Baingan bartha – smoky mashed aubergines

Baingan bartha (bharta?) is a dish I first had from Inder’s Kitchen. At least, I think it’s called baingan bartha, and Google vaguely corroborates that. Anyway, Inder’s is probably the best Indian food in Cambridge – their menu riffs on home cooking and regional authenticity. It’s not the parade of stumbling-out-of-the-pub curry house generics it’s so easy to associate with Indian food, and when they do put on a cliché/classic it tends to reflect a real respect for quality ingredients.

They’re also lovely people. And they’re lovely people who make a mean smoked aubergine mash.

Smoky aubergine mash
Baingan bartha – my attempt

I’ve been trying to replicate it for some time, with a variety of techniques, and just not nailed it. The simple explanation is that you really need a tandoor. I don’t have one, but I have managed to come up with a passable impersonation of Baingan bartha.

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Additional adventures in veganism

The very nastiest thing I can say about Rootmaster is that their website features some shocking copy, a prominent spurious apostrophe, and the line of CSS “text-decoration: blink”.That’s not really acceptable in a modern society.What the website doesn’t – at a casual glance, anyway – tell us is which of the series of peculiar coincidences started the process of turning an old London bus into a tiny but pleasing vegan restaurant. Which, for instance, did they have first – the idea for a vegan restaurant, the pun, the man with the awesome moustache? Did they, in fact, have the bus already? I suppose it doesn’t matter.

Rootmaster can be found somewhere near Brick Lane, and serves a small but interesting lunch menu (I’m told dinner is fancier and a little better) in pleasingly kooky surroundings. They’ve managed to overcome the risk of being a style-over-substance type of venture, too, and despite a slightly alarming ambient hipster density. If I were to offer an actually useful criticism, I’d point out that on an August afternoon, putting your diners in a metal box directly above the kitchen smacks slightly of having not quite thought things through. It wasn’t a big deal, and we could have sat outside. Continue reading Additional adventures in veganism

Adventures in veganism

Saturday was spiffy, if confusing. The highlight was undoubtably the Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart production of Waiting for Godot. Not far behind, however, was lunch at Saf.

There are a couple of warning signs on the menu. There were dishes annotated if they were heated over 48˚c, and a cocktail section entitled “Non-alcoholic elixirs”. That did make me a bit twitchy. But on the whole it’s free of the kind of tree-frotting, hemp-clad, wont-you-try-my-tofu-and-unicorn-farts-detox-chakra-quiche bullshit I was afraid of. Yes, I had a good meal at a vegan restaurant. Continue reading Adventures in veganism