Not really had time to write on here for a week or so.
Last week, I went out for a curry with Junior Cockwomble and Audie, two old work mates from Valen.
Unlike last time, I got to choose the restaurant and I chose the Basmati at Great Barr, a place I have used on and off for the past 15 years or so.
I was last there about a year ago with Charlie Chalk and was pleased to discover the standard of food had not altered, which is why I badgered these two into going with my choice.
The nice thing about the Basmati is if you order three different dishes, they are going to taste different.
I made sure we had variety, ordering my favourite of all curries, a methi gosht (meat with methi leaf). I also ordered a paneer dish (curd cheese) in a tomato and herb sauce.
A lot of people (these two included), are a bit offish when they think of curd cheese in their food. I don't blame them, as it is a rather bland foodstuff with a strange spongey texture. That is until it's combined with some nice Indian spice in a sauce, when it takes on flavour.
We shared our curries which is why I ordered the cheese dish to expand their curry horizons. Went for seconds only to find all the cheese had gone. I think they liked it.
That's the thing about finding a good curry house, once you do, you need hang on to it.
Standards have come a long way since the days of flock wallpaper and the three pot system, but a lot of places serve food that's just "nice". You know like when someone leaves the room and you don't notice...
The tandoori meat at the Basmati is excellent as are the tandoori prawns.
There's a gem of a place over in West Brom where I'm going to have to introduce them. The Vine. An unassuming pub in a side street which has the reputation of serving an amazing array of dishes and with the bonus of a barbecue where freshly cooked tandoori, piri piri meat and fish are served.
My favourite dish there is the mixed meat Madras. OBC gave me a hard time last week because on my recommendation he had a take away one from there and it was too hot for him and the chillies upset his stomach. It's not that hot. I'm not one of these nutters who thinks masculinity is ordering the hottest thing on a menu.
If you're familiar with my curry fetish, you'll be aware of my affinity for methi. the Vine does a skewered kebab type dish of methi chicken and very nice it is too. Also their piri piri chicken quarter is knockout, beautifully moist inside (and yes I know piri piri isn't curry).
Of course locally, for tidbits, you need look no further than Hargun's sweet centre. Get there late morning and cop for still warm samosas (vegetarian). Arrive just before lunch and you'll be able to get warm paneer rolls, paneer cheese again this time wrapped in samosa pastry, you really need these to be fresh and warm to enjoy them at their best.
The little Aloo tiki cakes (potato) are a bit hot for me, but again, show the variety of top notch food available on your doorstep.
And if you venture into the world of Pakistani curries, another treat awaits you. I've never managed to ascertain just what it is they put in some of their curries that gives it a unique flavour. I thought it might be tamarind, but I'm not sure.
Quite often you get a darker sauce than you might with Indian. The regional variations of both countries make it impossible sometimes to tie down a particular flavour or style.
All I can say is curry as far as I'm concerned is sheer ambrosia, and I'm not talking tinned rice !