Two new exciting eateries have opened in Cork in recent months; both are off the beaten track.
I’ve been hearing about Iyers on Popes Quay for several months and at last I managed to pop in. It’s a tiny little restaurant serving South Indian street food. It’s chic, tiny, just five tables and a counter with a large blackboard menu on the wall behind. I love South Indian food and there it was, samosas, dosas, uthappam, Madras thali, mango lassi, chai…
The owner Gautham Iyer comes from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and his wife Caroline hails from Sligo, he’s an aeronautical engineer and she’s a jeweller. They’ve lived in Cork for 14 years and have at last achieved their dream to open a little restaurant serving the sort of Indian food they and their friends love to eat and have been craving. They opened on 17th January 2013 and the word spread fast, they were often sold out before they closed at 5:30pm. They now stay open on Thursdays until 9pm. However you and a group of friends can book a table of eight or ten on another night by arrangement. The food is simple, delicious and tastes authentic. On a recent visit they also had a couple of tempting cakes, the Pistachio and Rosewater cake had sold out so we enjoyed a slice of freshly made Mango, Banana and Coconut Cake and a Cashew and Coconut Cookie that had the bonus of being gluten free. Iyers is a vegetarian restaurant and Gautham cooks in the Ayurvedic tradition.
Don’t miss their chai, when I closed my eyes I was sipping the spicy brew in a roadside dhaba in India – Iyers is definitely worth seeking out, they don’t take bookings and by the way it is stunningly good value for money.
Ramen on Angelsea Street is owned by John Downey a Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate, who was a retail manager for Aldi in his last life. He now serves new Asian Street food in a contemporary setting. The open kitchen at the end of the room has five or six bustling Asian chefs in bright orange T shirts. Rustling up the yummy food is head chef Zuul Basir from Kuala Lumpur.
It’s all very convivial, there’s a long timber sharing table down the centre of the restaurant as well as side tables along the wall. The menu is divided into Soups, Salads and Nibbles, and Something for Kids. Dishes from the Wok, Rice dishes, Noodle dishes and there’s strictly no MSG.
Chop sticks, soy sauce and chilli oil are on the table, customers order and pay first. Your choice of dishes arrives on a little metal tray; there will be an empty ice cream cornet for your complimentary whipped ice cream. If the generous helpings defeat you, take home the remainder.
Again it seemed to me to be exceedingly good value for money – tasty delicious food, the word is out so you may have to queue at peak times but the general consensus is that it’s well worth the wait.
Gautham Iyer’s Spicy Potato Curry (Urulaikizhangu Kari)
500g – ½ kg (18oz) potato (waxy new potatoes are better)
1 1/2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon gram flour/ rice flour
salt – to taste
for the seasoning you will need
2 teaspoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
a very small pinch asafoetida / hing
225ml (8fl oz) water
1 teaspoon urid dhal (optional)
small sprig fresh curry leaves
Peel and chop the potato (into small cubes) and leave soaking in a bowl of water.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to splutter add the urid dhal (if using) and curry leaves and fry till the dhal turns golden brown.
Add the asafoetida and turmeric followed immediately by the drained potatoes. Stir for a few seconds.
Add 225ml (8fl oz) of water and then add the salt and red chilli powder and let the potatoes cook completely. If necessary add a bit more water.
Once the potatoes are cooked, reduce the flame and add 1/2 teaspoon oil and stir the potatoes to fry them.
Sprinkle the gram flour/rice flour to help the potatoes brown evenly.
Transfer to serving dish and serve hot with rice or bread of your choice.
Niloufer’s Cauliflower and Chickpeas
Serves 4 – 6
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter, or canola oil
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
12 oz cooked chickpeas (or 6oz dried – soaked overnight and cooked)
1 head cauliflower, broken in florets
large handful fresh ciltrano (coriander) leaves and stems chopped
juice of 1 lime
Heat the ghee in a large skillet over a medium heat and toast the fennel seeds for about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking, until brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and a big pinch of salt to the skillet and cook, dribbling in a little water as you stir. Add the chickpeas, cauliflower and ½ cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower and ½ cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, 15 – 20 minutes. Add the chopped ciltrano (coriander) and lime juice and serve with yoghurt and rice or big floppy flat bread chapatis, if you like.
Mekong Duck – Ramen Style
John Downey from Ramen Restaurant in Cork city kindly shared this recipe with us. It’s a firm favourite with his customers.
2 duck Breasts
2 teaspoon garlic, chopped as finely as possible.
2 teaspoons fresh root ginger, minced.
1 tablespoon tomato purée
50mls (2fl oz) pineapple juice
50mls (2fl oz) orange juice
2 teaspoons soya sauce
2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon five spice
cherry tomatoes (halved)
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/320°F/Mark 3
Delicately score the fat on the duck breast and roast for 25 minutes. While this is roasting, create your Mekong sauce, by mixing all of the ingredients together with a hand blender. Prepare all of your vegetables and set aside for cooking. Slice the roasted duck breast into bite-size slivers.
Once the duck is cooked (it should still be slightly pink), heat your wok as hot as you possibly can. Add a splash of rapeseed oil, sauté the garlic, add the ginger, the Mekong sauce and the duck and cook on a high heat for 1 minute, until you achieve peak temperature. Add the vegetables; toss for thirty seconds and voila!
Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
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Calso Cooks – Real Food Made Easy– Watch out for the new kid on the Irish food scene, Paul O’Callaghan aka Calso. He came late to the discovery that real food can be produced with very little effort and be tastier and healthier than the fast, convenient foods he’d survived on ’til then. Paul had his own plastering business in his native Armagh but when the recession hit, he lost everything. At first, he struggled with depression and feelings of helplessness but by a quirk of fate, the house he rented had some land attached so he decided to try growing some of his own food. He was soon hooked on cooking (and eating!) the ingredients he produced. In 2001 he started his blog Calso Cooks from the Sustainable Larder. Paul now runs his own food business, has a column in ‘EasyFood’ magazine and contributes to the Breakfast Show on 2fm. Look out for his first cook book Calso Cooks – Real Food Made Easy published in paperback by Mercier Press.
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