Karak Chai Recipe

Karak Chai Recipe

I’ll begin with something I dislike in food recipe posts. For reasons unknown to me, bloggers seem to make every effort to write 90% of the post about the origins or main consumers of the beverage or meal without telling you how it is made or which ingredients you need! the guide itself is almost an afterthought. Not on Cedric Suggests! I shall keep inane and irrelevant descriptions to one paragraph. Karak Chai is made with black loose tea leaves, crushed cardamom, saffron and sugar and evaporated milk. It is possible to use cardamon flavoured evaporated milk but I do not believe such a luxury to be available in the Tesco Metro near me.

Its origins lie in South Asia, and though this flavourful and milky tea is part of the Qatari tradition today, it actually comes from Indian and Pakistani households were this Karak is a part of their everyday lives and is known mostly as ‘Masala Chai’, roughly translated as tea with spices, or ‘Karak Chai’, roughly translated as strong tea with the word ‘Chai’ coming from the Chinese word for tea ‘Cha’.

It’s believed that when the workers came down to Qatar from India and Pakistan in the 1950s – 1960s to take part in building the country’s infrastructure around the time when oil had just been discovered, they found it hard to leave their love of this sweet milky tea behind and bought the recipe with them to Qatar to remind them of home. I Love Qatar

Ingredients – makes 2 cups of tea

2 cups water (475 ml)

3 teaspoons of loose leaf black tea (three teabags are also effective)

1.3 cups evaporated milk (300ml)

2 teaspoons of sugar (sweeteners also an option)

4-5 cardamon pods crushed

1 small piece of cinnamon

3-4 strands saffron (optional)

Recipe

  1. Boil the water and pour it into a saucepan
  2. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon, and tea. I put these in my tea infuser to minimise mess.
  3. Bring it to boil, with the tea infuser, then once the water is boiled add milk and sugar.
  4. Let the mixture come to boil again
  5. Set a timer for 4 minutes. Once the mixture is boiling it will boil over so remove it from the heat when it does. Once it has calmed down put it back on the heat. Repeat this for the duration of the 4 minutes.
  6. Once you see the tea has a dark caramel colour, turn off the heat.
  7. Pour the tea into a mug and enjoy!

Apologies for the wretched weather in the above photograph. I was surprised at how sweet this recipe was so would advise using less sweet black loose leaf tea to begin with and evaporated milk instead of condensed milk. Then you can add the sugar to regulate it to your liking. Overall, this is a sterling winter beverage and I believe this one is superior to the one at Damascena!

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn – Daleightful Lunch

The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn – Daleightful Lunch

The Sandpiper Inn is a 17th century pub with a cosy interior in the heart of Leyburn. Leyburn is a village which is itself in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, where I spent some time a few months ago. Alas I have only just gotten round to writing up a review of the Daleightful experience, pardon the pun, and am not aware of the current state of the ever-oscillating COVID restrictions at the time of the publication of this review. Rest assured dear reader, I attended when it was acceptable to do so.

Now that the outrageous floundering is out of the way, I can talk about the delightful meal which we experienced. This was my favourite meal which was not the one I ordered. the Sandpiper Burger was just superb. It had a beef steak burger, streaky bacon and smoked cheddar as well as delightfully crunchy bacon. I am unsure whether the beef was local and fed on Wensleydale grass only but it had quite a unique flavour. The texture was quite novel and smokier than what I was used to. The bun itself was a sensation and held the burger together wonderfully, which is always a good sign in a burger. Overall excellent.

M’colleague had the pan fried sea bream on linguine. Sea Bream is considered to be the tastiest of all fish. Its flavour is both clean and meat like. Regular readers of this blog will know that I detest fish and what with social distancing I did not get close enough to M’colleague to sample his dish. Suffice to say by the state of paralysis he found himself in after lunch, one can surmise the dish was a success.

My dish was a true showstopper.  Lemon scented Nidderdale chicken breast on a chorizo, sweetcorn, piquillo pepper and basil mint risotto. This was explosively flavoursome. The sweet and spicy flavour of the chorizo blended beautifully with the savoury rice and parmesan. It is almost a shame the menu is changed every day because I would rather like to have this dish again next time I visit.

Overall the Sandpiper Inn is a distinguished restaurant in the heart of the Dales which offers a delightful and economic fare ahead of any cheese infused afternoon adventures. It is highly recommended.

Tisane Tea Rooms – Afternoon (Tea) Delight, Broadway, Cotswolds

Tisane Tea Rooms – Afternoon (Tea) Delight, Broadway, Cotswolds

Tisane’s Tea Rooms are very much typical of the Broadway ideal – charming, traditional and quintessentially English. It sits on Lower High Street, metres away from the town Green, which I found to be the greatest attraction of the town. After a largely adequate lunch up the road at the Horse and Hound, we decided to have dessert at a different venue. Tisane’s was on the original itinerary for lunch but we ended up going there for scones.

And what scones! These were superbly soft, airy and light scones. Interestingly, scones were thought to have originated in Scotland and were originally round and flat instead of the modern bulky round modern shape.  These fruit scones were a lot smaller than they look in the photograph. I so enjoyed them with the clotted cream and strawberry jam on offer.

Another highlight of this tea room is the excellent variety of hot beverages. They have 40 loose leaf teas on offer. These include Assam, Ceylon, Earl Grey English Breakfast, Lapsang Souchong, Rwanda Burundi  and Spiced Chai Yunnan. I have tried Lapsang Souchong tea once after watching The Mentalist and found it to be almost as revolting as some of the acts of Red John, the serial murderer in the series. I had a pot of English Breakfast as I am not terribly adventurous when it comes to trying new teas. Excellent, as expected.

Overall, while I cannot write a comprehensive review of everything the Tea Rooms had to offer, I was left with an excellent first impression and will endeavour to return as soon as I can face the climb to Broadway Tower again. Tisane’s is highly recommended. And it is cheap at the price(as opposed to anything else), to boot.

 

The Stable – Solid Meal, Birmingham City Centre

The Stable – Solid Meal, Birmingham City Centre

NB – Unfortunately The Stable has closed since this review was written. Please take this piece as an appreciative tribute to the excellent food and service we experienced there. 

During the first national lockdown (of three), Matthew and I would walk past The Stable frequently. We would observe the plants inside die slowly which each passing day. The Stable had remained shut through most of the lockdown, all the way through August, in fact. We would bemoan the fact that we were not able to avail ourselves of Mr Sunak’s aptly named Eat Out To Help Out (or, as London Lady Emily put it ‘Go Down to Save Town’) scheme. However, much to our indescribable glee, The Stable opened its doors again and allowed visitors to avail themselves of a 50% discount all the way through September. This post is an amalgam of the two visits we made in that time.

Firstly I would like to highlight the star of the show, the Sheppy’s low alcohol cider. This was the sweetest most delightfully fizzy, apple tasting cider I have sampled. I was really very impressed with it and felt I had to share this.

Sadly, the menu this first month is reduced to the Pizza and Sharer menu. However, we did not let this stop us. The only downfall of course is that after 2 visits, one samples most of the menu. This is hardly a complaint however, as most of it was delicious. Above is pictured the garlic bread sharer pizza. This consisted of sourdough pizza base, garlic butter and chopped parsley. The thing which ties the bases together in this restaurant is how thin and light the dough it. I have yet to leave this restaurant feeling overfilled, as it were. We had this alongside the Pesto Pecker salad, consisting of chicken thigh, pesto, heritage tomato, green leaves, cucumber and green onion, topped with garlic croutons and fresh chillies. I do not have a picture of it as it was too dark at the time, however I can confirm that it was highly flavoursome. The pesto and the chicken, cold, with salad is an excellent healthy meal. The portion was large enough for both Matthew and I, which is rare.

The best pizza I sampled was the Longhorn Tim, with marinated ground beef, chorizo, field mushrooms, mozzarella and red onion topped with smoked ham. Though, as you can see, I replaced the beef with sriracha chicken, performing a small part in slowing down climate change. The pizza was a masterful collection of flavours. the smoked ham and chorizo went so very well together. The melted cheese was not overwhelming and the bass was so thin that I could handle three quarters of it all by myself like a big boy. Normally I would only eat half of a pizza at a time, if at all.

This was the vegan pizza on offer. Normally I would spit on the ground thrice at the very mention of the V word but on this occasion I was surprised at how flavoursome and balanced this pizza was. The Blazing Jack contained rapscallion BBQ jackfruit with roasted peppers, caramelised onion and vegan mozzarella, finished with jalapeños and butterbean aioli. Together, this was not as great as my pizza but was a tasty alternative to environmental destruction (with exception of the soy cheese and most soy products).

The Hazelnutter was another vegetarian feast. Comprising of spinach, field mushrooms, caramelised onion, green beans and vegan cheese, topped with, you guessed it, hazelnuts, this was excellently tasty and greatly fibrous. The tartness of the caramelised onion was weighed beautifully against the more bland mushrooms and beans. Again, this was a light and highly flavoursome pizza which impressed me.

Overall, the Stable is a solid choice for lunch or dinner. It is light and cost effective, even without the 50% discount of up to £10. Additionally, it is right in the heart of Birmingham. You can see New Street Station clearly from most seats in the restaurant.

 

The Horse and Hounds – Great Pub Dining, Broadway

The Horse and Hounds – Great Pub Dining, Broadway

If you happen to be in Broadway, chances are you are en route to, or have just come back from, Broadway Tower. Either way, a wonderful stop you may consider is The Horse and Hounds pub. This was not the world’s greatest restaurant however, it was a good pub grub and had an excellent selection of alcoholic beverages. In addition, it was far enough away from central Broadway to avoid the thrall of eager tourists and enjoy some relative peace. We ate in the back garden on one of the last days of summer, which was quite wonderful as you can imagine.

Our first foray into rural Worcester pub grub was the meat sharing platter. You may be unsurprised that this arrived at our table with relative speed. I suspect this is because the majority of what you see came out of a slim plastic packet from Tesco. I may be wrong, mind, but this was far from the locally sourced meat feast I was expecting. Additionally there was far too much balsamic vinegar mixed with the olive oil. I was left with gloop on my bread!

I, in a rare concession to my worst judgment, ordered the beef burger. Large scale beef production has an absolutely appalling impact on the environment hence I have cut it out of my diet except for on very few occasions a year. This beef burger was okay, I enjoyed the cheese and bacon combination. The bread was lovely and soft. The texture of the beef itself was a bit jarring but perhaps that is because I so seldom eat it these days. The chips on my plate were outstanding, however. Perfectly cooked and salted.

The onion rings were not half bad either. They are too curiously uniform to have been made at home that day. Matthew and I suspect they are from a frozen bag of some kind. But again this is pub grub and it was not at all expensive.

I am posting the above as a public service announcement to those of you considering ordering the pizza. As with most pub pizzas, the dough is not home made and is in fact, somewhat reminiscent of a fresh digestive biscuit. This shocking betrayal of culinary standards aside, pubs always seem to get the topping right on pizzas like this. The cheese is plentiful and the tomato is often fresh. I did not expect them to put a slice of tomato on the pizza itself, but then again, this is England, and people do not know what they are doing.

One of the more successful dishes in the repertoire of this pub was the vegetable lasagna. This was a deceptively large helping and steeped in about one inch of cheese, as you can see. This was my favourite meal of the whole lunch. This had layers and flavours without committing the cardinal sin of resorting to beef. Phil was extremely full after this and could barely handle the dessert we ordered form the next restaurant we attended that afternoon. More on this in a separate post.

Finally, the infamous scampi. One of my colleagues scanned the menu ahead of ordering, declared aloud that she did not like scampi, then proceeded to order the scampi. Lo and behold, by a shocking turn of events, she did not enjoy the scampi. This came as no surprise to this reviewer, who predicted the sequel of the onion rings: ‘The Freezer Strikes Again’. I did not think to sample the scampi. I could not take any more heartbreak.

Overall, the food in the pub was a solid meh. The drinks were lovely, they even had Heineken Zero for my tee total colleague. My Orchard Pigs cider was lovely, this, with Orchard Thieves, form my two favourite ciders of the summer. The atmosphere of The Horse and Hounds is lovely, the building itself is gorgeous and the location is stunning. This is the place to go if you do not want to spend too much, have a sort of decent meal and be as far away as possible from sodding tourists.

 

The Tannin Level – Staggering Dining, Harrogate

The Tannin Level – Staggering Dining, Harrogate

I hesitated for a moment when drafting this post, I considered putting the Tannin Level in the art category of Cedric Suggests. The Tannin Level was always a place I would aspire to dine when living in Harrogate. By virtue of my, then, extreme youth, I did not have the funds to do so. Thankfully the times have changed and in my favour. This was the first stop we made on our way up to the Yorkshire Dales and was well worth the two hour drive.

The Tannin Level is a below ground restaurant on Raglan street in the heart of Harrogate which boasts some of the finest and most reasonably priced foods in town. We began with the Tasting Board which consisted of mini fish & chips, Smoked haddock & leek fishcake, honey roast chorizo, crispy halloumi, chicken liver parfait, dressed leaves and grilled bread. It is difficult for me to pin down a favourite component of this lavish tasting board as everything was exceptional. Perhaps the most fantastic was the chicken liver parfait, which, as the name suggests, was perfect. It reminded me of the home made parfait I would have at Christmas in France. The waiter did reveal to me that this was likely because the parfait, as with everything else on the menu, was made fresh on the premises each day.

The chorizo was delightfully oily and yet somehow soft. The halloumi was seasoned in a way I had not encountered before. More on the batter on the fish and chips below…

What amazed me about the fish and chips was the way the batter stuck to the fish itself so tightly. This is achieved by adding baking soda and some sparkling water to the batter mix. This helps with wasted batter and gives a far more accurate picture of what lies beneath. Additionally, my worry with fish and chips is often how much batter there is on the damned thing. I will usually be full once a fraction of this batter is consumed so was most grateful to the Tannin Level for eliminating this problem. The haddock itself was divine as we had come to expect. The mushy peas were also a star of the show, they were pureed to perfection and had a tantalising flavour which I am at a loss to describe to you.

Nick and I ordered the Trio of Pork which consisted of crispy Yorkshire belly pork, 6 hour braised pork cheek, French black pudding pasty, buttered mash, honey glazed Chantenay carrots, baked apple puree and red wine jus. This was nothing short of masterful. The black pudding was encased in home made pastry and was so fine in texture I could not believe what I was eating. It was beyond anything I expected. I sawed off the crackling and handed this to Matthew, who devoured it with aplomb. I’ve never been one for crunchy meat. The remaining pork on my plate did not last very long. It was so soft and flavoursome. It fell apart on the fork but still held together enough to be chewy. The apple sauce was probably some of the best I have ever tried. There were only a few splodges here and there but it was enough to make a marked impression on me. Overall a sensational dish.

We were so thoroughly impressed with our meal at the Tannin Level. I am now cross with myself for not going more often when I lived in town. If you are in Harrogate and have a spare £20, go for lunch at the Tannin Level, you won’t regret it one bit!