"It's not much but it's ours"

Saturday, December 31, 2011


Murgh Makhani or Butter Chicken is a dish whose origins can be traced back to the middle of the 20th Century and a restaurant in Delhi named, The Moti Mahal.

The restaurant was, apparently, famous for its Tandoori chicken and the recipe developed as a way of using left over scraps of chicken which were cooked in a sauce made of cream, spices, tomatoes and, butter.

It is a cousin of the Chicken Tikka Masala, which some claim was an attempt by Bangladeshi cooks in British curry houses to recreate the Murgh Makhani.

Whatever the origins, the dish is one of the most delicious I have ever cooked and is definitely now a staple on menus for any Indian dinner parties I might throw.

Recipes vary, but I hope this one (and the accompanying pictures) might prove interesting enough for some of you try it and report back if you do.


8 Chicken Thighs (Boned, skinned and cut into 1in chunks)
2 tbsp Thick Yoghurt
1 Large White Onion (sliced)
Green Chili (deseeded & finely minced)
Ginger/Garlic Paste (Made by blending 2 in fresh ginger & 4 cloves
1 12oz Can Tomatoes
½ Cup Fresh Coriander Leaves
½ Cup Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Optional)
2 Cups of Chicken Stock
3 Tbsp Butter
¼ Cup Double (Heavy) Cream
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
3 Whole Cloves
3 Green Cardamom
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp GroundTurmeric
1 Tsp Ground Corriander
1 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon


Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and add the yoghurt, half the ground spices, 2 tablespoons of the ginger/garlic paste, and half the minced chili.

Mix well, cover the bowl in cling film and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours. You can leave overnight, but don’t add the yoghurt until two hours before you need it as it can make the chicken mushy.

While the chicken is marinating, add 2 tbspn of vegetable oil to a pan and toss in the whole spices.

When the spices begin to pop, add in the onion and cook until soft and golden.

Add in the remaining ginger/garlic paste and cook until it loses its raw smell.

Add in the remaining minced green chili and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add in the remaining ground spices and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add in the tomatoes, the chicken stock, half the fresh coriander leaves and the dried fenugreek leaves (if you are using them)

Simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes and then blend with a hand blender (I also like to pass my sauce through a sieve at this point. This is optional, but gives a much smoother finished sauce)

While the sauce is reducing, place the marinated chicken pieces on a wire rack on a baking sheet.

Grill them under a hot grill for 5 minutes each side (if you have a BBQ, they are even better cooked that way).

They should begin to develop a little char on the outside, which adds to the final flavor of the dish, although do be careful that they don’t burn.

Reserve the chicken pieces, making sure to capture all their juices.

Add 3 tbsp of butter to a hot pan and allow to melt.

Return the sauce to the pan and add the heavy cream (reserving a little bit for garnish)
Cook the sauce until reduced by half.

Add the chicken pieces to the pan along with any juices they have released.

Cook the sauce gently until the chicken pieces are warmed through and the sauce has reduced to a thick gravy.

When ready to serve, garnish with the remaining fresh coriander leaf, drizzle with the remaining cream and serve with boiled rice and Indian breads to sop up the sauce.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Dos Hermanos may not be exactly dead yet, but it’s certainly been coughing up blood lately.

HP seems to be eating all his meals in Chiswick these days, which is great for him, but wouldn’t make for fantastic reading. I, on the other hand, am all over the place and rarely get time to sit down to do the writing I am paid for let alone keeping you saps, suckers and ne’er do wells entertained with my Shavian musings.

So, here’s the deal. I shall continue to post when I can and, if you remain even vaguely interested, you can tune in every now and again to see what we are up too.

There won’t be many restaurant reviews anymore. As I said, HP will probably soon own a debenture at Hedone, and I don’t care enough about the Los Angeles dining scene to post a series of consistently expensive and mediocre meals just to keep the blog current.

What I can do is post about my trips (when time allows) and about the increasing amount of time I am spending in our little kitchen trying to improve my skills and test recipes for some book and TV ideas.

I can’t promise the recipes will be life changing, but hopefully they will be worth trying and worth eating. That is about all I gotsta put on the table at the moment. I hope it sounds fair enough?

Starting as I mean to go on in 2012, here’s a terrific recipe for that Northern Indian favourite, Kofta Curry. It’s a stunning dish of lamb meatballs cooked in a sauce of pureed onions, yoghurt and fresh ground spices.

It has already become a “must cook again” for my Mrs, which is high praise indeed. Let me know if you try it and if you feel the same way as she does if you do.



For the Kofta

1 ½ lb Ground Lamb Shoulder (I mince my own)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Coriander Powder
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Whole Egg
1 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs

To make the kofta, combine all the ingredients well. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for at least an hour. After they have chilled, form the meat into the size and shape of meatballs you prefer, cover again in cling film and place back in the fridge.

For The Sauce

1/2 Cup Cashew Nut Paste (made from soaking raw cashews in milk for 30mins and then blending with a little of the liquid to a fine paste)
1 Large White Onion (Pureed to a Paste)
Ginger/Garlic Paste (made from blending 2in fresh ginger with 4 big garlic cloves + a little water and salt)
2 Green Chilies (de seeded and finely minced)
1 12oz Can Tomatoes
2 Tbs Thick Yoghurt (whipped)
2 Tsp Garam Masala (I made mine from freshly toasted spices including bayleaf, fennel seed, cinnamon bark, black cardamom and clove)
½ Tsp each of Ground Turmeric, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Chili Powder and Salt

To make the sauce, heat up two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a deep sided frying pan.

Add all the ground spices (except the garam masala) and cook for three minutes making sure it does not burn.

Add the ginger/garlic paste and cook for a further three minutes.

Add the minced green chili and cook for a further three minutes.

Add the cashew nut paste, combine well and cook for a further three minutes.

Add the pureed onion and cook for five minutes.

Add the whipped yoghurt and the garam masala spices and cook for a further five minutes.

At this point, I like to blend my sauce with a hand blender and pass it through a sieve. This is optional, but I think it gives a much better end result.

While the sauce is cooking, remove the Kofta from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

If you blend the sauce, return it to the pan and add the Kofta. Cover the pan and cook on a gentle heat for fifteen minutes.

Uncover the pan, turn over the kofta and cook for a further fifteen minutes.

Reduce the sauce over a gentle heat until it reaches the desired consistency. I like mine to be a thick, dark, rich gravy. Be sure to turn the kofta every few minutes so they do not dry out.

Serve with plain boiled rice (or Indian breads) and more whipped yoghurt.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011


I am sure that everyone in London is now aware that Jose Pizarro’s new gaff in Bermondsey will stake a strong claim to be the best Spanish restaurant in London.  Two weeks ago, however, it looked a little unlikely that he would even be open on time to host what proved to be the most popular DINE WITH DOS HERMANOS to date.

It was David Strauss, the GM of the terrific Goodman steakhouses who actually first suggested the idea.  I was musing on Twitter about where and when to have the next event and London’s favourite restaurant munchkin replied “If you combined a #DWDH event with the opening of Jose Pizarro’s new restaurants, you would break all records”. 

It was a fabulous idea and, as soon as I read it, I shot off a mail to Jose asking him if he would be game to host the latest in our ever popular dining evenings.  He was up for the task and, no sooner had I posted about it on the blog/Facebook and Twitter did the requests for places begin to flood in.  In all, we had nearly a thousand requests for the coveted fifty seats and after making sure there were spaces for a few family and friends, I did what I have been forced to do for the last few occasions and drew names from of a hat.

A couple of days before the event, I was back in London with my missus, after a fun trip to Croatia and Hungary.  After a quick visit to Maltby Street Market, I suggested to her that we visit Pizarro just to make sure that everything was set for the big day.  It wasn’t.  There was no sign outside the restaurant and the inside looked like the East End after a particularly nasty visit from Jerry during the blitz.  Pizarro was there amongst all the dust and mayhem and, when he saw us walk through the door, his eyes widened like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. “It will be ready on time, Amigo, I promise you” he wailed as I trod carefully around the working builders shaking my head in dismay.

In all the years I have known him, Jose has never let me down and after much reassuranceI took him at his word that all would be shipshape for the Monday evening.  Mind you, as I walked towards the place about 45 minutes before everyone else was due to turn up, the fact that there was still builder’s paper covering the windows, did give me cause for concern. Inside, however, it was a different story.  It was certainly not finished, but it looked lovely and all the chefs and serving staff were busy preparing for what would be their very first time cooking for and serving customers.

It was not long before the guests arrived and, as soon as they handed over their precious tickets, each was handed a glass of Cava Gramona Brut imperial and given the chance to mingle with the other lucky punters. It was fantastic stuff and set the tone for one of the best DINE WITH DOS HERMANOS events yet.  Once we were seated, the courses began to arrive in earnest and, just as he had done at a similar event some three years ago at Casa Brindisa, Jose had gone far beyond what he had promised in terms of both food and drink. 

We began, of course, with large plates of Jamon, served this time with a glass of an uber rare “Dos Palmas” Sherry, from Gonzalez Byass.  This was followed by a salad of Cod, a breathtakingly good dish of duck livers and croquetas.  Fort he record, I have always believed that Jose makes the best croquetas in town and this offering did nothing to make me change my opinión.

The next two courses divided people’s opinions.  Not because they were not both spot on, but because they were arguing which was the best.  My vote went to some meltingly soft Hake cheeks while others at my table held out that braised Iberico pork cheeks were the winner.  Let’s just put it this way, if I was on a dessert island, I would alternate which I dreamt about.  I would also hope that they would be served with a glass of the crisp Rosado de Silos that Jose had managed to obtain for us.

Desserts of cheese and rich chocolate cake were supported by two more sherries; Amomtillado and Pedro Ximinez both from Fernando de Castilla and the tables were soon filled with empty glasses.  Plates however, were whisked away with incredible efficiency by the staff in training, which included coincidentally, my American niece in law who now calls London home.

Even if this event had not been the first time the ovens of Pizarro had been fired up or the first time the staff had worked the tables, it still would have been a memorable event.  The fact that it was means that it holds a particularly special place in the hearts of Dos Hermanos.  I want to give my own personal thanks to Jose, his team of superb chefs and excellent front of house and, of course, all those who provided food and wine to make this a DWDH event to cherish.

By 11pm, some four hours after we arrived, just about everyone agreed on two things.  The first was that Pizarro’s was soon going to become a hot ticket in London for those seeking the genuine Spanish article.  The second was that we would have to come up with something special if the next DINE WITH DOS HERMANOS was to top this one.

All I can say is, watch this space.  We got something special brewing.

PS: For those wondering why some of the pictures on this post are of a much higher quality than normal, there is a very good reason.  They are the work of one Thomas Bowles who does such things for a living and  whose work can be found at

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