapped tilapia

                                                  Banana wrapped tilapia

A look at some of the other appetisers on our table :

Tempting array of appetisers at Shampan

Tempting array of appetisers at Shampan

I am quite sure I could have had another portion of the tilapia had it not been for the massive portion size of my main – grilled duck breast with goan curry sauce and cumin mashed potatoes. The duck was cooked well and the mashed potatoes were lovely with the grilled potatoes. The sauce was not what I had hoped for though, ideally a Goan sauce should have been spicier and richer but the tomato over powered the other ingredients. I loved the  panner and tadka dal though, which I mopped up with buttery aromatic tandoori naans (with another helping of the yum poppadums!) .

All this while I was eyeing the delicious curry and rice mains the other guests were tucking into – particularly the Punjabi red spiced chicken breast with sauteed vegetables and pilau rice. I also loved the sound of venison smoked and cooked in Jodhpuri spices with crips okra – ummm what a fabulous combination. Another delicious traditional main was the Kerala spiced king prawn with a thick coconut sauce served with a flavoured coconut rice – ultimate comfort food! The grilled mullet was main looked great and I tasted a little but again the tomato like broth surrounding it was not a hit.

Grilled duck breast with goan curry

                                                                          Grilled duck breast with Goan curry

It was a particularly warm summer afternoon and we were served some fresh fruit smoothie’s – again very generous size serves and quite delicious too.

Fresh Mango and Strawberry Smoothies

                                            Fresh Mango and Strawberry Smoothies

A look at what the other guests enjoyed for their mains.

Tempting array of mains at Shampan

                                                                          Mouthwatering array of mains at Shampan

This is probably one of the most generous portion sizes of mains I have ever been served. Naturally that left no place for dessert which was an Indian dessert – samosa filled with gajar halwa with a dollop of delicious ice cream. I did not sample the samosa but did have some of the ice cream. The presentation of all the dishes especially the dessert was lovely and the service throughout was very courteous.

Desert selection at Shampan

                                                                                            Desert selection at Shampan

First opened in 2011, this destination restaurant has much more to offer than just great tasting Indian food and swanky interiors. It is the perfect venue for dreamy weddings and has a separate function room too called the Saffron Room with a lounge area called ‘The Mumbai Quarters’ – aptly so because when I first walked into to lounge area it reminded of some of Mumbai’s best loved posh five-star restaurants. The location offers ample parking space again ideal for business lunches or a family get together. The soon to be done up bridal suite promises to be just as lush as the rest of the venue. To book the venue for events or reserve a table you will find all the contact details on their website here.

Shampan at the Spinning Wheel

                                                                                                           Shampan at the Spinning Wheel

*With thanks to Humayun Hussain and Shampan for an invite. All opinions expressed are as always my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.

 

Borough Market – a sliceoff history,heritage and ofcourse FOOD!

If ever there was memory I revisit connected to food, browsing, new experiences and feeling that I LIVED and loved life to the fullest it is this The Friday in July when I visited Borough for the first time ever….

Coming from India and have spent most of my life in Bombay I am no stranger to massive open food bazaars, haggling to get one free lemon or a bunch of coriander and feeling triumphant that I could get HAPOOS AAMBE – the king of fruits Alphonso Mangoes at a few rupees lower than the previous customer ….old memories of accompanying my mother as a child to the market every other day and helping her carry home-made cloth and nylon bags full of fresh vegetables and fruits. With these vivid memories in mind I set off with my pal N to visit the market.

Getting there by tube was fun and the first glimpse of the market sort of gave me that feeling of a newcomer to a large city, no not of feeling LOST but simply overwhelmed by the sheer variety of goods available,Of course the most beautiful part is the way all the sights and smells make their way into your mind, literally it was my nose leading me to the food !Set in Southwark, one is found staring at the SHARD as soon you exit from the Tube station, towering over the place it is an imposing glass structure.

The market is massive,has a really amazing old world charm thanks to its origin roughly dating back to the 1800’s when it started off as a wholesale market and continues to be,to this date.

Of course we  took a lot of pictures and ate many free samples along the way but the places where I feel silent with admiration were the Fresh Fish counter – for its sheer variety and activity surrounding the stall, the Mushrooms on display-I guess I had never seen so many colourfull ,delicate and edible mushrooms in one place before ! The Gamston Wood Farm with its exotic meats,yes as exotic as ostrich meat – left me totally speechless but owing to my many food allergies I didn’t experiment, but some day soon I do hope too !I purchased some ripe nectarines , ripe juicy tomatoes and some crunchy salad leaf bunches.

The Market itself is divided into a few large chunks, we started by walking around the fresh fruit,vegetable and sea food shops, moving onto the inner food court where one find everything from superior Assam tea(which I did buy and got home in a cute brown paper bag and treat myself to some mornings with a generous chunk of ginger and plenty of milk, proper boiled sweet Indian CHAI!) to different varieties of cheese,exotic breads,organic foods,herbs,spices,nuts,dates,desserts sighhhh, then one is led to the many fresh food stalls where one can eat exotic burgers, hot dogs, rolls, pizza or sandwiches,soups,salads almost any imaginable snack packed with fresh meat,cheese and all things divine,I certainly envy all the office goers who can visit this place during lunch hour!Not to be missed are the bakery,patisserie and confectionary stalls, creative, hand-made and exotic all rolled into one, giving into those sweet craving is very easy indeed.Each trader no matter how small the stall exuded passion for their craft.Lot of international foods are available here in this massive expanse of a market each with its own spot under the sun so to speak.

There are many pubs and restaurants in the vicinity which sort of take over when the market itself shuts down for the day.

Simply walking past the fresh oysters and taking in all the gorgeous food aromas wafting around does good for any appetite.Aptly then Borough Market has won ”London Food Market of the Year” 2010 at the London Lifestyle awards.The sea food selection is the best in the city and it is also a great place to buy some amazing wines and spirits, from far-flung places across the globe.

”N” and I got ourselves ” The Spitfire”  and  a ”BBQ Banger” respectively from a friendly fella who happily smiled for my camera! Big Bonus points to him, am definitely going back for more yummy food!The rail-bridge crossing over this part of this market causes a bit of a rattle-shake-shudder when trains pass by overhead.

We took our hot meals wrapped in tissues and sat down in the compound of the Southwark Cathedral with many other and though it was windy we hardly noticed, eating our lunch like hungry school kids with sauce dripping off our face!

We then ate ice cream made from goat’s milk,thick,creamy and delicious are base emotions, it transported me to a green farm far away into the English countryside, I left I was on a patch of land watching women dressed up like village belle of times gone by carrying pails of creamy thick milk and barns full of healthy cows and other animals…. N had to shake me out of my dream world so we could continue browsing;)

Ice cream in hand and after much posing for pictures we strolled to the area with big shops which have been around for many years so much so that they have are food institutions on their own, one of them is Ginger Pig.When one enters the Ginger Pig shop,it’s almost like walking into a museum of oink oink 😉 EVERY possible cut,chop,slice,dip,garnish associated with cooking pork all under one roof – sigh ….

After strolling around some more and drinking in the sites, we decided it was time to leave but not before we spent some time browsing the flower stalls outside and purchased some magic potions from Neal’s Yard and some more relaxing tea for me,which I sampled at their store,it made me all drowsy and calm just what I recommend for a good nights sleep, count more deep sleep zz’s after drinking this one folks…

Chocolate – the food fit  for The God’s especially the one made by Hotel Chocolat’….. the  wooden interiors with the dim lighting and walls filled with chocolates so divine and varied that we just had to go in and have some liquid chocolate , mine was mixed with CHILLI ! yes, awesome right? we also got to sample many of the new innovations and sta down on one of the massive wooden benches and sipped our hot chocolate and dreamt of ……well more CHOCOLATE!

Though the weather decided to play spoil sport,nothing could take away the feeling of a day spent pampering my senses….all I wanted to do was go home with my spoils wrapped in crinkly brown paper and sink my teeth into the nectarines and turn the tomatoes into a thick creamy soup.

If I could I would have written a poetry to describe my feelings when I left the market, I wish I could come up with some quotable quote to put all that happens in one’s mind in the market in a nutshell, but really , it wouldn’t suffice, no written word or picture can do justice to the beauty of this vibrant part of London’s heritage and history, treat yourself to a day out Visit Borough Market ….

Visit the official website for updates on opening times, events and news http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk

Hover over each image to view the title.

Is the British Summer really here ?

It’s been a fine few Sunny days this week , with no rain , the cloud all baby blue with fluffy tufts of white cloud like cotton candy flitting about , all pleasing to the eye. I notice more when I walk around , I smile to myself as I see the whole place washed in bright sunlight . I love the feeling of not wearing a heavy coat or finally getting a chance to show off my pedicure and my new Accesorize chappals 🙂 with shiny beads that glint like a million diamonds in the morning sun !

Even the early morning office goers seem to be smiling in spite of the rush!

The pubs are full in the evening with the wooden benches finally occupied with footfall fans enjoying the game with their mates.

My favourite park is packed to the brim with mum,s buggies, happy babies, toddlers of all shapes and sizes with pink cheeks crowding around the happy ice cream van vendor .

I hope this lasts though , I could really soak up a lot more sun. The evenings are definitely still chilly and as I wrap myself in my spring denim jacket and pace up home from my evening stroll , I look at the spanking new Coffee shop that;s come up around the corner .

Is my lazy little ”end of the road” locality going to loose it’s villagey charm I fear ? Sighh… anything and everything is bearable I feel if the British Summer soaks up the nation in all it’s summertime glory and if last years extended autumn was anything to go by then let’s hope for a spiffing one this year round too !