The recent news of easing of lockdown restrictions has been welcomed with open arms! But we are still a while away from jet setting across the globe. So until that happens, here are some ways restaurants and ‘dark kitchens’ are bringing the world to our living rooms – through food.
Since Covid clipped my travel wings I am exploring the world one global cuisine at a time!
HOME BY NICO
From the creators of Six by Nico, comes Home-X and Home by Nico. They have created monthly rotating menus, each exploring a different part of the world and bringing the culinary delights of that region to your home. Each box, perfectly portioned for two people, contains four ready-to-enjoy courses, including a starter, main dish, two side dishes, a cheese course, dessert and a bottle of white wine to pair. We were lucky enough to try their ‘Hebrides’ experience, exploring the archipelago of the Hebrides off the west coast of mainland Scotland. Everything comes in recyclable containers which is an important factor for me. But it’s not just the taste and the sophisticated packaging/branding of the food, but the price which was astounding. I have done a fair amount of research on restaurant meal kits and nothing comes close to their price for that quality and quantity. That’s £60 for two people – including all the food, wine, cheese and delivery – which is pretty good value for money! Find out more here.
Jaffna Kitchen are a new delivery kitchen, based in the Wandsworth/Earlsfield area, serving authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. Operating from what is called a dark kitchen, they have a simple menu focusing on great flavours, fresh produce and sustainable packaging. Expect rich, fiery, flavoursome food with a heat that awakens your senses rather than knocks you down. Jaffna cuisine is known for its seafood, especially crab, so good news for seafood lovers like me. The meals are freshly prepared, served hot, and arrive ready to be eaten straightaway, like a normal restaurant delivery. They are on the usual delivery apps but also do direct takeaway/delivery via their website if you’re within three miles of their kitchen. Find out more here.
K+K STREET FOOD
Sri Lankan food is one of my favourite cuisines and K+K Street Food introduced me to another important dish from their cuisine – The Lamprais. Lamprais is a Sri Lankan and Dutch-influenced rice and curry dish, served inside a banana leaf. It loosely translates to “packet of lumped rice” and is basically a combination of carefully curated meat and vegetable dishes alongside flavourful rice. The lamprais comes neatly packaged, all sealed in and all we had to do was to pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The baking process allows the aroma of the banana leaves to infuse into the contents. Once heated, you can unwrap the banana leaves and the delicious ingredients are revealed in front of you: Yellow Rice; Seeni Sambhol; Brinjal Moju; Boiled egg; Fried chicken; Ash plantain; Chicken Kari; Polos cutlet; and Prawn Blachan. The lamprais is an explosion of flavours and textures; fiery, flavourful and exceptionally delicious! It goes great with a lager or G&T, or even better Ceylon Arrack with ginger beer and lime. Find out more here.
Lahore Karahi in Tooting is a very popular Pakistani curry house and takeaway. In fact, it is featured as one of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s favourite foodie spots in Tooting. Rather than picking the more conventional curry dishes, we opted for the Chef’s specialities. Highlights included the Haleem (meaty stew), Lamb Nihari and the Kheer (rice pudding) Some of the sauces were a bit oily but the meats were well cooked and falling off the bone so I guess my arteries will forgive me for it . The rice pudding was very close to how my mum would make at home. Dishes were overall on the rich and spicy side of spectrum. It was the closest glimpse I got of Pakistani cuisine and I’m really keen to explore the rest of it. Find out more here.
Perhaps the most difficult part of not been able to travel is not being able to visit home (India) either. Whilst no home kit can bring the flavour of home, a delivery from Gupta’s helped ease some of that homesickness. Their range of Indian sweets and savouries are some of my favourite things in the world to eat and I miss eating them while living away from home! The taste is 100% authentic. Find out more here.
BAKER AND SPICE
Established in 1995, Baker and Spice are a London based bakery, Mediterranean deli and restaurant, with branches in Chelsea and Maida Vale. They recently launched ‘Baker & Spice in the Evening’, an inspired evening restaurant menu to bring the tastes of the Mediterranean from their kitchen to your plate at home. Using fresh, natural and seasonal ingredients, the menu rotates to reflect and deliver on that promise. Sophisticated, upscale, high quality and most importantly bang on delicious were some of the words I would use to describe the food. From the compostable packaging & slick branding to the very generous portions we were really impressed with the overall dining experience. Everything comes ready to be eaten so all you have to do is to plate up! Main courses range from £14 to £20, starters from £9 and small plates from £6. They also have a well-curated wine list to match the food offering. Find out more here.
Murger Han is an independent Xi’an restaurant, specialising in Biang Biang noodles. Many of the dishes here originate from the Qin dynasty (221 BC to 206 BC) of Shanxi Province, home of both the legendary Terracotta Warriors and to the family who own Murger Han. We have visited their restaurant before and were able to sample those dishes again during lockdown as part of the Lunar New Year 2021 celebrations. Their Murgers and the Hand-Pulled Biang Biang Noodles are some of our favourites. Find out more here.
Shuro Shirin specialise in traditional Persian meals and are now doing frozen ready meals delivered straight to your door. I have tried their food before when they opened their outlet in Fulham Broadway. It was a real gastronomic discovery, with flavours and textures I have never tried before and so I was gripped. We even ordered some lunches for our office. So when I heard they were returning with a new product, I was very excited to try it out. The food is hearty, aromatic, fragrant with sweet and tart notes. It’s also halal, dairy free and gluten free and they have vegan options as well. Shuro Shirin supply their frozen ready meals all over the UK, so wherever you are, you can get a taste of Persia from the comfort of your home. Find out more here.
Experience the tastes and smells of Tel Aviv via the awesome DIY kits from Shuk London. I got to try two of their kits: the Spiced Lamb Meatballs Pita and the Babka kits. From the first bite to the last slice, you will be hard pressed not to fall in love with their sweet, sticky Babka and the freshly baked smell wafting through your house. The lamb pitas, inspired by a family recipe, were pillowy and cloud-like (quite filling as well), the meatballs warmly spiced, the herbs fresh and the salads zingy! The scene stealer was the accompanying amazing chilli yoghurt – you would be hard pressed not to lick the bowls! Find out more here.
OLD CHANG KEE
Old Chang Kee are a Singaporean street-food style eatery in Central London. During lockdown, they are delivering frozen curries alongside their signature curry puffs to London and beyond. All the meat is halal and they also have vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free options available as well. From what we have tried, the sumptuous curries are bang on in terms of deliciousness and flavour, with varying degrees of heat. The curry puffs were spicy and moreish; great as a teatime snack! Find out more here.
N.B. The above products were gifted to me as PR samples but all opinions are mine.