I've got a great recipe to share today! It's Nepalese and is called Salmon Ajwain and is basically marinated salmon on a skewer, barbecued in a clay oven. It's divine! The recipe is from the menu of the Yak and Yeti restaurant in Eltham.
300 gr salmon
2 cloves garlic - crushed and chopped
1 cm piece ginger - finely grated
a pinch of carom seeds
2 tbsp Greek-style yogurt (5% fat)
couple of drops of lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh dill - finely chopped
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade. Cut the salmon to chunks and carefully coat in the marinade. Leave in the fridge for 2 hours (or at least 1 hour, the more the better).
Carefully arrange the salmon chunks on skewer and place n a clay oven for 8-10 minutes.
An alternative to a clay oven could be a grill oven.
Simple as that and amazingly delicious!
And let me tell you how I learned this recipe!
But this one caught my attention. I did not believe somebody would call its restaurant with a word quite similar to "Yuk!" in English.
I was so shocked, I just opened twitter and wrote how unfortunate that name of a food business sounded to me.
For my bigger surprise, some time later the guys from Yak and Yeti replied to my tweet, pointing out their restaurant is quite renowned and highly rated.
I then realised my joke on twitter might have been offending, so I removed it, but them I was intrigued. I started asking questions about the restaurant and the food and so got an invitation to visit the restaurant's branch in Eltham to try the food myself and chat with the manager and the chef.
And I am very happy I went! I was happy to find out only Yum Yum Yum and no "yuk" at all about this place! It was a great experience with tasty freshly prepared food, very friendly and welcoming staff and a nice atmosphere in a English heritage building.
When somebody says Indian cuisine I would most certainly think of a large variety of curries. However, the food I had was far from that - mostly barbecued meat/fish cooked in a clay oven with tasty vegetables.
The food is freshly prepared from scratch - vegetables, herbs, meat and fish, some of them in tandoori oven. Can it sound more healthy than that? On top of that every single dish I tried was delicious, bursting with taste, but in the same time well balanced - nothing overpowering or extremely spicy.
Although the restaurant specialises in Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian cuisine, most of the dishes are fusion-style, manager Amrit told me.
The head chef Devendra and manager Amrit let me peek into the kitchen and film how the tasty food was prepared, and then we had a feast of the most signature dishes in the restaurant, namely:
1. Salmon Ajwain - this recipe was amazing! And I am very grateful to the restaurant they agreed to share it with us!
2. Lamb chops tandoori - was very delicious way to cook lamb
3. Seabas served with jeera aloo, asparagus and chef's special brandy sauce
4. Hariyali tikka (chicken marinated in garlic, ginger and fresh mint - extremely succulent and tasty)
5. Lamb Seekh kabab - (You can never go wrong mixing lamb mince with fresh herbs - the result is a succulent and tasty dish)
6. Thimi vegetables with paneer - I should say this was the first time I actually liked paneer - it had nice texture and a flavour - something that usually lacks. The cooking method was to first fry it at very high temperature for 3-4 minutes and then steamed.
7. Freshly baked garlic naan (YUM!)
You can see the video here:
The name of the restaurant which puzzled me the most comes after a five-star hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal, quite symbolic for the city, although the two businesses don't have anything in common. Still The restaurant specialises in Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan cuisine and the owners, managers and chefs are from Nepal.
On the other hand, Yak is the name of a hairy bovine animal mainly residing in the Himalayan region. While Yeti is a mythical creature thought to inhabit the regions of Tibet and Nepal.
The restaurant actually holds only a small number of Tibetan dishes on the menu and most of them are Nepalese. And the difference between Nepalese and Indian cuisine is in the spices used.
A signature spice for the cuisine is the use of carom seeds (also known as ajowan, ajwain), Amrit tells me, which goes very well with sea food, but is quite strong and does not go well with everything as it would easily dominate the taste.
It turns out Nepalese cuisine is quite popular in Britain as there are some 400 Nepalese restaurants throughout the UK, and a large umber of them are concentrated in South East London, the restaurant manager Amrit is telling me. Most of the restaurant customers are British and a very tiny part of them come from the region.
Chef Devendra has 15 years experience in restaurants all over the world, including Singapore, Thailand and the Michelin-starred restaurant Benares in London.
The company that started the restaurants opened its first in Cristal Palace three years ago and now has 4 restaurants in SE London, including the recently opened branch in Bromley. All restaurants operate in a dine in or take away basis. The one in Eltham is the company's largest restaurant with some 150 places and is located in an English Heritage historical building with unique atmosphere - The Greyhound Public House.
Yak and Yeti is constantly top rated on the Toptable website and offers exciting discounts through it, so do check it.
If you're happening to live in Eltham and South East London in general, don't hesitate to give it a go, you won't be disappointed!
The address of the Eltham branch - which is the company's largest restaurant - is 86 Eltham High Street, Eltham, SE9 1BW
Many thanks to my friendly and hardworking hosts!