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What I learned at Cinnamon: the art of Indian cooking

I ate like a Queen this weekend.

Beautiful, refined and proper clever Indian cooking. The food successfully mixed authentic flavours from all over India with more classic European cooking techniques and styles, which always did service to the original dishes but enhanced the dining experience. This type of cooking is a real art; a dish is never changed for the sake of being different. Everything I tasted was true and intelligent, without trying to be fashionable or in trend.

I was privileged enough to spend the weekend as the guest of Vivek Singh at two of his three London restaurants, Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen.

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Wine & Spice: Tandoori saddle of Romney Marsh lamb with pickling sauce.

As well as the chance to explore the kitchen at Cinnamon Club, where I skipping around with a spoon like a kid in a sweet shop, I also attended their Wine & Spice pairing at Cinnamon Club and a Vegetarian Masterclass at Cinnamon Kitchen, hosted by head chef at Cinnamon Club Rakesh Ravindran Nair and manager Hari Nagaraj.

I took away with me so many tips. Here are my favourites:

  • A pinch of sugar: when cooking Indian food, don’t be afraid to add a little pinch of sugar to the dish– sometimes it is just what is needed to balance out the flavours of the dish and won’t necessarily just sweeten.
  • Which basmati to buy: cheap basmati is usually quite young; buy aged basmati, which is more expensive but has the best flavour
  • For perfect basmati rice: rinse and drain rice before you soak to avoid the rice breaking apart when it’s soaking
  • Hot oil: tempering oil should be FEROCIOUSLY hot to get the most flavour out of the aromatics
  • Patience is everything: you can’t rush good flavour; some dishes are just better the day after. Dahls, sauces and slow cooked meats can be cooked the day before and then combined with their fresh accompaniments (tandoori kebabs, rare meat, fish, bread and fresh vegetables) just before serving.
  • Fresh spices: after 3 months, dried spices lose their intensity. Keep them in airtight containers to keep their freshness
  • Red chilli powders really vary: some are mostly used for a vibrant red colour, were as some are really hot. At Cinnamon Kitchen they use Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • Too much salt: if you ever find you’ve added a little too much salt, try a pinch of sugar and a squeeze of lemon to balance the flavours out
  • Keeping the colour: use a pinch of bicarbonate of soda in boiling broccoli to keep the green
  • Garam masala: the ingredients used in garam masala change depending on where you are in India and whose making it. Cinnamon use rose petals and bay leaf in theirs.

And here’s what I ate:

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Starter at Food & Spice: scallop and salmon ceviche with pomegranate

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Pork chops marinated in apricot, red chilli and cinnamon

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Broccoli in yoghurt and marinaded paneer, in the tandoor

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Our vegetarian feast: griddled aubergines, raita, biryiani, spinach dumplings, asparagus, paneer tikka, dahl makhani, stir fried okra, spinach pakoras in yoghurt sauce

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Chargrilled baby aubergines with onion seed, fennel seed, chilli powder and salt

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Six of the more complex flavours of Indian cuisine: mace, star anise, cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, black cardamom and nutmeg

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Spice wall in the Cinnamon Club kitchen

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Tempered black cardamom, bayleaf and green cardamom for dahl makhani

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Stir fried okra

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Yoghurt and spice marinaded king prawn kebab ready for the tandoor

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Pastry section: gulab jamun and passionfruit tart

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The flavour section

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Tandoori paneer tikka with green chutney, tandoori brocolli with almonds, charred aubergine with peanut crust and tamarind sauce

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5 Comments

  1. Rhian says

    Omg Beth. That looks brilliant!!. The food looks so fresh and tasty. Will you cook these things for me when you come home next??? Xxxx

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    • Of course Rhian! I can’t wait to try them out myself. I need to invest in some proper Indian kit now though – i’m thinking a nice heavy pestle and mortar, and a tandoori oven! haha can you imagine!

      Like

  2. Jazz Rana says

    Hi Beth,

    Your blog is amazing! I recently visited the Cinnamon Club and tried the gulab Juman and passionfruit tart and it was unbelievable! I’d love to recreate it at home. Do you possibly have a recipe that you could share? I’d be most greatful.

    Jazz

    Like

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