Archive for the ‘ Indian ’ Category

Siri Satisfies

Siri is where Toki Doki was, at the top of Lord Edward Street, opposite Fishamble Street.

OutsideSide

I wrote about Toki Doki here, but I had the feeling even then that it might not survive. This particular premises has had a significant turnover of businesses over the years. It’s just a little too far away from the burgeoning restaurant zones at the bottom of South Great George’s Street, the middle of Dame Street, Parliament Street and Temple Bar to be noticed. And it’s on the wrong side of the road to capture passing tourist trade from Christ Church Cathedral. Let’s hope that Siri does a bit better.

ccc

Siri (here’s its Facebook page) opened about four months ago. Lucinda O’Sullivan’s write-up (here) describes the people behind it, so I won’t.

Inside, it’s small, clean and bright, with nice bold patterns on the walls. There’s a small counter, about four high stools, a small bench and the kitchen/ serving area.

Inside

So, essentially, it’s a take-away. It also, unusually, offers a delivery service to offices at lunch time in what it terms ‘temperature controlled containers’.

This fact brought to mind a rather touching film I saw last year, called ‘The Lunchbox‘.

lunchbox-poster

Set in Mumbai, it’s about the development of a epistolary relationship between a woman and an older man based on a rare mis-direction of a lunchbox in the famous dabbawalla system of lunch deliveries in the city. If you get a chance to see it – do.

Siri has three distinct menus, as you can see here. Among the standards, there are a few unusual dishes that look interesting. I’m not quite sure of the point of the In-house menu, though. There’s not much space for in-housing, so to speak. (Clicking on these menus embiggens them, cromulently, obvs. Clicking again makes them readable.)

In-house menu

In-house menu

Take-away menu

Take-away menu

The menu that attracted my attention was the Lunchbox menu. This image is from the leaflet available in the shop which explains the lunch box concept and also has slightly different pricing from the version on Siri’s website.

siri lunchbox-1I went in ready to order the Vegetable Dhansak but ended up ordering the Mutter Paneer.

Paneer, as you probably know, is a fresh curd cheese made from milk. In Mutter or Mattar Paneer, the cheese is combined with peas and is served in a tomato based sauce, accompanied by rice or bread.

Here’s how mine was presented …

Lunch covered

… and when I took off the lid …

Lunchuncovered

… steamy and inviting. The green stuff beside the rice is rocket, by the way. Undressed.

I tucked in. Pretty good. Basmati rice, nicely cooked. Rocket, fresh. The paneer was firm and creamy.

Paneer

The peas were … well … peas, and the sauce was tasty and, without being critical, I would describe it as unexceptional. But pleasantly unexceptional. It had a nice chilli kick to it, providing a tingly mouth sensation rather than a blow your head off one.

There was plenty of it, although I might have liked a few more cubes of paneer and maybe a spoon. But, as I’ve said before: hey, this was a plentiful feed and it cost a mere fiver. And that, in post-recession, let’s dust off the party hats and queue up to buy a house off the plans Dublin, is good value. And it seemed more so because it was a dirty day and because of the gracious and friendly way I was greeted and treated.

If you’re in the area, pop in. And really, trust me, it’s worth a bit of a walk if you happen to be lurking somewhere further down Dame Street.

 

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Ambala on Camden Street

Good grief. People all over the city are buying overpriced sandwiches or saturated fat in a bun when they could be sampling the delights of South India – for under a fiver.

Today, I ateforafiver in Ambala which is at the top of Camden Street, opposite the Camden Court Hotel and quite near the Bleeding Horse pub.

Pic courtesy of http://www.sidewalksafari.com/

I always thought that Ambala was just an Indian sweet shop but, walking by it the other day, I spotted a sign in the window offering Masala Dosa for €4.95. So, today, I thought I’d give it a try.

Outside, one of the staff members was trying to tempt customers in with some Indian snacks but without much luck. For most of my time there (I got there at about 1.05pm) I was the only sit-down customer.

One other person arrived before I left. They did tell me, however, that it gets busy at weekends. I certainly hope so.

I ordered my Masala Dosa before I sat down (in a spotlessly clean dining area). While waiting I had a look at the menu. Masala Dosa is not the only sub-fiver item. Various snacks, starters, specials and other dosas come in under the magic limit.

I had a little look at the sweets on offer while I waited and also watched my dosa taking shape. There’s a huge selection of sweets there: laddoos, halwas, gulab jamuns, jalebis and so on. If you haven’t tasted these before, do it soon. Very tasty and more-ish.

My Masala Dosa arrived …

The dosa was huge and generously stuffed with mildly spiced potato. The dosa itself was crispy and obviously (given that I’d just seen it being made) fresh. It came on a metal plate, as you can see, with (from the right) coconut, a sambar, and a tomato based spicy sauce.

I ate with gusto. It was filling and very tasty. For people with an aversion to spicy heat this would be an ideal introduction to subtly spiced Indian food. It’s also pretty authentic (see my post on Madina, for details), and not the over-sauced, over-chillied oil fest that passes for much Indian food in Dublin. And not a Peshwari Naan in sight!

Yum …

And, of course …

Camden Street isn’t out of the way. This is a good place to eat. Go.

 

 

Dublin Food Co-Op

The spouse is a member of the Dublin Food Co-op and knows it very well from her attendance at occasional comedy improvisation workshops held there. You’d be unlikely to come across it by accident – it’s in Newmarket Square near the Coombe, having started life many years ago in St Andrew’s Resource Centre in Pearse Street.

The co-op is open on Saturdays (9-4.30), Thursdays (12-8) and occasional Sundays (opening times vary). I’ve only ever been there on a Saturday, so I’m not sure what the food offerings are on the other days.

There’s a main cafe which serves a variety of pizzas, soup, fritatta, sandwiches, pancakes, cakes and beverages. Today, a fiver would have got you courgette soup, a small slice of fritatta, ‘amazing eggs’ on brioche, or tomato, rocket, mozzarella and pesto on toasted foccacia.

However, we decided to get our lunch from a stall next to the main cafe called North Indian Gourmet Delight, which is run by this nice man here.

The nice man who runs North Indian Gourmet Delight

He sells bhajis, samosas, vegetable curry, and rice, to take with you or to eat there. We asked him whether he would make up a plates for us for a fiver each, and he graciously obliged.

Each plate comprised basmati rice, a spoonful of vegetable curry and a spoonful of chickpea salad. Actually, mine also contained a bhaji, but that might have been because I told him about this blog. I shared it with my dining companions.

The young lad's plate (The spouse's was the same)

My food, complete with bhaji

These were modest portions, but certainly enough for lunch. The food was warm rather than hot.

Very tasty, though. We’ve bought bhajis from this man before. They’re a good size, nicely spiced and onion-sweet. The rice was well cooked but could have been a little warmer. The vegetable curry contained carrots, onion, cauliflower, aubergine and fresh tomato. And the chickpea salad contained chickpeas (obvs), potato and slices of fresh chilli. Yum. We all enjoyed it.

The co-op itself is in a large warehouse. On the left as you go in is a good-sized shop selling grains, pulses, seeds, teas, soaps and all the other goods you’d expect to find in such a shop. If you’re a member of the co-op (€25 a year) you’ll get a discount (but this doesn’t apply to the hot food stalls).

In the main body of the building there are a few stalls selling a massive variety of fresh organic fruit and vegetables. There are also stalls selling baked goods, savouries, cheeses and other dairy products, smellies, jewellery and wine.

The internals

In addition to the cafe and the North Indian stall, there is another stall selling hot food – bhajis, samosas, spring rolls and so on.

At the far end of the hall there are tables and chairs in a variety of shapes and sizes, where you can sit, eat, drink and chat. As you might expect, there’s a lot of natural fibre being worn and many of the older customers sport refreshingly undyed grey hair. There was a nice relaxed atmosphere about the place.

We were there quite early (12.30ish) and it was quiet enough but the spouse assures me that it gets very busy at other times of the year so avoid trying to get a table at about 1.

Do visit. It’s a nice place and well worth supporting.

 

 

Madina on Mary Street

My late and much missed Father-in-law, Tom, took me to Southall in west London a few years ago and introduced me to the delights of Masala Dosa, a very simple dish consisting of a rice-based pancake stuffed with spiced potato and served with sambar (a lightly spiced sauce) and sometimes a coconut chutney. I loved it and, until recently, it was something you couldn’t find in Dublin.

Tom was Anglo-Indian and was born and grew up in Chennai, the place they used to call Madras, in South India. He was an excellent cook and, try as I do, I have never been able to quite match the flavoursome dishes he prepared. His parathas were legendary and both my children would use their rather strong powers of persuasion to get him to make a huge batch on his visits to us, which he would do with remarkable good grace.

The reason I mention this is that one of the few places that serves Masala Dosa in Dublin now is Madina on Mary Street. Madina is properly called Madina Desi Curry Co. Desi, in this context, as far as I can find out, means old fashioned real native food, as you would find it in India.

My dining partners

The two boys and I had a late lunch there today and, I have to say, it’s a bit of a find. It’s an unassuming place with tables on the ground floor and first floor. Downstairs was full and we were shown upstairs and provided with menus and water in a stoppered bottle.

The menu is varied and interesting with more vegetarian dishes than meat-based ones. Starters and snacks start at about €3.50 and most main courses seem to be priced somewhere between €4.95 and €8.95. Special offers are advertised in the front window and on a menu supplement. Indian music played gently in the background as we made our choices.

We each chose a dish costing €4.95: Son #1 went for Chicken Biryani, Son #2 for Masala Dosa and I chose Uttapham.

The food arrives when it’s ready with the Masala Dosa making an appearance first. An impressive sight, the pancake was huge, with a generous potato stuffing and small dishes of sambar and coconut chutney. The young lad was delighted, saying that it was one of the best vegetarian meals he’s ever had.

The young lad's Masala Dosa

 

My Uttapham arrived next. Uttapham (or more usually Uttapam) is a thick pancake made from ground rice (partially fermented) and lentils. A small amount of onion, tomato or finely chopped vegetables is mixed into the batter before cooking. Like the Masala Dosa, it is served with a small dish of sambar and some coconut chutney. It looked appetising, tasted great, was very filling and I very much enjoyed it.

My Uttapham

 

Last to arrive was the big lad’s Chicken Biryani. This was a big plate of Biryani, served with a delicious sauce on the side, tasting of fresh spices and coriander. The Biryani was generously laden with chicken pieces (on the bone) with pretty well every part of the chicken used. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, it takes a fair amount of food to fill the big lad, but he was satisfied with this feast.

The big lad's Chicken Biryani

 

Until relatively recently, most Indian restaurants in Dublin were stuffed with wood carvings, brass fittings, incense and expensive menus containing the usual vindaloos, tikkas and tandooris. Thankfully things are changing. Of course there is a place for reasonably good Indian food, adapted for western tastes and expectations, and served graciously in comfortable surroundings. But there is also a place for what I think is probably a more authentic south Asian eating experience, where the food is freshly prepared with a minimum of fuss, is served when it’s ready, and doesn’t cost the earth. Madina fits this bill nicely.

Speaking of bills. Here it is. Filling, tasty, satisfying food for three at €14.85. Awesome.

The bill ... for 3!

Go there. Eat. Enjoy.

Delhi O’Deli

I spotted this place a few weeks back when wandering down Moore Street. It’s nothing much to look at from outside. And it’s pretty plain inside too, but we weren’t there to look at the décor.

I had two places in mind for lunch and I gave the young lad the choice of streets. He chose Moore Street.

Delhi O’Deli is about half way along Moore Street and it was reasonably full when we got there. Full mostly of people who looked as if they came from the Indian sub-continent.

Delhi O’Deli is a vegetarian restaurant and you’d be hard pressed to find anything on the menu that costs over a fiver, so we’ll be back to try out some other goodies in the future.

Delhi O'Deli, 12 Moore Street, Dublin 1

We went for the Daily Fiver dishes. Each day the restaurant prepares a different set of dishes and, for a fiver, you can fill your plate with rice (a choice of plain basmati or pilau) and choose one or more of the dishes on offer. There is also a basket of poppadoms, some raita and jugs of water.

Reasonably, there are notices up saying that you can have only one serving (meaning that you can’t keep loading up your plate) and that you can’t share.

The young lad chose tarka dhal and a pasta-based curry.

The young lad's choice

 

I had a moong dhal and mutter paneer.

My lunch

I don’t want to go overboard here but the food was very tasty, and not over-spiced in the way that some places go heavy on the chilli powder just to create heat. It was much tastier and far better cooked than a meal the spouse and I had in a much pricier Indian restaurant on Baggot Street a few evenings ago.

It’s not a place to linger. It was very busy (we got there just after 1pm) and there were people queuing for tables, so we ate and left.

I have to admit that it is an extraordinary and gratifying feeling to go to a till and hand over a tenner for lunch for two, and feel satisfied. Highly recommended.

Very light damage

 

If you are looking for cheap, good value food, Moore Street seems to be well worth exploring. After lunch we went for a wander. A few doors up from Delhi O’Deli, we came across a Chinese fast food buffet place where you can pile your plate high for €4.99 (noted for a future post).

A little further towards Parnell Street, a food sign caught my attention. We went in the door and down an escalator into the Moore Street Mall. Various mobile phone unlocking stalls, hair salons, eastern European grocery shops and THEN, a food court. While only one place will fulfil my current eatforafiver criterion, there was a line of buffet restaurants with ‘all you can eat’ offers from €5.99 to about €8. The eatforafiver contender is Balkan and I’ll visit it later in the summer.

 

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