Coriander as a herb is quite similar to marmite. People either love it or hate it and some even say that it is based on genetics too. So, I have to my thank parents yet again for making sure that I love coriander.
Why the preamble about coriander? Well, the latest restaurant I was invited to visit was called Coriander. I was grateful that Humayun Hussain, food consultant and future restaurant owner, got in touch about a trip here. After a few emails back and forth and date changes, Laura and I scheduled a visit in for a Wednesday night curry session.
Coriander based in Hatch End, north west London is a popular venue for locals and many, many more. Just recently, Coriander and its owner Salim, won restaurant of the year award at the UKBCCI awards - a UK Bangladeshi awards show. Some words below about Coriander, by Coriander:
"The founders of the Coriander bring over five decades of experience and passion in offering traditional menu classics, together with a subtle, contemporary twist.
Just as the Coriander name is inspired by the subtle embellishment the coriander leaf lends to classic cuisine, so too. Fine dining at the Coriander brings a connoisseur’s experience to all who visit."
We had open minds this evening and with such prestige and high praise awarded to Coriander we decided to let Salim choose what we would have. We only had one requirement, no shellfish, as Laura is now pregnant.
Salim, ordered for us Fish Tikka, Chicken tikka, Lamb chops and Shingara (spicy veg in pastry parcels). It sounded like a lot for starters but I couldn't say no as they all sounded amazing.
I was initially unsure about the fish tikka, as previous trials of fish dishes weren't that great. They usually are a bit bland and they have tended to be a bit watery too. This one thankfully was different. The fish was cooked like a tandoori chicken, which meant it was both smokey and had a good char. What was great too, was that the fish was still very tender and by no means watery. Nice, crisp and tasty fish and out of all four starters was the dish that Laura and I finished off. The plate was nice and clean.
The rest of the starters were a bit of the same ol', same ol'. They chicken tikka and lamb chops were both tasty, chicken more so as it was juicier. The lamb chops, were a bit tougher but the flavour of spices came through strongly to make this a go to dish, when I go back. The spicy veg enclosed in the parcels were more hot in terms of temperature rather than spiceness. Once it cooled down, it was a good package, but not that great. Probably, the least favourite of the starters for us.
A great way to start from Coriander and Salim. A lot of starters for two/three hungry people.
Laura and I have been here before. We had too much to start here and therefore could not manage a lot for the mains. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.We only went for two main courses along with a Portion of rice and two garlic naans between us.
Salim recommended we have the lamb shank and the chicken karahi. These are two contrasting dishes for me, the chicken is a dish I get quite frequently and the shank is a dish I love, but don't order much as previous attempts have not been that great.
The chicken karahi at Hatch End was cooked in a nice creamy sauce with mint and other herbs with a good range of spices and heat. It was an okay dish, tasty enough but it didn't blow me away. That tribute went to the lamb shank.
The lamb was as expected, fall off the bone tender. This was never in doubt and has been the case at other venues too. Where Coriander stepped up was the taste and flavour of the shank and the sauce which drenched the meat. The aromatic spices and use of herbs in this dish made it stand out. The thick tomato sauce was doused in such flavours too and made it part of the dish instead of an overpowering sauce. Great choice Salim; thank you for this early Christmas present.
The Coriander team stood up and delivered. Well done Hatch End with hosting the winner of the best restaurant of the year. A good friendly service was provided by the team who were very busy at the time too, due to many Christmas parties.
Hatch End with its raft of restaurants and people to feed is definitely home to a good curry house; this is essential to any British high street. Salim and the team are deserving of a great award earlier this year and this will be a restaurant which I will be back to. Thanks for the hospitality and the food Coriander. Have a great 2017.