Archive for November, 2010

New Year’s Eve Party

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Events

A couple of customers who wanted to have a New Year’s Eve  party at the cafe from 10p.m, 31.12. 10 till 4a.m 1.1.11 have had to cancel due to reasons. Meantime we   had turned away a few other interested groups prior to this cancellation because of this hire(which is now cancelled). Hence do contact us if you are interested to hire the cafe on that night for your New Year bash. You should ideally have around 100 persons who can attend and we will allow you to take door money to recover your hire charge and other expenses.

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Breakfasts On Weekends!

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Lifestyle

Since it is autumn/winter time now, we are doing full English breakfasts on weekends from 11a.m to warm  and fill you up. There are 3 choices: a full meat breakfast with bacon, sausages, eggs, toast, beans, mushrooms, even  fried apple rings!, or a vegeterian breakfast or a vegan breakfast( with vegan rashers). The breakfasts are priced at £5/person  to be affordable and your money’s worth. The curries are still on too,  daytime if you like an Indian curry to kick start your day with spices. Evenings are curries as usual though the curries etc keep changing so there are always new things for you to enjoy.

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Exhibition On

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Events

Right now the walls of Take 5 are plastered with a load of art work from Sam Miller, Rob and Matthew, local artists that we love to promote so they  have local spaces to display their work and channel their efforts. Do come in anytime for even a quick  view as its free.

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This Weekend (12/11/2010)

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Events

This weekend on friday (12/11/10) there is a party on at Take5 which is open to the public too for £4/person, 10-4a.m . I will post more details as I get them.

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Coming Surprises

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Lifestyle

Just before Christmas ,  we will be serving  very unique roast dinners for weekends  to make  this winter special for you. These include medieval roast of birds packed into one another and roasted with very traditional  spices used in medieval times(I  am still doing my research into these!). I  will keep prices as low as possible for these meals so they are affordable  as my interest is in sharing with you the pleasures of very unique exploratative cooking going beyond the usual stuff you find in restaurants and cookbooks and the internet. Food involves creativity, art, chemistry, romanticism  and imagination etc but  I  will go into these in more detail in the cookery section which  I  hope to slowly build up into a book for you.

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Our New Brochure

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Lifestyle

As of 18. 11.10, we are getting some very beautiful brochures of our cafe that we designed back from the printers. Please drop in and ask to be given some of them to be displayed at your work place if you like what we do and wish to support us.

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The Building Blocks of a good Indian curry

Nov 25 2010 Published by under Recipes

(I can sense a lot of nervousness sometimes in people,  when they are shopping to make an Indian curry or as they cook it. Questions such as  ‘what have I missed?’, or ‘am I on the right track?’.  Millions of recipes in books and on the internet tell us how, not  the   why of cooking. Here I will attempt to help you understand the basics  to boost your confidence.)

There are all sorts of curries as curry is a very loose word for the majority of sauces in which meat, vegetables or the both are served Asian style. These sauces vary in colour, consistency, taste and ingredients.  In Indian restaurants you read in the menu,  words such as jalfrezi, vindaloo,  dopiaza, tikka etc or in South-east Asian restaurants words such as sambal manis, sambal tumis etc. These are all different sorts of curries or rather, originate from one  curry,  and then get tweaked to achieve a certain taste, thickness or colour etc.

Basically there are 5 ingredients that are usually at the root of a curry. These are onions, garlic, ginger, chillies and tomatoes. They provide the bulk or base to which are added other things such as spices, herbs , fluids, etc. As a rule of thumb you use around 3-4 onions, a few cloves of garlic, an inch or two of ginger and a couple of chillies. You blend these together, fry them gently in oil then add in the tomatoes and then the spices, and then go along adding spices, meat , vegetables etc as it cooks and simmers.(Hare krshna followers use asafoetida, a substitute for onion and omit garlic.)

All sorts of variations branch out from this basic five ingredients. For example, tomatoes are omitted and replaced by mango or pomegranate powder if one needs a very dry sauce e.g just to coat vegetables or stuff them. A  sambal on the other hand  is a basic south east Asian and Southern Indian sauce,  cooked by omitting the ginger, and usually even without spices. It is amazing when you taste a sambal to know that it comprises of only  blended onions, a few curry leaves,  red chillies,  and garlic cooked gently with a tomato and some thick coconut milk.

In any curry,  tomatoes can be replaced by apples or plums for a fruitier taste.  Coconut milk,  milk or double cream are added for a creamy consistency. Grated beetroot brings redness to a curry, turmeric and chili powder combined bring a fresh dark orange colour, and spinach , spring greens and fresh coriander bring greeness. Red onions make curries more darker too. In a jalfrezi , peppers are added for that peppery taste, whilst more chillies  are added to a vindaloo.

Globalisation and modern day shopping brings so many more ingredients from around the world to us, and helps us explore better and stretch our creativity and imagination during cooking to achieve more fusion food .For example, Singaporean noodles involve a fusion of Indian and Chinese cooking ingredients such as turmeric, soya sauce, sesame oil, chilli powder etc.

Back to our curry, once you have created a lovely sauce by frying gently a blend of onions, garlic , chillies and ginger, you then make it more fluid by adding freshly chopped or canned tomatoes, even some yoghurt if desired, and then a small array of spices for taste and colour. These include a sprinkling of turmeric, chilli powder, cinnamon powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, star anise and even crushed cardamons and a few cloves.You can even dry roast or fry a few of these whole in the wok before you start frying the onion mix.

You then allow this mixture to  simmer gently till oil bubbles arise and begin to float. This is a sign that the onions etc and spices are cooked and ready for the vegetables and meat to be added. These are then cooked with  some water or fluids such as coconut milk. Leave the lid off if it is looking too runny  or add more liquid if it is too thick and lower the fire if its touching the bottom of the pan.

Traditionally, North Indians love to add a sprinkling of dry fenugreek leaves to this bubbling mixture and South Indians  sprinkle curry leaves. Both are aromatic. In vegeterian, fish, egg,  or prawn curries,  you can also add a teaspoon of yellow, or black (or both!) mustard seeds.  Asians love adding few whole fenugreek seeds too,  at the beginning of cooking,  and a tiny amount of mustard oil for added flavour. Towards the end you may want to add a sprinkling of garam masala as well.  Once a  curry is cooked, a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves  and maybe a  squeeze of lime,  as well as a knob of butter all helps towards a better taste. This should help you see why curry recipes differ one from the other and understand the basics that are involved.

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How My Mom Made Chicken Curry

Nov 15 2010 Published by under Recipes


(This is a secret I am going to share with you. My mother was born in Amritsar, a Sikh holy town/city in north India,  married my dad and somewhere between the 2 World Wars they migrated to South East Asia. She had 8 kids, besides all her friends and neighbours and she was a prolific intelligent cook with a gifted intuition for cooking. Those days we did not have blenders and being her blue eyed boy, I  was her chosen child for spending plenty of time squatting on the floor or on a stool and using a large pestle and mortar to crush and blend. I derived great inspiration in seeing my mother getting happier by the minute as she saw large amounts of raw fresh indian masala coming together as I pounded and pounded for her till everything got crushed very smoothly but still a tiny bit coarse for crunchiness which modern blenders can fail to do sometimes. Those days we had chicken curry only on Sundays as a treat, and hence a lot of effort was put into making it so very tasty. I  share this recipe with you here, and I use it very regularly as part of the cafe’s Chicken Tikka Masala recipe I will share too soon).


Red onions, fresh ginger, garlic, red and green chillies, fresh plum tomatoes, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, dried red chillies, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, star anise, cardamons, cinamon bark, red chilli powder, fresh coriander, spring onions, cloves, and preferably 1.5-2 kg of chicken quarters which you can buy fresh or defrost from frozen (chicken quarters are a mixture of parts of a chicken i.e thighs, legs, breast, drumsticks etc on the bone and skin that you buy from butchers or supermarkets), a can of coconut milk.


1)Blend together 3 red onions, 2-4” inch of fresh ginger, a bulb of garlic and 5 red chillies with very little water. Also blend coursely and keep aside a tablespoon each of coriander and cumin seeds and 4 dried red chillies. Wash the chicken and keep it aside too. Chop 2 red onions into rings, fry them in a wok and keep aside.

2)In your main wok or cooking pan, add half a small teacup of cooking oil and warm that gently. To that add the following- a tablespoon of cumin seeds, 20 curry leaves, 5 dried red chillies, 4 inches of cinnamon bark, 10 fenugreek seeds,  4 star anise, 8 cardamons crushed, and 10 cloves. As these spices sizzle within 1-2 minutes, add the blended mixture of onions etc. Let this heat up and  stir lovingly  for about 5-10 minutes till you see the mixture turning golden brown and deeper red and oil bubbles start surfacing. Now add the blend of crushed cumin, coriander and dry chilies, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, and 3  finely chopped  big juicy plum tomatoes. Stir this for 5-10 minutes and add salt too.

3)Once oil bubbles start surfacing, it means the tomatoes and spices are cooked,  so now add in all the chicken, stir, then let it bubble, as you stir intermittently. After 5 minutes, add the coconut milk and uncut or half sliced lengthway  green chillies and keep stirring till it starts to bubble. Now leave it to simmer on low heat. If you curry is looking thin/watery, do not cover as you simmer. Only cover once it looks thick.

4)After 10 minutes, take out a piece, slice it and inspect whether it is cooked. Do this till it looks cooked. Now add  freshly chopped coriander and spring onions, stir and cover for 4 minutes. Serve with fresh rice, breads, chutney and pickles and even some chopped raw onion and fresh green chillies.

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