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This meal was a combination of two different fish recipes. The original inspiration came from a booklet from the British Heart Foundation which I found myself reading at lunchtime on Friday. This recipe was for sea bass with panch phoran (which is an Indian spice mix - the name literally means '5 spices' but the mix is very different to the more common chinese 5-spice).
I didn't have any panch phoran but was fortunate to have all the individual spices in the kitchen. I started by putting equal amounts of Cumin,Fennel,Black Onion, Fenugreek and Yellow Mustard seeds into a pestle and mortar and started to crush them. I added a pinch of coarse sea salt to help crush the seeds.
The breadcrumb topping was based on a recipe from the BBC website. Their original recipe used herbs and garlic as seasoning but I simply used the spice mix instead.
To make the breadcrumb topping, I took 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, added ½ a teaspoon of each of:
- the spice mix,
- chilli flakes
along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mixed everything together before spreading it over the fish. I baked it in the oven at gas mark 6 for around 15-20 minutes.
Now I think this is the first time I've ever made a breadcrumb topping for fish and it surprised me by how quick it was to make. The spice mix went well with the fish.
We saw the naan breads being made on the Saturday Kitchen on TV and it looked so easy we decided to give it a go. We followed the recipe from the BBC web site but needed to add a few extra tablespoons of water to get the dough to come together properly. We also found that gas mark 1 was a bit low so turned the oven up to 2 and gave them a few more minutes.
The naan bread tasted like 'proper' bought ones. The black onion seeds are vitally important and give the bread most of its familiar flavour.
We served the naan breads with our chicken korma, and washed it down with a glass of Indian wine. The wine was an Indage 'The Grey Count' chenin blanc and went rather well with the curry. The wine was ok on its own but the spiciness of the curry seemed to bring out more flavour if you take a sip immediately after a mouthful of curry.
The Coventry Sikh Union holds their annual Vaisakhi Mela in the War Memorial Park. We went along today to see what was going on and to sample some of the food (Langar) on offer. The food may have been free but they were requesting a small charitable donation which seemed fair. We had a couple of plates and it was all good stuff.
We wandered around the stalls and fairground (most rides were £2.50 per person which seemed a bit much). We also discovered that the park has an aviary which we weren't aware of. It was fairly small and was mostly populated by various types of finches and a few cockatiels.
The much anticipated bar and restaurant complex in the Old Fire Station finally opened last month. One of the restaurants there is MYO which provides all-you-can-eat Indian, Chinese and Thai food.
They offer a fairly lacklustre salad bar but the Indian food really shines. There is a wide range of starters and curries. All the ones I tasted were very good with a nice balance of spice and heat. The Chinese food on offer includes a stir fry section where you choose from a range of meats and vegetables and have them cooked while you wait.
The dessert selection included the now ubiquitous chocolate fountain. There were mini bits of swiss roll and a really tasty treacle sponge available for dunking.
The only problem we encountered was when we asked for the bill. They initially tried to bill us for 8 people despite the fact that only 7 turned up. They were fairly quick at bringing us a corrected bill though. We were then horrified to find that they had added a 10% Service Charge. For a Self-Service restaurant! Drinks were brought to the table but we served ourselves food. One of our party paid by credit card and they forced him to pay the full amount including the compulsory enforced tip. We paid the rest of the bill in full and left them some change for the tip but it fell slightly short of the 10% they demanded. It soured the whole dining experience and I'm unlikely to ever go back there again.
We packed our sandwiches (and a frisbee) into the car and drove to the War Memorial Park for a picnic. As we approached, there were signs pointing to 'Event Parking'. We didn't know that there was anything going on so we decided to park and find out. It turned out to be the Vaisakhi 2005 festival, organised by the Coventry Sikh Union. This was some kind of open day/sports day/fair.
The only event we watched was the Tug-o-war but we did sample some of the food on offer. We bought a tray of a very spicy chick-pea curry from one stall before we found out that the other food stall was giving away free food (which explained the long queues outside). We had a sample of that as well - a chapatti with something potato based, and something probably lentil based. Whatever it was it tasted good.
Emma also managed to obtain a blue 'Vote Conservative' balloon from the local candidate (by suggesting that she deserves a balloon more than the children because she is old enough to vote and they aren't).