Oottupura – Cuisine of South India

Indian cuisine has established itself as a firm favourite in British culture. I was lucky enough to grow up with Gujarati (vegetarian cuisine) and of course British classics.  Perhaps the most defining characteristic of Indian cuisine is its diverse use of spices. I can’t say I am a huge fan of hot spicy food quite the opposite in fact but I do like aromatic spices. When I moved to London in 2005 I quickly realised I was spoilt for choice when it came to international cuisine, one of the main reason’s why I love London so much.

I am writing this post following a lovely lunch at a South Indian restaurant Ottupura which opened in August 2019 located in Ewell, Surrey.  The husband wanted to treat his in-laws to a meal and he did very well by picking this local gem. My dad is 79 years old and is currently spending half his birthday on a plane to Los Angeles.  Mark wanted to treat my no fuss dad to some place cheerful close by.

The restaurant owner Sunny originally from Kerala welcomed us all and was lovely to chat to. He took the time to explain the dishes carefully as South Indian dishes are a little bit different to what I know.  I have never heard of the vegetable ” drumsticks” .  My mum knew instantly but I assumed it was chicken! The Drumsticks soup was comforting and deliciously heartwarming for winter.  It has many health benefits apparently so I will have a go at making this at home.  Can’t really explain what it tastes like other than “yummy”.

We all knew in advance roughly what we wanted to eat which was dosa the traditional Indian pancake made from rice and lentil batter.  This has to be my favourite Indian food item I could eat this every day. I remember craving dosa when I was 5 months pregnant and telling my tired husband one Sunday at 3pm if we could go out for dinner.  We drove for miles around Surrey but failed.  There is nothing worse than craving a food you can’t have at that moment.

Luckily for me this is within a short driving distance so no more craving and being disappointed! Sunny told us the batter is made in-house from scratch. The fillings were generous and flavoursome. The range of food on offer here is different to what you would see in high street curry houses. I personally prefer these authentic regional dishes. 

PAPADAVADA

Pappadoms are dip in rice flour, cumin and sesame seeds batter and deep fried to give a special aroma.

 

ACHAPPAM

This crunchy, crispy snack is made from rice flour, coconuts, black sesame seeds, cumin seeds.

 

PAPPODUMS

Are made from black gram lentil & rice mixture, flat and crispy.

 

KAYA VARUTHATHU

Raw sliced banana flavoured with turmeric and fried

CHILLI PANEER

Fresh Cottage cheese tossed in capsicum, onion, ginger, garlic and authentic spices.

MURINGAKAH SOUP

Drumstick has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits, Drumstick flavoured with potato, garlic, ginger, shallots and black pepper.

DOSA

Dosa is a pancake made from rice & lentil batter, grounded and fermented over night. It’s a quintessential South Indian dish.

MASALA DOSA

South Indian traditional pancakes filled with crushed and seasoned potatoes, peas and onion

POORI MASALA / POORI CHANNA MASALA

Fried flat wheat bread with choice of potato masala or Channa masala

It won’t be long before we head back to this newly opened place. Please do go and see Sunny at his lovely restaurant if you are in the area. He was kind enough to arrange a chocolate cake which went down brilliantly with my quiet dad who hardly ever eats chocolate. I had 3 greedy slices it was that good. Anyone would have thought it was my birthday.

Thank you Sunny!

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Tel: 0208 394 1012

332 Kingston Road
Ewell, Epsom
Surrey KT19 ODT

Email :info@oottupura.co.uk

KoKo Dairy Free Super*


There are many reasons why you may need to follow a dairy-free diet, including being vegan or for health reasons. I am on a bit of a health kick at the moment.  I had a blip last Christmas but I wasn’t too concerned and then post Christmas into the new year where I blamed winter for the cause of mega comfort eating.  But I am determined to get back on track and I have been incorporating more vegan options into my diet just because I want to help my nutritional levels. I usually get a mixed response when I mention that I am veering towards a plant based diet. It’s like a marmite thing you either mind it or don’t. Although I haven’t yet decided whether I want to fully follow a vegan lifestyle, I am keen to reduce my dairy intake. I was recently asked if I would like to Koko Dairy Free made from freshly pressed coconut milk containing the same fat content as semi-skimmed milk. I’ve only recently just learned that coconut is a fruit and not a nut. I genuinely had no idea! I am semi-skimmed milk drinker  so I thought I would give this a try. It is also 100% dairy free, lactose free, gluten free, nut free, rice free, soya free, and cholesterol free. I should point that it is not suitable as a sole source of nutrition for infants under 12 months of age as, like cow’s milk, it is not nutritionally complete.

Koko Dairy Free can be used instead of dairy milk in all your recipes, including porridge, soups, puddings, sauces and cakes without adding a taste of its own. I find it to be creamy which I didn’t mind and the flavour is fresh, the hint of coconut does not obscure other flavours. It does not curdle in tea and coffee which was a surprise because I thought it would. I really like the taste and  it works well in smoothies, pancakes, porridge and baking. I’ve even got my mum hooked on this alternative. Although it does cost more than ordinary milk I don’t use a lot so it’s worth it. Once opened it needs to be put in the fridge to be consumed within 5 days.


+ Naturally free of lactose, cow’s milk protein, soya and gluten.
+ Suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and coeliacs.
+ Calcium and fat levels matched to semi-skimmed milk.
+ Fresh tasting and versatile to use as drinks and in cooking.
+ GMO Free
+ Free from artificial flavours, preservatives and colourings

Luxury Prestige Hamper Review*



’Tis the season to be indulgent!

There is one gift I absolutely love to give and receive you’ve guessed it a hamper containing goodies whether they be savoury or sweet! Gift hampers can be given all year round of course but for me Christmas ingredients for an indulgent and delicious festive period packaged up in a box is really special and fun. I was incredibly excited to receive a luxury Christmas hamper recently from Prestige Hampers, an online gift service based in Cheshire that specialise in hampers containing only the finest foods and wines.

I was genuinely impressed the moment I opened the box to reveal the beautifully decorated chest or trunk if you want to call it. I’ve always associated hampers to be wicker baskets so this was certainly different and caught my eye. If you’re looking for a brilliant gift idea for the foodie in your life this Christmas do have a look at the beautiful hampers in the range. There is an incredible amount of choice to spread some Christmas cheer this year. A gift hamper brings people together in my opinion and what better to share food and drink with the people who matter.

I am very tempted to donate this beauty of a gift to our local church for their annual Christmas dinner held for the elderly. Each quality item in the chest did not disappoint!

Gift Hamper £74.99

Included:
Water Stop Station Chardonnay 75cl
Water Stop station Shiraz 75cl
Red Velvet Crunch Biscuits 150g
English Breakfast Tea 40g
Milk, White and Dark Chocolate Classics 120g
Shortbread Festive Shapes 60g
Matthew Walker Classic Christmas Pudding 100g
Iced Fruit Cake 400g
Dark Chocolate Bar 60g
Mackays Christmas Marmalade 113g
Mackays Christmas Preserve 113g
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Yorkshire Crisps 100g
Handmade Smoked Oatcakes 125g

The perfect collection of foodie goodies at Prestige Hampers

Instagram – @prestigehampersuk

Twitter – @HampersPrestige

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/prestigehampersuk/ 

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

Dining at Saffron Summer


As a resident of Greater London, I’m not far from a fantastic choice of eateries that the Big Smoke has to offer. However these days with a toddler in tow I opt for restaurants much closer to home and Saffron Summer fits the bill when it comes to Indian cuisine. Recently my Indian parents were staying over with us and my dad kindly wanted to treat us all to a restaurant of my husband’s choice. (I appear to have slipped down the pecking order on the favourites list). Mr M who would normally choose a Thai restaurant decided to stay with the eastern vibe and suggested a visit to one of his favourite curry houses but this isn’t your ordinary curry house.

This was actually our second visit to a haute cuisine restaurant based in Chessington and rated among the top 3 Indian restaurants in Surrey according to Trip Advisor.  The moment we arrived the staff were again friendly, polite and the restaurant was nicely laid out with beautiful decor. The service is also excellent without being invasive.

Executive Chef Awanish Roy trained at the famous Oberoi hotels in India and has spent time working at the legendary Cinnamon Club in Westminster which showed in the quality of the dining experience. Ralph Sousa the restaurant owner has owned restaurants in Portugal and Goa and with this experience has a successful team here who take pride on their work. The restaurant staff are wonderful and special thanks to Nacito who kindly took the time to explain the dishes.

I’m a huge fan of Indian street food and tapas style dishes which were great especially to share and they certainly didn’t disappoint.  I think I will be back soon for the special Sunday Indian roast lunch!  My parents are vegetarians and were impressed with the choice offered. I have to say I normally don’t bother with starters but they all looked so good! I’d eaten light all day so that I could enjoy three courses.

Dal makhani with lotus seeds crisps.

You can expect a lovely twists on classic dishes which work brilliantly and I can’t wait to return. I only wish I had the cooking skills to match Chef Awanish!

Gol Gappa a ‘street food’ spicy shot accompanied with stuffed puri.

Hakka Chilli Paneer, fiery Indo-Chinese paneer from the popular China town of Kolkata.

Okra do Pyaza Stir fried bhindi with onions.

Calamari Banjara Gosht.

Elwy Valley lamb simmered and cooked in a specially grounded Rajasthani recipe.

Butter Chicken a household dish also known as Murg Makhni. Tandoori chicken thighs, tomato and fenugreek sauce, truffle malai.

Sticky toffee pudding with an infusion of ginger caramel & served with vanilla ice cream.

Pistachio Kulfi.

Coconut ice cream.

I can genuinely say we left the restaurant with happy and full tummies.  There is a good variety of  fish, seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes in a relaxed informal setting. The food has incredible flavour and I love the modern twists to traditional dishes. It may sound very silly but my favourite part of the meal was the herby naan bread which alone I would have been very happy with!

Saffron Summer has a lovely neighbourhood feel about it and I highly recommend a visit here. This isn’t your typical indian restaurant and I thought the prices reflected the high standard and quality of the food. The meal worked out to £40 per head including drinks. If you live near or in Surrey and like indian food make sure you visit.

Thank you for reading

Bella

~X~

Dinner at D.a.s.t.a.a.n

 

Last summer Mr M mentioned he’d seen a small restaurant a short distance from us amongst the parade of small shops in Ewell. The restaurant being Dastaan which opened it’s doors towards the end of 2016 and after a bit of research we realised this relatively new establishment was a local gem that we had somehow missed on our restaurant radar.


I made a booking to celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary (advisable to book early to avoid disappointment) and I am so glad we did. Ever since moving to Surrey in 2009 I have been a little disappointed with the indian restaurants in our locality that is until now of course. Dastaan is the joint venture for Sanjay Gour and Nand Kishor two internationally acclaimed Chefs who have in my opinion placed Epsom firmly on the map for fantastic cuisine.

Both have glittering CV’s in the culinary trade. Sanjay combines his expertise in desserts with a lighter version of indian sweets and all things spice working at events such as the BAFTA’s and GQ Awards. He worked with Angela Hartnett, as pastry chef at her restaurant, Michelin-starred Murano. Success continued as he worked as Head Chef at one of the most talked about Michelin star Indian restaurant of London Gymkhana. Chef Nand from Mumbai has extensive training in the mixing of spices working in different restaurants, going onto to open Trishna restaurant which received a Michelin star in 2012 and in 2014, and then onto the Gymkhana restaurant as Head Chef.

The moment we walked into the restaurant we could see and feel the ambience, the tables were busy with families, friends couples, a real mix of guests. I liked the warm welcome and we didn’t have to wait long before our drinks arrived. I went for wine. He went for beer. Fortunately my parents came to stay so that we were able to head out sans child. Also managed to get the Taxi of Dad booked for later that evening.

The tables are pretty closely arranged together which I don’t mind as the restaurant isn’t huge, the staff were friendly and were great in advising us about the dishes. I like the fact that the menu wasn’t overwhelmed with dishes. I think sometimes in life we are presented with too much choice and it complicates things!

We went for the following with rice and naan breads.

STARTERS

PaniPuri 

Beetroot Tikki with Tadka Yogurt

Samosa Chaat

MAINS

Methi Chicken Fresh Fenugreek

Pork Vindaloo with Goan Spices


We were sadly too full to order desserts and it was a shame as we were both looking forward to the Pistachio Kulfi.  Something to correct the next time we visit! The standard of food here is exceptionally tasty, non greasy and filling.  I generally can’t  believe our luck having the restaurant on our doorstep. It does get busy and it’s clear to see why as the food really is outstanding. I’ve read reviews comparing this restaurant to Michelin star Jamavar in Mayfair London so you know you won’t be disappointed.

I really hope to return soon for another magnificent feast. There is also a Take away service available which makes this even more of a win win for me. But I’m not the only one winning as Michelin has also included Dastaan in their Bib Gourmands guide to Great Britain and Ireland 2018. It’s one of 27 restaurants to win the accolade which recognises simple yet skillful cooking at a reasonable price.  Congratulations to the team!

Dastaan About us

Dastaan restaraunt Ewell Surrey. Owners Sanjay Gour and Nand Kishor tell us about themselves, their experience and Dastaan indian food. http://www.dastaan.co.uk/ call us 02087868999 Video introduction services and Video production by Pro Business Photos Contact http://www.probusinessphotos.co.uk We can help you make the most of your Business.

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Dastaan, 447 Kingston Rd, Epsom, KT19 0DB

e: info@dastaan.co.uk  

 

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~