WELL BEING & OTHER STORIES

Recipes, rituals and other stories to realign the body and mind

Dinner

A SHED YOU WILL WANT TO LIVE IN

Travel, Review, Lifestyle, Dinnerdanielle coppermanComment

Tucked away on a roadside in Nottinghill is not much more than, well, a shed. What caught my eye was the beautiful, cosy garden patio covered in fairy lights and foliage in front of the building. It looked like a tiny house in Italy until i took a closer look and realised there was a menu on the wall, and a damn good one at that.

This was a one off in terms of how our usual dinner plans go. We had never heard of The Shed, we hadn’t been recommended to go there and we hadn’t read any reviews about it. So it was a pleasant surprise, once we’d finished a good 8 sharing plates of mind blowing food, to find gushing reviews of it online when we got home. A very happy coincidence, and perhaps the most successful impulsive dinner choice I’ve ever made.

Inside, the atmosphere was intimate and cosy, and as it was a Saturday, it was humming with hungry locals. They all obviously knew what to expect because there was a sense of excitement among the place. We, on the other hand, had to be talked through the procedure and then wait patiently, half expecting to be disappointed.

The menu is divided into Mouthfuls, Slow cooking and Fast cooking. Each heading is quite self explanatory, but this was a new breakdown of food for us, so it took us a while to order. They recommend that you share each plate, which is small, or order more than one per person if your companion is not a sharer. We ordered 6 to begin with, between two of us, and got stuck in to each dish as and when they arrived, tasting each unique, flavoursome dish and salivating over them together. Each dish was different which kept our tastebuds amused and satisfied, but also seemed to send them into overdrive, as we ended up ordering two additional plates. We couldn’t stop.

The dishes were controversial combinations of amazing ingredients, including chorizo puree on giant asparagus, and cured pollock with lemon mayonnaise and marigold. The fantastic menu changes daily and is made up of Sussex produce sourced from the owners’ youngest brother (whose roots are firmly planted in Nutbourne, as a farmer) and other local suppliers. “Growing, foraging, great cooking and great company have always been the order of the day, and this ethos has been brought to life at The Shed”; by three extremely talented brothers.

"RESERVATIONS AND WALK-INS ARE WELCOME AT THE SHED, SO LONG AS YOU’RE READY TO ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES, JUMP ON THE COMBINE HARVESTER AND GET STUCK INTO SOME HARDY EATING, DRINKING AND MEMORY MAKING".

Well, that just about sums it up.

DISHOOM | THE DISHIEST PLACE IN LONDON

Travel, Review, Lifestyle, Dinner, Brunch, Breakfastdanielle coppermanComment

Let me introduce to you a brand new brunch; the kind where a white dusty bloomer is replaced by warm, crispy naan and any sight of a builders tea is enriched with a hundred spices you can’t pronounce the name of. Upon entering Dishoom – a sixties style Bombay diner off a little Shoreditch (or soho) side street - a multitude of aromas swarm towards you, possessing you so much that you momentarily forget how to say ‘table for two please’. Dizzied by the spiced air and in awe at the effortless, inimitable interiors, my good friend Charlotte and I followed our waitress to a comfy cushioned booth glowing in the morning sun. The waiters are incredibly relaxed (so we got on very well here, bleary eyed on a Sunday) and imply the most popular dishes, without imposing on your decisions. My word of advice is to trust them; you will thank them later.

We go instantly weak at the knees at their description of the chai latte and take them up on the offer whilst we scan the menu in confusion. Naan bread at 10am in the morning? Spiced tomato relish at 10am in the morning? Green chilli omelette? At 10am in the morning? We thought we’d got it so wrong, having more or less professed in the art of hunting down london’s top brunch spots until now. However, we stuck it out - gave it a chance - mainly because we trusted the décor, the chic gold lamp that sat between us, and the look on fellow customers’ faces as they saw their Bun Maska swerving through the restaurant towards them, eyes gleaming as they envisaged it bathing in their perfectly cooled chai, just moments away from being drowned in warm, chocolately spices. 
Our chai arrived and we both closed our eyes in slow motion as we took a sip, reopening them with a synchronised ‘hmmm’, before ordering a bowl of nutty house granola and a baked egg naan roll. We weren’t sure what to expect but as soon as the granola came we knew the egg naan would not disappoint. It was hands down the best granola I’ve ever eaten; perfectly roasted, perfectly sweetened and spiced to, well, perfection. The buttery crunchiness went hand in hand with the creamy chai, and the table was emptied before the egg naan arrived. We were half expecting some kind of multicultural Indian French toast but were pleasantly surprised after our sweet starter to receive a savoury serving of eggs, tomato and fresh coriander wrapped in thin, baked naan bread. The ingredients were so fresh and the naan was so light and crispy and evident in every mouthful it had been cooked just seconds before delivery. Never before have i tried a naan bread so thin yet so chewy and somehow able to melt in your mouth.

not our brunch but the sort of thing you can expect to walk past as your enter the restaurant in the AM.

I soon returned to Dishoom for dinner having eyed the menu and noticed pretty much all of my favourite foods, as well as a signature house dahl which needed to be done. There is always a queue and due to inevitable popularity you cant book on weekends. However, with a serious selection of cocktails and small plates, no one could feel too put out waiting at the atmospheric bar, in a huddle of excited customers in happy-weekend-mode. I had a chilli, rose and pomegranate martini which sounds ominous but really Hit. The. Spot. The dinner itself is definitely worth the wait if only for the green coriander chutney which I always have to order thirds of. A sweet tangy companion for the gigantic masala prawns and dry chargrilled chicken tikka, and a perfect dip for a fish cluster or okra fries. The abundance of flavours and spices are strong and mind-blowing at the same time, it’s almost impossible for your taste buds to keep up, and ordering small plates to share you get the bonus of dipping and mixing one juicy dish with another. The dinner was much healthier than the breakfast, with plenty of protein dishes, a few vegetarian options and sides of curried greens. Just go easy on the rice, you order several plates to share and I would honestly say you don’t really need it. If anything, get the garlic naan, which is thin, light and seemingly easy on the metabolism, and perfect for mopping. 
I will warn that you get so caught up in a frenzy of making your way around each dish and experimenting with mixing and making all sorts of different, flavoursome combinations that you kind of forget you’re eating and that your body has a limit. Every time i have eaten here for dinner i have sat back with a sigh having tried almost everything with everything, twice, and then realised that my stomach isn’t so impressed with my behaviour. Everything is so new and all the flavours are so different that it is almost like a game rather than a mealtime. The portions are really valuable sizes and with lots of protein you get full quickly. Thankfully they only have two ‘sauce’ curries on the menu whilst everything else is chargrilled and dry so nothing if too rich or creamy (apart from the dahl) to leave you feeling sluggish at all. What you feel is satisfaction, if also a little over-indulgence. 
To finish, cinnamon ice cream is recommended or coconut sorbet on a stick, if your mouth is too on fire for a hot chai. Alternatively, a Lassi is a fitting choice, and ultimately sooths the mouth, which would otherwise be buzzing all night long.

Shoreditch is my favourite of the two, more spacious and atmospheric than the Soho restaurant, and has a bigger bar area for your weekend wait. 7 Boundary, London, E2 7JE.

SWEET CURRIED QUINOA WITH MINTED AVOCADO AND BEETROOT SLAW

Snacks, Lunch, Dinnerdanielle coppermanComment

Tonight most people will be having a TV dinner and/or eating take out from their laps. For me take out night was usually friday night - the one night of the week when my father was allocated dinner duty. If he was feeling incapable of fajitas from a step-by-step kit or an easy spag bol, he’d be straight on the phone and the next thing i knew we were speeding home from the Indian with a hot, smelly bag of steaming deliciousness balancing between my feet, whilst i tried to feed him our free loyalty popadoms as he drove. Many of you are probably somewhat healthier and if takeaways do exist in your life my guess is they’re from the Wholefoods hot food counter or maybe a fresh sushi bar. I still love a take away now and then - mainly when i return home as theres just something about a cosy night in with your family, some movies and some comfort food. Not all take aways are bad though, only stereotypical things like greasy chinese, pungent indian, unappetising kebabs and burger bar pizza's. But nowadays, you can do takeaways much more virtuously, and can pretty much have any kind of food, from any kind of place, delivered to your door. So many places offer delivery now and with apps like Quiqup, you practically never need to cook again. Or go out, for that matter. (this could get very dangerous indeed). I learnt this particularly during my visit to New York where i stayed with 3 guys who hadn’t cooked in months, thanks to Seamless. But for those of you who disagree entirely with the concept, make your own version of take out food (the idea of quick take-out instead of arduous cooking is lost here completely) like a chinese with vegetable rice instead of white rice, an indian without the naan bread, or some kind of hippy pizza made from vegetables and quinoa (more on that another time). Tonights recipe is inspired by indian curry. It is not a curry though. It is simply a spiced, korma infused side dish as well as one of the quickest things you will ever make.

I went through a phase of making healthy curry a lot a few months ago and alternated between coconut milk green thai with prawns, and sweet potato korma with chicken, prawns or grilled aubergine and greens. It is really easy to make healthy curry as long as you don’t make lazy curry, i.e. using additive-laden ready made sauce. Instead, use fresh ingredients, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs, unprocessed liquids like coconut milk and organic meat. The recipe for the quinoa in this post however is less like a ‘saucy’ curry and more like curried rice - or curry infused quinoa. It almost reminds me of paella, or how i’d imagine it to be if the Indians were to rework it. As this recipe is relatively dry compared to normal curries it would work brilliantly cold, stirred into a salad as well as serving curry purposes. A flavoursome recipe perfect with added chicken or as a side to pretty much anything. I imagine it tastes amazing maybe added to a broth or stirred into soup too. I enjoyed mine with the following sides which are both refreshing and flavoursome in very different ways. The slaw was almost like a chutney and the minty avocado puree replaced what used to be cucumber mint sauce or creme fraiche on my plate, back in the day.


SWEET POTATO CURRIED QUINOA WITH GRILLED AUBERGINE

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2-4

1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
1 Roasted, Boiled or Steamed Sweet Potato or Squash, chopped
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon Sumac
1-2 Teaspoons Garam masala
1 Teaspoon Cumin
Curry Powder (optional/to taste)
Ground Coriander
Fresh Coriander
Pinch of Ground Ginger or 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ginger, grated (optional)
2 Tablespoons Solid Coconut Milk
Handful of Spinach or Kale, wilted/sauteed
Water

METHOD

Start by cooking the quinoa in double its amount of water (in this case, 2 cups water). Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Once the quinoa is fully cooked and has absorbed all of the water used for boiling, leave the quinoa in the pan. Add the sweet potato to a blender with a little water and blend until a paste begins to form. It doesn’t need to be fully pureed and be sure to leave some of the cooked sweet potato aside if you would like a few whole pieces in the curry. Transfer the paste into the pan with the quinoa and add the spices, salt and coconut milk. Mix with a fork or a wooden spoon and combine the sweet potato entirely so that the quinoa is evenly coated. On a very low heat, re-heat the quinoa and add some water if you think the mixture needs thinning. If you are scared of making it too runny, don’t be, as the quinoa will continue to absorb the water if you heat it for long enough. Mix constantly until everything is combined and add the wilted greens if you are using them. Alternatively, dice the tops of some broccoli florets into the pan too to increase you green intake for the day. Leave on the heat until everything is combined and hot enough to serve.

I would suggest adding diced chicken or turkey or even prawns to this recipe to make it more of a meal. Alternatively you can add more vegetables or increase the amount of sweet potato used. Serve hot and remember to save any leftovers, because there is quite simply nothing like coming home to cold curry in the fridge, or having a delicious ready meal waiting for you when you can least be bothered to cook.


BEETROOT, COURGETTE AND CARROT SLAW

INGREDIENTS

1-2 Tablespoons Mustard
3 Tablespoons Coconut milk (tinned, at room temp)
2 Raw Beetroots
2 Carrots
1 Cup Cabbage
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Sumac
1-2 Teaspoons Lemon juice

METHOD
Simply grate all of your vegetables or shred them in your food processor. Place them together in the same bowl and mix and toss to combine. Add the salt, sumac and lemon juice and then mix again before spooning in the coconut milk and the mustard. If the coconut milk is especially stiff you may need to mash it gently with your fork before mixing it into the vegetables. Mix until the coconut milk and mustard have blended completely into the vegetables and until everything is combined and fully coated. Add a tablespoon of water if you think the mixture is too thick and dry. It really depends on what consistency the coconut milk is at when you use it. 


MINTED AVOCADO

INGREDIENTS

1 Ripe Avocado
2 Tablespoons Water
A Splash of Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Grated Carrot or Courgette
Large Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves
Pinch of Salt

METHOD:
Simply pace all of the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2 minutes until completely smooth.

This dip is a smoother version of mashed avocado or guacamole and is more like a cream than most other dips. This side is extremely refreshing and is perfect for a curry dish or something spicy and flavoursome if, like me, you are a former condiment addict. I used to love creme fraiche with curry or fajitas for a cooling taste sensation.

+ Also delicious with kale chips, sweet potato chips, courgette chips, raw vegetables and raw crackers as well as on homemade seeded toast. It is so versatile and because it doesn’t have an overpowering flavour, it would work well served with sweet things too, instead of whipped cream.