Tom’s pick of home-delivered Indian and Sri Lankan dishes.
So here we are again, pubs shuttered, restaurants closed, our hospitality industry on the edge of collapse. The furlough scheme may ensure that employees are looked after, but those bills keep flooding in. And it’s not just the restaurateurs, publicans and hoteliers that suffer, but the whole supply chain. Which is why our support is more important than ever.
Restaurants and producers have pivoted with admirable speed, putting together magnificent cook-at-home kits, giving a taste of your favourite place delivered to your door. I’ll be picking the very best, available nationwide, from the glittering heights of Michelin-starred masters, to the more homely charms of dazzling regional cuisines. Along with takeaway reviews and favourite suppliers. Not so much Eat Out To Help Out, as Splash Out To Keep Them Alive.
This week, Indian and Sri Lankan food. These were all sent to me free, but from next week, I’ll be paying full price for every kit. First up, the Ambassador General Store (1, ambassadorgeneralstore.com), from the team behind Gymkhana and Brigadiers. Packaging is handsome, instructions clear, flavours sublime.
Pork cheek vindaloo is my favourite, along with tandoori masala lamb chops, garlic butter pepper crab and achari beef short rib. This really is restaurant quality and, while not cheap (£36 for the lamb chops), offers seriously good value.
As does Clay’s Hyderabadi Kitchen (2, clayskitchen.co.uk),which delivers some of the most thrilling regional Indian food I’ve eaten for years. Soft, spicy pea patties, mashed potato kebabs stuffed with peas and green chilli. Tomato dahl, a gentle aubergine curry, good rotis, beautiful biryanis and ‘wedding style green chicken’ curry, a masterpiece of succour and spice (curries and biryanis £9-£16 each).
Aktar Islam is one of the country’s finest Indian chefs, and Opheem, in Birmingham, his crowning glory. News that he’s doing meal kits is very exciting (3, aktarathome.co.uk): £70 gets you ten different regional dishes, from korma to keema to chilli paneer and Malabar fish. Plus naan, Hyderabadi style milk bread and basmati rice. Incredible value for such exceptional food.
Finally, to Sri Lanka with Hoppers (4, hopperscashandkari.com), where there’s a cracking selection of kits, from Kalupol chicken (whole chicken plus mutton rolls, sambol and roti and more, £45) to lamb kothu roti and a vegan option too.
Olly’s wild South African wine
I dream of returning to South Africa. Visiting the wine regions with their majestic crags, coastal drama and rolling valleys reminds me of hot Scotland. Next best thing to visiting is, of course, a glass of local vino with a style to suit everyone. Sauvignon Blanc from the Cape is stellar and my two other tips are to pick from off the beaten track and splash out – rather like a ticket to Cape Town, your cash goes a long way.
BRUCE JACK SAUVIGNON BLANC 2020 (13%), £7, Tesco. Baby Sancerre! Both punchy and zesty, a pure joyful bargain.
HOUSE OF DREAMS GRENACHE 2020 (13.5%), £9, Marks & Spencer. Silky, spicy red with a bit of poke. Heaven paired with a roast.
THE CHOCOLATE BLOCK 2019 (14.5%), from £21.99 for mix six, Majestic. This rich redisa masterfully blended South African icon.
MOMENTO TINTA BAROCCA 2018 (13%), £27.08, armit wines.co.uk. Tense and thrilling as a cherry fired from a cannon. Magic with duck.
WINE OFTHE WEEK: BABYLONSTOREN SHIRAZ 2018 (14.5%), £15.75, shop.thenewtinsomerset.com.
A bold, smoky bottle with peppery spice and delightful character. Red of heaven.