Food & Drink

Eat out, drink up


Among vegetarians who know London. the Rasa mini-chain of restaurants is renowned. But cooks of various stripes have paid obeisance as well. No less than the Naked Chef Jamie Oliver has Sung its praises. In a recent issue of Marie Claire magazine. he wrote that its ‘light. fresh style of South Indian cooking has transformed my opinion of Indian food.‘ Rasa's influence can be seen locally in Glasgow at the recently opened Kook's cafe where head cook Simi Donald's Kerala chicken is a variation on an original Rasa recipe. This book features pages of inspirational concoctions from Kerala. the birthplace of Rasa's founder and The New Tastes of India's author: Das Sreedharan. Many of us might associate Indian cooking with a hopeless variety of spices as well as some laborious skill to bring them into harmony on the plate. However. according to Oliver (who wrote the book's foreword). with Kerala cuisine “the simplicity of the dishes and the ease with which you can cook them is shocking and they are perfect to make at home'. Certainly. the stir-fried thorans seem pretty straightfon/vard and are probably unlike any Indian cooking you're likely to have seen outside India. The key flavouring agents are Curry leaves. mustard seeds. chillies and turmeric. The main ingredient can be anything from papaya to plantains. cabbage to okra [see recipe below]. ‘When I opened Rasa. Londoners were not familiar with thorans.‘

Sreedharan writes. ‘For them it was a big change from the traditional onion bhaji and bombay aloo culture that had prevailed. and many now rate thorans amongst their favourite

Indian dishes.‘ (Barry Shelby)


(serves four)

200g okra

5 tablespoons oil

1.5 tablespoons mustard seed 10 Curry leaves


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2 dried red chillies

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1 onion. finely chopped 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

509 freshly grated or desiccated coconut I The New Tastes of India. Head/me Book Publishing. 2 7 7.99. salt Cut the okra into 1cm pieces. Heat oil in large pan and add

mustard seeds. When they start to pop. add the curry leaves and chillies. then the onion. Cook. stirring. for five minutes until the onion softens. Stir in turmeric and add a little salt and stir- fry for two minutes. Add the okra and cook for another three to four minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the coconut. Mix well and serve hot.

While the city of Edinburgh appears to be taking a dim view of venues that have both bar and restaurant under one roof and desire god forbid to stay open late as well, Glasgow's latest overnight operation has opened in the city centre.

The Lane Bar and 24-Hour Restaurant is nestled between Wellington and Hope Streets in Sauchiehall Lane. At some cost to its NOrthern Pubs owners (with assistance from Glasgow City Centre Partnership). this once grubby vennel has been re-cobbled and illuminated. while the once ubiquitous rubbish bins have been removed - or at least hidden.

Upstairs. The Lane is divided between a lounge and dining room with space for about 80 covers. The Quinn and McMahon design has made the most of existing masonry. exposed rafters and even some glazed wall tiles in the one- time check depository of Clydesdale Bank. An interesting new feature. however. is the glass-brick partition

between the bathroom sinks and diners. On the ground floor. the bar/cafe is about half the size. with French doors which open on to the lane.

Food is served round the clock. with separate lunch. dinner. late-night and bar menus. The afternoon special of £5.50 for one course with wine or coffee (from noon to 7pm) includes dishes such as sauteed chicken au poivre and tagliatelle carbonara. Mains on the a la carte evening menu range in price from 527—210. The bar's daily 3—8pm happy hour offers wine by the glass. shorts and dash as well as pints of Miller for £1.60. and pre-club DJs are booked at the weekend.

While the bar closes at midnight. the upstairs restaurant is licensed to serve drink until 1am (as long as food is Ordered) and by October The Lane expects to have this table license extended until 2am. (Barry Shelby)

I The Lane. 57—59 Sauchiehall Lane. Glasgow. 0741 332 8899.


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THERE IS NO MOJO RISING on Bath Street Glasgow. After some serious renovation work, John Quigley is opening his new eponymous restaurant in the old Christie’s showroom while the basement space that once held Mojo has not only expanded seemingly exponentially but also been re-christened Lowdown.

Quigley has devised the menus for both spaces; upstairs you’ll find his brand of brasserie-style dining using fresh local ingredients and, in the bar below, an array of quality pub food from global tapas to burgers. Zoo Architects contributed to the design, which includes a sunken lounge in Lowdown. The gigantic bar converts to a club Thursday to Saturday (charging admission after 11 pm).

WHISKY LOVERS MIGHT PUT Victoria Street. Edinburgh. on their agenda. Scottish Gourmet Foods (28 Victoria Street. 0131 226 2327) now stocks an admirable range of limited-edition single malts. Several are single cask (meaning a bottling run of about only 250) and also from now-defunct distilleries. such as Scapa in Orkney and lnverness's Millburn Distillery now. alas. a Beefeater restaurant. While single cask varieties are not aged as long as you might expect. they do tend to have a higher than average proof.

Scottish Gourmet Foods is sister shop to Oban's Kitchen Garden and has a range of Scottish and continental fancy foods and dry goods. as well as a range of country wines.

EVERYBODY’S FAVOURITE roadside diner is trying to capture young ‘uns before they know any better. Yes, Little Chef is pushing a ‘poptastic promotion’ until the end of September in conjunction with Smash! Hits magazine. Westlife, Five, Dane Bowers - and other talent presumably to match the quality of cooking - are featured and kids can collect free limited edition CDs with every Fun Meal purchased. If that’s not enough, menus which double as fold-out posters of the well-scrubbed pop stars are available as well.