The Chilli Pickle: a time for friends

So today marks what would have been a very dear friends 31st birthday, so in a change of tradition as previously it would have been a day of wallowing and feeling sad, we decided to celebrate. After all he was known for being irritatingly upbeat and unfazed by bad news! So what better way to celebrate a friendship and remember the good times than to go for a gin based cocktail and a delicious meal.

I decided before we had even arrived that tonightwas not about worrying about calories or fat or carbs or sugar or any of the other things we are told to worry about – I forgot alcohol – but I never worry about alcohol as you have to live right!

On that note, we started with drinks…cocktails! I chose The Hendricks a gin based cocktail with, you guessed it, Hendricks gin, elderflower, cucumber, fresh lime & fresh mint. Ben went for the slightly more exotic Goan Punch; a Drambuie based concoction involving mango chutney, basil, fresh ginger juice, ground cardamom & fresh Lime. I have to say, and I know I am biased, I won on the selection stakes. The Hendricks was cooling and refreshing, ideal accompaniment to spicy food! Ben’s cocktail was delicious, however for me, more suited to cooler evenings or something different for the winter months as the mixture of spices and whisky made for a very, VERY warming drink. However preferences aside they were perfect beverages for a ‘happy birthday’ toast.

Next we selected the main event, food! Ben having already selected a very spicy drink went on to order the Allepey Farmers Chicken; a south Indian chicken curry with fresh coriander, mint, green chilli – yes more spice – black peppercorns (also warming), ginger (spicy) and coconut milk with tempered lemon rice. He added a green chilli cheese naan to finish of his warm and spicy selection. I went for the Nawabs Chicken Biryani; chicken thigh pieces with roasted masala, basmati rice, saffron, dried lime, screwpine essence and black pepper served with riatte, fresh dates (one of the main reasons I made this choice), onions salad and mango pickle. So yes I also had selected a spicy dish, but don’t forget our drink choices! I added a sweet peshwari naan to accompany my biryani.

First impression: AMAZING! Both dishes were delicious and the chicken practically fell apart – it really couldn’t be faulted. Then Ben tried his naan, what a face, it was beautifully cooked with a good covering of cheese…and a whole lot of chilli. For a person who doesn’t particularly like spicy food I had questioned his choices but he was content and it would have been perfect if his drink had not been warming, as well as a spicy curry. However the faces and the mild heat sweats had me laughing so, to be honest, I think his discomfort was worth it! My biryani was also warming and quite possibly one of the best Indian dishes I’ve ever eaten. I had a sweet naan and a refreshing drink on my side though, so the slightly spicy curry was kept nicely at bay. I did brave the chilli naan but after one bite followed by some seriously numb lips I decided to not be greedy and left the rest to Ben!

Having consumed our weight in rice, chicken and naan we both felt sufficiently stuffed yet the offer of the dessert menu put the glint back in the boys eye and ‘we had to have a look’ as he knew one thing for sure: “oh I definitely want something, I just don’t know what yet”. As it turns out he wanted six things!

  • Cranberry Milk Barfi
  • Cashew Jaggery Toffee
  • Mango Leather
  • Mini Gulab Jaman
  • Mini Rasmalai
  • White Chocolate Cointreau Truffle

He tells me after trying half of each that three were lovely, one not so nice and the others undecided – he then finished them all. He also had no idea which was which! I went for the safer bet; Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Kulfi and I was far from disappointed. It was better than I expected and my first ever dessert in an Indian restaurant – I will definitely be having it again. It was like chocolate ice cream that had been packed full of fruit and nut, this was on top of the crushed raspberries and massive piece of honeycomb!

It’s safe to say that we will be back again, we had a lovely evening and it was a lovely (and very civilised way) to celebrate. I wont be eating for a week though!