A short walk from Ravenscourt Park Tube station, this Indian restaurant is at the end of a high street with far too many restaurants n close proximity to each other. But clearly Indian Zing seems to be favoured over the others as a few minutes after we strolled in there late on Monday evening it was heaving with hungry customers.
I was invited to review the Christmas Menu and seeing Pork sorpotel, Pork Vindaloo and a Turkey Jalfrezi on their Goan Christmas Menu, I couldn’t turn down a week day trip to a part of London that is not quite on my way back home from work.
We were greeted warmly by the maître d’ Rahul who got us a ‘welcome drink’ shortly after we were seated. This warming soupy broth of tomatoes, coriander and some other secret ingredients was just what we needed on a chilly evening.
While we selected our wine and starters, we were pleasantly surprised to have the owner-Chef Manoj Vasaikar stroll in for a chat. Like us he is a Maharashtrian from Mumbai and I guess one the reasons we immediately warmed up to him. Of course it is Chef Manoj’s down to earth demeanour that puts one at ease from the word go. The love for food and his passion to serve fresh food cooked using quality ingredients carefully sourced becomes evident as he shares the inspiration behind the new Goan Inspired menu and as we chatted away a small part of me seemed to drift away from the conversation to a pristine white sands beach in Goa.
The fact that we were seated in a restaurant which has beautiful Indian artefacts and carved wooden pillars (an extension of the influence of the Chef’s Indian background and love for things Indian) may also have had something to do giving me the feeling that I was in India not London on a cold, rainy winter evening.
First up came the starters :
- Goan vegetable cutlets (Almomdegas) – Exotic vegetable with Goan herbs and spices, pan seared. Served with red Goan chutney and baby cress
- Pork Sorpotel – A pork pickle mellowed with a distinct flavour of dried red Goan paste marinated in Palm vinegar. Served with sanna (a steamed rice cake).
- Sun Dried Shrimps and Fish Cutlets – Small shrimps, seasonal fish with fresh herbs and spices, root vegetable with semolina seared on hot pan. Served with roasted coconut chutney.
One bite into the shrimp and fish cutlet had me oohing and aahing and of course greedily craving for more 😉 While for hubster the Sorpotel hit the spot. The tangy pickle flavour combined with the fiery Goan paste is cleverly balanced by the palm vinegar while the steamed rice cake – Goa’s answer to bread, manages to cut through the spice really quite nicely.
I could happily have had lots more of the shrimp and fish cutlets and continued sipping on aromatic red which the maître d’ kindly picked out for me. Cabernet Sauvignon, Les Templiers, Vinde Pays a red wine from France with blackcurrant and blackberry flavours with ripe balanced tannins – perfect match with our starters.
While Chef Manoj left to go check on his guests at his other rrestaurant Rahul continued to fuss over us and we left it to him to bring us his favourite picks from Indian Zing’s Goan themed Christmas Menu.
By now the festive spirit had us in it’s grips and hubster and me happily reminisced about all things Mumbai, when was the last time we visited Goa and other such happy memories. I was in Std 5 when my parents took my sister and me to Goa for a long vacation and I still can never forget the meal of steamed rice and the fresh catch of the day we all shared at a cute little beach shanty. Of course time has a way of erasing bits and pieces from your memories, something like old photographs in family albums that begin to fade and fray at the edges but the essence of the moment always stays captured somewhere in that picture. That is why food like what we were about to eat brings with a rush of memories, familiar sights and sounds tumble out of old hidden chests in your memory bank…
When Rahul arrived with a huge tray with 4 mains, plain naan, steamed rice and brown rice pulav we couldn’t wait to get started.
I had to taste the Zing’s Turkey Jalfrezi with Caramelised Cranberry first though and it is a fabulous marriage of east meets west with perfectly cooked diced turkey which has been marinated in a rich spice mixture served in a thick gorgeous onion, pepper and tomato gravy sauce topped with scrumptious caramelised cranberries.
Hubster on the other hand dug into the Pork Vindaloo, a traditional Goan delicacy, heavily spiced and usually fiery, this dish to me is Goa on a Plate. A hand me down from the Portuguese influence on Goan food , Indian Zing’s interpretation results in a dish of melt in your mouth soft pork dish in a rich sauce of slow cooked spices which penetrate through the meat giving it an intense depth of flavour, almost like eating a juicy meat pickle. Mop this up with plain naan – makes a superb combination I say.
Seafood lovers that we both are, we were happy that Goan fish Ambottik was part of the selection of dishes we were sampling. Best consumed with plain boiled rice this fish gravy is seasoned with kokum which gives it fabulously tangy almost sour flavour and the spices give it that familiar coastal curry flavour but with a dash of Goan red chillies. Not for the faint hearted though this is a fiery one but a true Goan dish , do not hesitate to order this. I highly recommend washing this down with several glasses of Gamay, Duboeuf Vin de Pays a Red wine from France, a lively red with a full aromatic character of crushed fresh berries, which is slightly chilled to balance spicy food. ( I noticed that the wine menu had a Sauvignon Blanc from Sula Vineyards in Nashik from Maharashtra state in India and I almost immediately wanted to order us a bottle to take home but have decided to go back and savour this wine on a relaxed afternoon some day soon over a meal of fish curry and rice – ummm)
We ate spoonfuls of Caldinho de legumes in between greedy mouthfulls of the Ambottik and rice. A green herb curry with a gorgeous combination of vegetables and mushrooms smothered in cashew nut gravy this is flavoured with a virgin extract of coconut milk and topped with wafer thin roasted almonds. Absolutely delightful this is a fabulous accompaniment to most of the mains especially the Turkey Jalfrezi. Frankly we couldn’t get enough of this green veggie coconut goodness.
While we sat down quietly trying to get all that food down into our tummies, I was reminded of how every year my father used to bring a rich plum cake which we would hungrily devour after our big Christmas day dinner of home made biryani and lots of snacks and special fizzy drinks for all the kids in the family. And if we were lucky Baba would also give us Bebinca – a sweet flour multi-layered cake, which he always got back from his frequent trips to Goa (Indian Zings menu has Goan Bebinca though I was more inclined to sample the spiced pudding so we gave it a miss)
No Christmas menu is complete without a showstopping dessert and Indian Zing’s spiced exotic Christmas pudding with spicy brandy custard is the perfect ending to a festive feast. All we needed now was a warm bed and the day off work the next day … 😉
I only wish I was going back for more of Indian Zings Goan themed food especially would love some on Christmas day but I guess my friends and me will just have to make do with what hubster and I manage to make.
If you haven’t already called Indian Zing to book a table, then grab that phone and let Rahul book you in for a feast you won’t forget.
*With thanks to Humayun Hussain and Indian Zing for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review .All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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