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The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook

Cinnamon Kitchen – The Cookbook

Curry Classic and Contemporary

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Cookbook Collection:
Vivek Singh

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The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook

Cinnamon Kitchen – The Cookbook

Curry Classic and Contemporary

The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook

asian restaurant review Britain is an island. So it goes without saying that we are surrounded by water and have had a close relationship with the sea. Surprising, therefore, that are still so many of us who are not fish eaters. Home cooks have not had a good reputation for preparing tasty fish, and we so often resort to the chippy for some battered haddock. Well, they tell us that fish is good for us, don’t they. So shall I make that two haddock and large chips, please? No, that’s not the idea!

We should be eating more fish, it’s true. We have an amazing choice of seafood of all kinds, both domestic and imported, but what to do with it? Chef Vivek Singh has penned this book with the home cook in mind. The recipes are accessible and will show you exactly what to do with the fishmonger’s wares, and to great effect.

Not only is The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook a practical recipe book but it’s a visual stunner. Photographer Jean Cazals has a reputation for some of the best food photography around. This is a good representation of his excellent work. Unfussy shots to encourage you into the kitchen.

The Cinnamon Club is celebrated for its fine Indian and fusion food. Vivek offers culinary marvels of both taste and presentation, but he has a kitchen full of well-trained and passionate staff, doesn’t he? His books, however, enable us civilians to cook food that is both impressive and well within the grasp of the enthusiastic home cook. A glance at the lists of ingredients might be off-putting to the faint-hearted but on closer inspection you’ll find that it’s mostly spices and you’ll doubtless have them lurking at the back of your larder anyway. Time to move them to the front and buy some fish.

Whitebait was once a common item on menus and even for Saturday teatime. These little fish are eaten whole so they are perhaps a good starting point for those who are unsure about piscatorial preparation. Vivek offers Whitebait in Garlic and Pepper Batter. That batter is a cut above that which houses your chip-shop haddock. This recipe is simple: Mix batter ingredients together. Add fish. Leave for ten minutes. Fry for two minutes. Eat. I defy you to make this just once. Use sprats if you can’t get whitebait. Another recipe for delicious little morsels is that for South Indian Shrimp Pickle. Another simple recipe that produces stylish nibbles for your next cocktail party. A must-try.

A recipe which I shall make often and pass off as my own is for Red Snapper with Ginger-Jaggery Chutney. Another easy dish in two parts. The chutney has Indian cane sugar as one of its main ingredients. It’s easy to find these days in any Asian supermarket but if you live in a lighthouse you could use a dark brown sugar.

The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook offers more than 130 recipes for fish and seafood in all its guises, as well as suitable accompaniments. It’s a book to inspire, encourage and tempt. Vivek Singh does not expect you to be a budding chef. His recipes are well-written and easy to follow. He steers you to dishes that will delight and impress and you won’t need a catering qualification to achieve good results. Jean’s pictures make this a gift-quality book and I look forward to more from Vivek Singh and the Cinnamon Club team.

The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook
Author: Vivek Singh
Published by: Absolute Press
Price: £15.00
ISBN 1-9045734-1-X

food and travel reviews Vivek Singh

Cinnamon Kitchen – The Cookbook

asian cookbok review 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 ambiance.

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 guinea fowl.

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 finished tart.

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
Price: £25.00
ISBN-10: 1906650802
ISBN-13: 978-1906650803

food and travel reviews Vivek Singh

Curry Classic and Contemporary

Curry – Classic and Contemporary You already know, dear reader, that I have a passion for Indian food so it’s no surprise that I, once again, feature a book about the dishes of the subcontinent. This, however, is a little different from the previously reviewed cookbooks, as its focus is on future trends, as well as including lesser-known classic dishes.

The author, Vivek Singh, is the executive chef at the celebrated Cinnamon Club in Westminster and the Cinnamon Kitchen in the City. He has previously penned The Cinnamon Club Cookbook and The Cinnamon Club Seafood Cookbook. Curry – Classic and Contemporary is a marvellous showcase for this man’s talent and unique perspective.

But what is Curry? We all think we know. We go out “for a curry”, “let's get a take-away curry”. But in reality it’s an Anglo term for any kind of Indian food. It seems that most Indians would be rather amused  by our notion of all Indian food being “curry” (or horrified at our ignorance). It seems that the misconception dates back to the British officers of the East India Company. These chaps spent their whole lives in India but couldn’t speak the language so when asked, the cooks would tell the officers that it was “curry” tonight rather than trying to educate the daft sahibs about the delicious array of other diverse dishes.

The recipes here are striking. I recognise the classics like Jungle Curry, Beef Bhuna, Lamb Rogan Josh, but there are many more that are new to me and very appealing. Nargisi Kofta Curry was a popular restaurant favourite in the 60s and 70s but has fallen out of favour as it’s a complex recipe for mass catering. It’s an Indian version of a scotch egg (boiled egg with a meat crust) served with an aromatic sauce. Those army officers in India would recognise this one.

I love Raan (leg of lamb) and Vivek has two versions. The Modern Raan is tunnel-boned and stuffed and makes the most wonderful presentation for a meal for friends. It’s a dish that takes a bit of work but you’ll find it’s well worth the trouble. The spices permeate the meat which will be succulent and flavourful. Your house will have a fabulous aroma that will excite your guests’ taste buds before they even sit at the table.

Curry – Classic and Contemporary is filled with recipes that are both of the moment and authentic. I am impressed and will enjoy cooking my way through every dish. A delight.

Curry – Classic and Contemporary
Author: Vivek Singh
Published by: Absolute Press
Price: £20.00
ISBN 9-781904-573883

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