If the allure of fat, salt, sugar, spice and all things nice has derailed your diet faster than a speeding bullet, rest assured you’re far from alone. But pack in the processed food and bin the biscuit tin, because you deserve better – indeed, you owe it to yourself to ensure that any extra winter insulation comes not from guilt inducing garbage but from enticingly-spiced Indian food.
No. 1: South Indian seafood at Masala Zone Covent Garden
The puppets that populate the restaurant’s roof might be from Rajasthan, but Masala Zone’s menu roves all over India. Highlights from a recent feast all came from the Southern states – and originated in the ocean.
Lightly-battered prawns with a piquant vindalho mayonnaise are the sort of tongue-tickling tidbits that transport you to a Goan beach – especially when chased with a guava-laced Boxwallah Punch. Prawn Alleppey sees the same shellfish swimming in a cracking Keralite gravy, while a quite brilliant biryani involves mixed seafood, coconut sauce and, unusually for a London eaterie, idippam noodles rather than rice.
- To read my full review for Good Things magazine, click here
- Masala Zone Covent Garden, 48 Floral Street, London WC2E 9DA. For more information, click here
No. 2: Breakfast & Revival Brunch at Chai Ki
If your can’t keep your Indian food cravings locked up til lunch, fear not: Chai Ki’s weekday breakfasts will sort you out. An injection of that latest wonderfood turmeric gives carrot smoothies and curry leaf scrambled eggs their glow of good health, whilst the Full Nashta Desi-fies a classic fry-up with the likes of aloo tikki hash and masala beans.
At the weekend, linger even longer over a big old Revival Brunch featuring Kerala-style winter duck ishtu and pillowy stacks of buttermilk chaas pancakes – all the better when washed down with with a round or two of beautifully fruity bellinis and Reincarnation Bloody Marys.
- Available until the end of February, breakfast 7-10.30am, Monday-Friday; Revival Brunch 10-4pm, Saturday-Sunday.
- Chai Ki, Crossrail Place, London E14 5AR. For more information, click here
No 3. Kite Lite cocktails at Talli Joe
Everybody knows that wetter is better, but if you’re doing Dry January, you should know that Talli Joe has come up with some good goods in the form of its Kite Lite detox drinks menu. Featuring a host of health-boosting Ayurvedic ingredients and inspired by Gujarat’s January Kite Festival, these are tipples to put a spring in your step whilst it’s still winter.
Although the state of Gujarat technically eschews alcohol as determinedly as a detoxer, holders of Liquor Permits are allowed to indulge. Accordingly, Talli Joe offers each Kite Lite creation in both Mock- and Cocktail versions – ensuring not only that there’s a way where there’s a will, but also that there’s one where there’s no willpower whatsoever.
ON THE MENU
Patang Turmeric, ginger &antioxidant green tea
Make it hard… Add turmeric-infused gin
Pech Amla (Indian gooseberry), tamarind & honey
Make it hard… Add tequila
Dheel Coriander, cucumber, honey water & Himalayan salt
Make it hard... Add vodka
Maanja Lemon juice, organic honey & activated charcoal
Make it hard… Add whiskey
Charkhi Cumin, mint, ginger, lemon & Himalayan salt, shaken with honey water
Make it hard… Add whiskey and soda
- Kite Lite mocktails, £4.50; cocktails £8.50. Talli Joe, 152-154 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8HL. For more information, click here
Paneer Monkey Fingers at MEATliquor
No, it’s not Indian, but the fabulous fast food joint deserves an honourable mention for offering a paneer-based, veggie-friendly January special. And for me, it’s a very special special indeed – not only do I adore India’s ‘cottage cheese’ in any way shape or form, but classic chicken monkey fingers played a vital role in cementing my and my other ‘arf’s relationship.
So what on earth are does this strangely-named creation consist of? Battered strips of paneer slathered in addictively-vinegary, house-made hot pepper sauce, served with blue cheese dip. Easy to eat, hard to beat; never, ever make the mistake of thinking a single portion will suffice.
- MEATliquor, various locations. For more information, click here
- To read about brunch, Indian style, click here
- To read about South Indian food, click here
- To read about Talli Joe’s ‘half plates and full drinks’, click here