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– The Cookbook
Cinnamon Kitchen is another of the restaurants in chef
Vivek Singh’s empire. Cinnamon Club in Westminster has long been the
classy and dark-polished-wood Indian restaurant of choice for the
great and the good, and even politicians from the big house up the
road. Cinnamon Soho has recently opened and offers a dining experience
that’s fast, casual and buzzy and introduces a new audience to the same
standard of delicious food, but in a form rushed diners prefer.
Cinnamon Kitchen was the second in Vivek's portfolio and manages to
straddle the two concepts. It’s more casual than its formal parent,
Cinnamon Club, but it still has the air of fine dining, just clothed in
less tailored attire. Smart-casual would describe the guests and the
Cinnamon Kitchen – The Cookbook presents a beautifully photographed
collection of recipes from the Cinnamon Kitchen team. They cover every
course as well as some drinks from Anise, the bar, and some recipes
have step-by-step images of preparation for the novice.
At first glance some of the recipes might look complicated but they can
all be broken down into their constituent parts, giving 3 or 4 recipes
for every one listed. All of those are simple to follow and can be used
together as suggested or in a mix-and-match with other dishes. The
spices are all available from your local Asian grocer or online and a
selection of half a dozen or so will enable the home cook to tackle
most of the dishes here.
Dry-spice-crusted Guinea Fowl is one of the simplest dishes to prepare.
Vivek suggests you cook this in a tandoor (yes, trot out and get one;
it can also be used as central heating) but he concedes that it works
just as well on a regular barbecue or in the oven. Chicken can be used,
if you prefer, but increase the cooking time as it’s larger than the
Galouti Kebabs are not that common in Indian restaurants but you will
find them on some of the finest menus, and they are exceptional
preparations. The skill is in the mincing just as much as in the
spicing. The secret to success is grinding the meat to a smooth paste.
Once you have minced it a few times you will think that’s enough, but
process it some more and you will find you have kebabs that are truly
melting and memorable.
Lentils are a staple of Indian cuisine and form much of the traditional
Subcontinental diet. They are economic, delicious and nutritious. Vivek
has recipes for both black and yellow lentil dishes. My favourite is
the yellow version, and it’s versatile as several different lentils can
be used individually or together. I enjoy the mixed version as there
are different textures remaining when the dish is cooked. It’s a simple
traditional dish that can even be made in a pressure cooker to save
time and fuel. Most Indian households have at least one of these
practical gadgets. Eat these aromatic lentils with almost any meat,
fish or vegetables or even along with just rice or Indian bread. This
freezes well for future use.
Desserts in Indian restaurants tend to be a bit thin on the ground and
predictable, but Vivek has several inspiring sweet dishes that have
accessible ingredients, and very few of those. One of his desserts is
Spiced Banana Tarte Tatin. It’s a blessing to be given permission to
use shop-bought puff pastry, but buy the best quality available. The
topping is, unsurprisingly, bananas but with a hint of pink peppercorn
to spike the fruit. The caramel gives a sweet lacquer and shine to the
I mentioned Bar Anise, and they have contributed a battery of cocktail
recipes that are potent, impressive and delicious. The Cinnamon Bellini
must surely be a signature with that warming spice that is its
eponymous flavour – what better way to start an evening. A Vivek Vodka
or Singh Sangria could be the next Anise mixology inventions.
This is a stunning, gift-quality book that would be appreciated by any
lover of vibrant Indian flavours presented in stylish fashion. It’s a
book to pore over but it’s far from a coffee table novelty and it’s
likely to tempt even those who didn’t realise that they had a kitchen,
as every good cookbook should. Vivek never disappoints.
Cinnamon Kitchen – The Cookbook
Author: Vivek Singh
Publisher: Absolute Press