Posts Tagged: gluten free

Jun 15

Ballyvolane House

Ballyvolane House

I pulled into the long driveway leading up to Ballyvolane House with a great sense of anticipation. In terms of places to stay in Ireland, this is one of the most unique jewels in Ireland’s crown, and I was so excited to experience it for myself.

Ballyvolane House is, in fact, a private home, situated in rural north County Cork, an historic, characterful and exquisitely decorated family home that has been opened up in recent years to offer quite unique luxury accommodation and some excellent Irish food.

This is a grand, yet comfortable and relaxed country house, offering six guest bedrooms – all decorated in their own unique style and with impeccable taste – and a selection of yurts in the gardens as par of their glamping offering. Everything at Ballyvolane screams good taste and luxury – as you might expect with the pedigree of the family who own and run the operation. Justin and Jenny Green are hosts with experience of running some of the world’s most-loved establishments, including the Jumeirah in Dubai, Babington House in Somerset.

The main house offers a cosy drawing room for guests to enjoy, which looks out over the gardens. I loved that it is packed full of interesting books and a wide selection of up-to-date magazines – in fact, I could have sat here all day and just read. There is an open fire, afternoon tea served in here, and an honesty bar just outside, where you can help yourself to a wide selection of spirits, including brand-new Bertha’s Revenge, which is Justin’s new homemade whey alcohol-based gin, which has been lovingly developed in the copper stills at the House.

Dinner is served every night in the dining room at 8pm. It is served family style on a large table, where guests all sit and dine together. It was a lovely experience, and even with the other guests on my table being German speakers, we had an extremely pleasant evening. The food at Ballyvolane is simple, delicious home cooking with a modern twist, and all made using superb quality local ingredients, including produce from the gardens and farm at Ballyvolane. The menu changes every night, and guests are asked if they have any food intolerances when they arrive. Guests can take a drink in the drawing room beforehand and take a look at the menu. To start, we were served with a lovely seasonal soup, alongside fabulously thick slices of home cured salmon and a scrumptious St Tola’s goats cheese salad, made with garden lettuce, strips of roasted red pepper, beetroot and toasted pine nuts, which was wonderful. The main course was a very traditional, but beautifully cooked loin of bacon, served with mashed potatoes, parsley sauce and carrots, with a rhubarb crumble and cheese to follow, then coffee in the drawing room. There is an excellent selection of carefully chosen wines on offer, with a couple of red and white options by the glass.

Breakfast is also taken in the dining room. The choice is wonderful, and as you’d expect, only the best local produce is used. I chose the superb cooked breakfast – I only went for a small version of the popular ‘Full Monty’ – and it was excellent, again made using the tastiest and most local ingredients.

There is so much to see and experience at Ballyvolane; walks down to the lake, up to the woods to see the bluebells, across to the walled garden to see the produce used in the kitchen and over to see the donkeys in the fields. The gardens were bursting with colourful flowers when I visited, and of course, there are the outbuildings that have been so lovingly converted into a dreamy wedding venue.

Every aspect of Ballyvolane House has been created with care, attention to detail, comfort and understated luxury, and it is a truly unique experience to be looked after by the owners and a small team of superb staff. It says a lot that on arrival, I just sat in my room for three hours, looking out over the garden, listening to the birds singing and reading some of the excellent books in the room. I haven’t done that in so long, and it’s such a rare thing to be in a place where one can truly switch off.

Ballyvolane House exceeded my expectations. And I can’t wait to go back.


Thank you to Ballyvolane House for inviting me to visit.

Dec 14

Last-minute Christmas baking

With just a few days to go until Christmas, here are my favourite last-minute recipes for Christmas cake and mince pies. Both can be made and adapted to a gluten free diet. Although we are bombarded with sweet treats at this time of year, I always think it’s worth making the time to get out some nice china, proper napkins and sit down properly with a steaming hot cup of tea to savour the most delicious treats of the season. Both photos feature my own Christmas baking styled with my favourite china, by Sophie Conran, fabrics by Sophie Allport and Cath Kidston and Robert Welch cutlery.

First, is my last-minute Christmas cake, which is extremely easy to make and requires no maturing.


Last minute Christmas cake

Makes 1 x 20cm/8” cake which serves 16-20


For overnight soaking:

300g dried fruit – I always use sultanas, not raisins

100g candied peel, chopped – I use homemade – a mixture of half blood orange, half lemon

400g jar excellent quality mincemeat

150ml brandy

For the cake:

150g butter

150g dark brown muscovado sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp salt

1 ½ tsp mixed spice (ensure it contains cinnamon, not cassia)

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

225g self raising flour, sifted (or use 200g gluten free self raising flour or 225g ground almonds)

3 tsp baking powder


Start by soaking the fruit overnight. You can get away with around 4 hours soaking, but overnight is best if you possibly can. Place all the ingredients together into a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Cover with cling film and leave.

The next day, line your cake tin well using non-stick greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 150C Fan/170C/Gas Mark 3.

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together well. Add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. The mixture will be quite runny at this stage. If you have one, it’s a good idea to use a stand mixer or electric beaters here to ensure the mixture is beaten even more thoroughly than you can manage by hand.

Add the salt, spices, orange and lemon zest and the soaked fruit, including all the liquid. Beat together well. Finally, add the sifted flour and baking powder and fold in gently until evenly combined.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and neatly level off. Bake, uncovered for 90 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s cooked. It may need another 15-30 minutes covered to cook through if your oven is a little slow. Covering the cake in foil will stop it from browning too much.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Remove the paper and allow to cool fully before wrapping and storing or decorating.

In theory, this cake can be eaten same day – it needs no maturing or feeding before being ready to enjoy.


Now, on to mince pies. I wanted to share my favourite recipes for mince pies with you – both for traditional pies and also for my gluten free version. Both are delicious.

Shortcrust Pastry 


200g flour

110g butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt

3-4 tablespoons cold water


Place the flour and butter into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine sand. Add the egg yolk and salt, and2 tablespoons of water. Blitz again until it forms a stiff, firm mixture. Add the remaining water as needed – remember that too much water will make the pastry too sticky.

Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes or better still 30 minutes.

Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry


275g plain flour (I use Doves Farm blend)

150g chilled butter

1 large egg and 1 egg yolk

Pinch of salt


Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Bring the mixture together into a ball. Flatten and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes

Both recipes make around 12 pies. You’ll need a 12 hole shallow bun tin and a couple of appropriately sized cutters.

You’ll also need one beaten egg as your egg wash.

To make the pies…

Once the pastry is made and chilled, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/ Gas Mark 4

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper. It needs to be about 3-4 mm thick, no more. It will puff up during the cooking process. The gluten free pastry will be more sticky to work with, Don’t worry, this is normal.

Cut out discs to form the base of your pies and carefully put into the tins. Add a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pastry base. Either brush the rim of the pastry base with beaten egg and add a disc to firm a lid, or alternatively place a cut out shape on top of the mincemeat. Egg wash your top or pastry shape and bake for around 18-22 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned and firm.

Remove to cool on a wire tray, although they are delicious eaten warm.

Dec 14

An easy, delicious Christmas


At this time of year, I’m always looking for ways to make life easier. One of my fail-safe ways to save time at Christmas and to introduce a little joy into food shopping, is to do it online.

I’m always looking to track down the best ingredients I can get my hands on, so I bring you my top picks for Christmas food shopping online. Best of all, they’re all independent and are sending out top quality food at very fair prices.

I’ll start with meat, and turkey, first of all. Roaming Roosters have a farm shop in Pendle, Lancashire and offer an online delivery service. They sell whole, stuffed and turkey crowns online with home delivery. All their meat is sustainably sourced and free range and really delicious. They have some lovely products available and their turkeys are outstandingly good.

For pork and beef, the best in the business is, in my opinion by far, Peter Hannan, based in Northern Ireland. He supplies a whole host of top restaurants all over the UK and his beef and pork products are particularly outstanding. He even ages his beef in a Himalayan salt chamber installed in his Moira-based butchery in pursuit of perfection. His sweet cure bacon ribs are to die for, too.

Forget the supermarket chains for general groceries and try The Cornish Food Box Company. They put together a range of grocery boxes using superbly sourced, high integrity produce from people they know and trust down in Cornwall. They deliver nationwide. They’ll deliver all the essentials, including local low-GI bread, milk, yoghurt, sausages, you name it. This is exceptional quality farm-shop fare without the hassle of sourcing it and is excellent value for money, too. Boxes are flexible and adaptable, meaning you get what you want delivered.

And for all your Christmas vegetables and fruit, you can’t beat a Riverford box. Their delivery service is easy and reliable and their produce is consistently excellent. They’re passionate about seasonal Organic food and you can taste the difference in their boxes. If you don’t like anything you can request substitutions, and there’s always something interesting to try.

Dec 14

Dreaming in the skies

Flying long haul is not always an appealing prospect. Especially if you have food intolerances to consider. With six, eight, twelve hours or longer in the sky to consider and not being able to take your own food or drink is not always a prospect to relish. I recently flew long haul with Royal Brunei on one of their new fleet of Boeing Dreamliners and the experience was so good, I wanted to share it with you.

Royal Brunei really impressed with their knowledge of food intolerances and how they dealt with it. It’s always important to book your special meal in advance so that you know you’ll have something you can eat. But what really impressed with Royal Brunei was how they came to find us on board and confirm our requirements, and then to offer a selection of things suitable to eat on board, so that we could choose something we liked. This level of care and attention is something I haven’t experienced on board a plane before. In fact, the level of service at Royal Brunei is exceptionally high. The staff were all so nice and nothing was too much trouble. The experience stands out even more after our last experience flying long haul with BA, who put a KitKat (containing wheat) in our gluten free meal. The service with Royal Brunei could not have been more different.

In fact, the overall experience was so good, we were actually keen to get on the plane and settle in on the way home, as we knew what was in store. The RB fleet is bang up to date and immaculately clean, offering all the amenities you expect and more on board. There is plenty of space – seats are spacious and the electronic flat beds in Business were so roomy, my 6’3” travelling companion could lie out flat to sleep – which is quite a resounding success in his book and demonstrates significantly more space than competitors offer. The Dreamliners are set up to provide more storage space for your luggage, have larger windows, technology to provide a smoother ride and better climate control which all make for a better flight experience – we certainly felt better than we would usually when stepping off the plane, which is a very nice feeling indeed.

Staff are on hand to provide drinks and food at a time of your choosing, and you can have as much or as little as you like on board. The only thing they don’t serve is alcohol.

Royal Brunei operate out of Heathrow Terminal 4 and offer daily non-stop services to Dubai and a number of international destinations, such as Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Australia, Bali and Vietnam amongst other destinations. Prices are extremely competitive too, which is particularly attractive considering the level of service is so high. Currently, special fares to Dubai from London are from £343.56 return in Economy Class and £1812.56 per person in Business Class. All that’s left to do is kick back and enjoy the ride.

Mar 14

Sheen Falls Lodge, Ireland


County Kerry is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, for good reason. Its wild and rugged coastline is exquisitely beautiful, with jagged, rocky outcrops and stunning blue seas. The drive around the Ring of Kerry is one of the highlights of the area – a three hour drive around the most beautiful parts of the county is a must for all visitors.

Sheen Falls Lodge Relais & Chateaux is a delightful hotel to visit in the popular town of Kenmare, which is perfectly placed for visitors wishing to navigate the Ring of Kerry, or indeed around the adjacent Beara Peninsula.

Kenmare itself is a charming town – busy and bustling in summer months with visitors keen to see the local attractions for themselves. Sheen Falls Lodge Relais & Châteaux is situated just a few minutes outside the town of Kenmare and is surrounded by purple heather covered mountains and cascading waterfalls.  The hotel is actually situated on the falls, which offer the most dramatic views from guest bedrooms and the dining room, which is appropriately named Le Cascade.

Sheen Falls Lodge is a large, traditional hotel, which offers a wide range of facilities for guests. There is a delightful spa, which uses Voya Organic Irish products, and a large pool and spa area.

Rooms are spacious and many offer fantastic views over the falls. Some rooms have been very tastefully refurbished in a very sophisticated modern style, with large, comfortable beds, huge bathrooms and every comfort you need.

Dinner at La Cascade is a must. Start with a delicious cocktail in the bar first, and make your way into the dining room, where you can enjoy the best views from the property. The food is great and allergies are catered for well.  Sheen Falls also has one of the most significant wine lists in the country, and so guests are able to tour the cellars with Quentin, the sommelier, before dinner, which is a real highlight.

Staff at Sheen Falls are especially helpful and friendly, going way above and beyond the call of duty to make your stay special. We found that they were able to suggest some really memorable trips and excursions to enjoy.

A visit to Sheen Falls is very highly recommended indeed for a most relaxing and enjoyable break and also to enjoy this most beautiful part of Ireland.


For reservations call contact Relais & Châteaux:

Rooms are priced from £185-375 and suites are priced from £200-625 on a per room per night basis; breakfast is €24 per person.  Prices include taxes.

Relais & Châteaux is an association of 515 of the world’s finest hotels and restaurants, in 60 countries.  Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its ‘art de vivre’ across the globe by selecting outstanding character properties.  Each member has its own distinctive personality, but Relais & Chateaux hoteliers and chefs are united in their passion for hospitality, commitment to quality and an aspiration to deliver an ever-higher level of service.

Mar 14

Cliff House Hotel, Ireland

Cliff House Hotel

Cliff House Hotel

Cliff House Hotel part of the Relais & Châteaux group, is perched high on the cliff top overlooking Ardmore Bay, and offers one of the most spectacular views in Ireland. What is more, its main restaurant, where chef Martijn Kajuiter works his culinary magic, is one of only a handful to boast a Michelin star in the country.

The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore is regularly voted one of the best hotels in Ireland. The hotel sits in an ultra modern building, quite literally built into and onto the cliffs in Ardmore, a small town in County Waterford, just a 5 minute drive from the N25 – the main road running from Rosslare to Cork.

The hotel is, in fact split onto seven levels so that practically every room can enjoy the spectacular views from the hotel. The décor is a wonderful blend of seriously cool and ultra chic, and manages all this whilst offering absolute comfort to guests. Gorgeous seaweed artwork is displayed on the walls, and plenty of armchairs are thoughtfully positioned for you to relax and take in the surroundings. Some suites are split-level, with views over the sea from the beds and very private glass-fronted bathrooms, again, allowing you to enjoy the scenery from the bath or shower.

Despite its membership to Relais & Chateaux, the Cliff House Hotel has a very special boutique hotel feel. Staff are super helpful and charming and people drive from all over the country to come and stay here – in fact, the hotel gets booked up very quickly and far in advance.

Martijn Kajuiter’s restaurant enjoys a fabulous reputation and uses Irish produce to create an exciting fine dining experience for guests who visit from far and wide. Breakfast is also taken in the dining room looking out over the sea.  There is a great spread on offer to guests, which includes homemade scones, local yoghurt and of course, a delicious Full Irish. Food allergies are very thoughtfully catered for here.

The service is every bit as special as you might expect – genuinely friendly, helpful and charming which completes the experience at Cliff House. A visit is highly recommended for a special occasion, or just because.

For reservations call contact Relais & Châteaux:

Relais & Châteaux is an association of 515 of the world’s finest hotels and restaurants, in 60 countries.  Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its ‘art de vivre’ across the globe by selecting outstanding character properties.  Each member has its own distinctive personality, but Relais & Chateaux hoteliers and chefs are united in their passion for hospitality, commitment to quality and an aspiration to deliver an ever-higher level of service.  




Jan 14

One and Only Royal Mirage, Dubai


Dubai is the place to be right now. It is one of the world’s top destinations in November through to January.

The One and Only Royal Mirage is probably the most enchanting beach resort in Dubai. What is particularly special is that is manages to capture the very best of Dubai in its location and surroundings. Set in well-established gardens, there is a dramatic drive up to the resort buildings through the palm tree lined well-established gardens. We stayed in the Arabian Court, but there are also the Palace and the Residence properties available for guests here.

The hotel properties are both luxurious and dramatic in appearance, and sensitively blend traditional regional elements with pure fantasy in their design. The interiors are extremely tastefully decorated, incorporating elements of Arabian and North African design very successfully, but offer the level of luxury guests expect in Dubai, and are decked with 70 foot real palm trees inside, indoor fountains and plenty of marble. The One and Only Royal Mirage feels a very private and relaxed place to stay and is the perfect location for couples to enjoy a romantic break, or to celebrate a special occasion.

The resort owns a kilometre of private beach for guests to enjoy, which is set at the end of beautifully manicured lush, green gardens and two swimming pools. There are plenty of sun loungers available for guests wanting to sunbathe, and guests are well looked after by the staff on handing ensuring you have plenty to drink. For the more adventurous guests, there is a beach house which offers in-house water sports. We tried the water skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking which was great fun. There is a huge range of activities available every day.

The One and Only is a wonderful place for foodies to stay. Breakfast is a special affair. It can be taken inside or out, with an amazing selection of food available. The highlight is the fresh bread and pastries made by the French chef every day. They are as good as the very best you’d find in a French boulangerie, and are made in abundant quantities every morning.

Food allergies are catered for and staff do everything they can to make you feel at ease, as dietary requirements are communicated to all relevant staff in the hotel. The special gluten free bread and cakes we were given were excellent.

Dinner at the hotel’s Celebrities restaurant should feature on every guest’s itinerary. The dining room is sumptuously decorated with chairs you just sink into, enormous sparkling chandeliers and stunning views through the gardens. The food, cooked by French chef Laurent and served by expert French staff is divine. The lobster thermidor, asparagus risotto and wagyu beef are all highly recommended, although the menu offers a great number of tempting options. The wine list again offers a great choice, or just get your waiter to choose for you – the Poilly Fumé we tried was lovely.

If you’re after some rest and relaxation, you must try the Spa here. It is seriously special. Situated adjacent to the Residence building, in an absolutely beautiful building, it offers a really unique selection of treatments including the must-try, completely authentic Oriental Hammam experience which is simply heavenly.

Service is polished, profesional and friendly and there is a genuine desire to look after guests. From surprise gifts sent to the room, to handwritten letters from staff – there is a real sense of care and hospitality at the One and Only, which makes a visit so special and memorable.

Nov 13

The Magdalen Chapter


At nearly 18 months old, The Magdalen Chapter hotel has quickly established itself as the place to go in Exeter. Formerly the West England Eye Hospital, the hotel how occupies the large red brick building situated just five minutes by foot from the heart of the city centre. The building has been sympathetically renovated, retaining many original features whilst adding plenty of twenty-first century comforts.

The Magdalen Chapter is owned by Chapter Hotels, who have a sister hotel in Cheltenham. Down in Exeter, there are 59 bedrooms, a library, a bar, a spa, pool and gym, and of course, the dining room. We arrived at around 9pm on a Friday night and found the hotel buzzing. The bar was lively, with the evening in full swing, and plenty of people coming into the hotel to drink and dine.

We stayed in a feature room – one of the largest rooms in the hotel. We were shown up to our room by Richard, one of the duty managers who was very welcoming. Once we’d been shown around the room, we were handed an iPad which would be ours for the duration of the stay, and can be used to play music and find out most things you need to know about the hotel.

Our room was large with two bathrooms – one with a bath and the other with a shower, which were particularly luxurious and equipped with REN products, which are made locally in Devon.  Technology is a feature of the rooms, as we were able to listen to the TV and music in the shower room. We also had a control panel through which we could play our own music. Our room had a complimentary mini bar, containing some beer (which we swapped for wine, being wheat free), soft drinks and chocolate, and we had a Nespresso coffee machine, too.

The Magdalen Chapter restaurant sits at the back of the hotel in a large conservatory overlooking the gardens. Head chef Ben Bulger, formerly Head Chef at Riverford Field Kitchen, is guided by TV chef and restaurateur Simon Hopkinson, who acts as a consultant at Chapter Hotels. Their focus is on cooking locally sourced, seasonal British food.

Whilst we stayed, we enjoyed an evening meal and breakfast.  We did find breakfast a bit chaotic whilst we were staying, but the food was very good indeed. The choices available for breakfast offer a wide selection of interesting and tasty hot dishes. The food was very good indeed – great quality ingredients cooked really well. The service did let down the experience though – unfortunately when we visited, it was rather un-coordinated and a waitress took our menus away from us within five minutes of us having sat down, without taking our order. We had to then get up and retrieve our menus from the table on the side of the dining room. We also had to intercept our breakfast items from being served to other tables twice.

Our dinner experience was a lot better – the food was absolutely delicious and the service was charming. Technology weaves its way into the dining room here too, as diners are presented with an iPad wine list. It may sound gimmicky, but it was quite a straightforward way of choosing wine – by the glass, by price and so on.

I finished our stay with a 30 minute massage at the in-house spa with Jade, one of the therapists. It was absolutely lovely and Jade was a delight, running me through the range of REN products in great detail.

All in all, we had a very pleasant visit to the Magdalen Chapter. The communal rooms are lovely spaces in which to relax and the restaurant and spa are excellent. It is worth noting that there is very little parking – the car park was full and double-parked for the duration of our stay, and if you can’t get in, parking is around £7 a day in a nearby car park. We would recommend it as a comfortable and relaxing place to stay.

Nov 13



L’Eto on the King’s Road in London is a smart, chic cafe open all day long for breakfast, lunch and dinner, both to take away and eat in.

As you walk in you are greeted with enormous platters of delicious looking salads in front of you alongside delicately decorated cakes and gorgeous chocolate truffles piled onto silver platters. It all looks very inviting and is available to takeaway throughout the day. Not only would it make an excellent lunch, they do a brisk trade in takeaway quiches and meats for supper, too.

I decided to sit in and try the restaurant menu. To start, I tried a Crab and Avocado salad with soy and lime dressing, made with generous chunks of avocado, crab, black sesame seeds, fresh coriander leaves and finely chopped red chilli. It was vibrant and fresh tasting but substantial for a starter.

For the main course, I tried the Steak marinated in garlic and rosemary. The flavour of the steak was superb. It was juicy and tender, and full of flavour. With this, I tried a side of spring greens, which was a mixture of Tenderstem broccoli with kale, cooked al dente and topped with toasted flakes almonds. It was a really substantial side and would be enough for two people to share.

To finish, I managed around half a piece of the 73% chocolate cake. It’s described as chocolate fudge cake, but I’d say it is more of a deep and dense flourless chocolate cake. It was very rich and intensely flavoured and was a great way to finish a meal with coffee.

L’Eto is a lovely place to stop for a drink and food at any time of the day, and is highly recommended for its fresh, delicious food served in generous portions.  Lunch will set you back around £10-15 if you eat in, £7-10 for takeaway and dinner varies from £15-40 per head.

Nov 13

Meluha, Bristol


 Meluha opened in Bristol earlier this year, and is the second restaurant from Chef Stephen Gomes and Jay Miah. Moksh was opened in Cardiff Bay in 2007, offering a more modern interpretation of Indian food. Stephen’s cooking style is a twist on the classics – traditional flavours and spices, but presented in a more modern way.

Cooking is in Stephen’s blood. He is, in fact, the third generation of chefs in his family, and has cooked all over the world in many top restaurants. The influence of his extensive travels can be found in his award-winning cooking. Stephen has been voted Best UK Indian Chef several times, including most recently, 2012-3.

Meluha is situated on Park Street in Bristol. It is a light, slick and modern restaurant with a few nods to Asia in the decor. We sat in the window, which was a great spot from which to watch the world go by on a Saturday night in Bristol.

The menu offers plenty of choice – from the more adventurous dishes, including a five course tasting menu, which seemed to be the popular choice on our visit, to plenty of choice for customers wanting a more traditional curry. We started our meal with a delicious glass of Malbec. The wine list offers plenty of choice, both of bottles and wines by the glass, which we chose. It is very fairly priced, too. To accompany our wine, we had to have some poppadoms with Meluha’s chutney tray, which included a delicious mint yoghurt, mango chutney, tamarind sauce and sweet chilli sauce packed with kaffir lime leaves. All accompaniments were superb the tamarind and sweet chilli sauces were particularly good, making a pleasant change from some of the more predictable offerings at many Indian restaurants.

To start, we tried a Maya ‘Magic’ starter called ‘With a Little Twist’, which involved three pieces of chicken cooked in different ways: chocolate and orange chicken tikka, Moksh jerk chicken tikka and lemongrass and pepper chicken tikka. The starter arrived beautifully presented with the three different types of chicken on one plate. The flavours of each piece were absolutely delectable and the chicken was superbly tender. The portion was perfectly sized, too – a generous quantity of chicken, but not too much to spoil your appetite.

Moving on to the main course, we shared the Lamb Shank Roganjosh, a Kashmiri curry, made with whole lamb shanks cooked in a rich onion and fresh tomato puree sauce with cardamom and whole spices. The sauce was deep in flavour and the meat was meltingly tender with the shank served whole. It was topped with really tiny baby plum tomatoes, which added a lovely extra layer of texture. We thought it was superb.

We also tried the Ratinagiri Mango Lamb, a lamb curry made with mangoes, coconut milk and black pepper, and loved this too. The meat was generous and tender with a wonderfully flavoursome thick, smooth, tangy sauce.

Rices at Meluha were lovely and a little different.  The Pilau rice with caramelised onions was delicious – very savoury in flavour and complemented the curry very well. We also tried the Green tea rice, which was a basmati rice flavoured with green tea leaves. The rice was dark green in colour and had a wonderfully subtle green tea flavour. It worked particularly well with the sweeter Ratinagiri curry.

Not content with rice alone, we tried the garlic butter naan and garlic butter gluten free naan. There are a wide variety of interesting naan flavours, including Chilli chocolate and honey and rosemary and chicken tikka, which sound delicious. What is even better is that all breads can be made gluten free at Meluha, without even pre-ordering. In fact, as all dishes are made fresh from the menu, pretty much all dishes can be made gluten free. It was a particularly lovely experience being told you can have any dish or bread you like from the menu made gluten free – something we’ve not experienced at an Indian restaurant before.

To finish, we tried a trio of desserts put together for us by the chef. All were excellent. Our meal at Meluha was superb. The food was divine and the service just lovely from everyone who served us. It was, without question, the best curry we’ve ever had.

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