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About Dan Toombs

Dan Toombs has been a member since February 10th 2011, and has created 592 posts from scratch.

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A Review of Meall Reamhar and The Four Seasons Hotel Loch Earn

The Four Seasons Hotel, Lock Earn Scotland

The Four Seasons Hotel

The Four Seasons Hotel on Loch Earn, Perthshire, Scotland was a welcome site as my wife Caroline and I pulled into the car park. We had just driven five hours south from Golspie in the Scottish Highlands where we had spent three magnificent days teaching a curry class to new friends. As fun as it was, we were ready to relax and have someone else do the cooking.

We were met by Mary at reception, a pleasant woman who seemed to really like working there. She showed us to our room and could not have been more helpful. Caroline and I were already feeling a bit peckish but we decided to go out and explore a bit before such luxuries as wining and dining at Meall Reamhar.

View from The Four Seasons Hotel

This is a private area for hotel guests to enjoy just across from the hotel.

On the patio of The Four Seasons Hotel

Caroline enjoying the sun.

The hotel and restaurant are situated in a beautiful part of the world. We walked along the loch for about an hour to take it all in before making our way back to the hotel patio for a drink. We were lucky with the weather and could have sat there for hours indulging in adult beverages but it was time to dine at the award winning Meall Reamhar.

Snack with drinks at the Four Seasons Hotel

Cumin roasted cashews and lemon marinated olives made a great start to the meal that was to come.

We were first shown to a delightful table in the lounge with a huge window overlooking the loch where we ordered a bottle of Merlot and I had my obligatory pre-dinner lager. Snacks were brought to our table as we devoured the menu. Not literally of course. We were hungry but not that far gone.

Chaat

A delicious play on Indian chaat.

Shortly after ordering we were shown to our table, again with a splendid view of Loch Earn. Another hors d’oeuvre of chickpeas cooked in tomatoes and spices that were served with mini breadsticks was brought to our table. There was so much going on in that dish. It was like a party in your mouth with cumin, slow roasted tomatoes, chickpeas and small pieces of fennel very similar to an Indian chaat. I need this recipe!

After a short pause we were presented with our starter courses. Caroline had oysters served with a homemade chutney that were to die for. I stole one. I ordered the beef fillet tartar with finely chopped capers and Parmesan served with homemade croutons. This was no ordinary tartar of ground beef. I loved the texture of the finely chopped fillet.

Beef fillet tartar

The out of this world gorgeous beef fillet tartar

croutons

These wonderful, crisp croutons were served with the tartar.

Oysters

The one that went missing. ;-)

It was time to cleanse out pallets before the main course. Nothing a few swigs of wine and a shared sorbet and Chef’s soup couldn’t do. By the way, that celeriac and coconut soup is another recipe I’m either going to have to try to copy or get the chef to send me. Most curry fans will love it.

The Chef's soup at The Four Seasons Hotel

Sorbet

view from The Four Seasons Hotel

The view from out table as the sun began to set.

candle at the Four Seasons Hotel

For her main course, Caroline chose The Catch of the Day. Oh my… it was good. It consisted of a delicate and perfectly cooked piece of turbot, a large languistine and scallops all set on top of a creamy crab bisque. This all went so well with the fresh asparagus that was just cooked through so that it still had a nice crunch to it and jersey potatoes.

I opted for the pan seared Gressingham Duck – nice and crisp on the exterior and pink inside just the way I like it. This was accompanied with sweet potato mash, sweet flash fried endive, sautéed salsify and a cognac green peppercorn sauce.

Fish of the Day at The Four Seasons

A fish course with a difference.

Fish course at The Four Seasons

And another look!

Duck course at The Four Seasons

Duck the way I like it.

Duck at The Four Seasons

How do you finish a meal like this? Well, we chose the cheese platter and were not let down. Out came a fabulous selection of cheeses, served at room temperature with grapes, chutney and oatcakes. Of course we had to knock it all back with a splash or two of fine port.

Cheese selection at The Four Seasons

The cheese selection at The Four Seasons

It was time to move outside for coffee and a bit more wine and the last few minutes of sun. We do like our wine almost as much as our food. What a lovely evening. We really couldn’t fault a thing. Cooking as much Indian food as I do, it’s nice from time to time to venture out and get ideas from top chefs of other cuisines. I can assure you I’ll be using some of the spectacular ideas presented to us that evening in my own cooking and Indian inspired recipes so please watch this space.

Snacks at The Four Seasons

Downed with coffee and a glass or two more wine.

With dinner finished it was time to turn in. This review wouldn’t be complete without a few words about the hotel.

The Four Seasons Hotel is a place you can go and really unwind. It’s not fancy but it’s comfortable – we would love to visit again soon. I guess you could call it a walkers hotel perfect for families or romantic getaways. It’s situated in a fantastic location for exploring the beautiful area by foot, cycle or car, where you know you will have a place to return to after your day’s adventure with all the home comforts.

In addition to Meall Reamber, there is the more casual Tarken Bistro that is targeted at families. It too has amazing views of Loch Earn. There are also two bars and a number of small cubby hole rooms where you can easily escape for a few hours and read or just watch the day go by.

Lounge at The Four Seasons

Lounge room outside Meall Reamhar

The library room at the Four Seasons

The library room. Perfect for getting away from it all.

Breakfast at The Four Seasons

What a way to start the day. Breakfast is served.

Disclosure: Caroline and I were guests of Meall Reamhar and received a complimentary meal. We were also offered a media discount for our room. All views are my own and I received no payment for this review. I was also under no obligation to write a review good or bad.

For more information about The Four Seasons Hotel and Meall Reamhar, please visit their site here.

Pepperoni Madras Pizza

Pepperoni Madras Pizza

It’s only missing the fresh chillies on top.

This may look like your bulk standard pepperoni pizza but it’s so much more. This is a pepperoni madras pizza, the first of a series of Indian inspired pizza recipes I’m going to be sending your way. If you’re a spice fan, you’re going to love this one.

In order to make this pizza, you’re going to have to make my base curry sauce. The small version here will do just fine. It doesn’t take any longer to make than a good tomato based pizza sauce. You will also want to make one of my naan recipes. For this pizza I used this one but any of my naan recipes should do the job.

I was considering using chicken for this and you could too. The thing is, I love pepperoni on pizzas so pepperoni won. I used a spicy Italian siccia sarda piccante which I sliced thinly. It is so much better than the bland sliced pepperoni you find at the supermarket.

If I had been a little bit better prepared, I would have purchased a few hot green chilli peppers, sliced them thinly and then covered the top with them. I wasn’t.

I forgot to do a shop so the three chillies I had on hand went into the sauce. Still though, I recommend doing this if you love fresh chillies as much as I do. I can assure you I’ll be making this one again soon and replacing the photo with one that has the added essential topping.

Pepperoni Madras Pizza

All ready. Cooked in the oven in 60 seconds!

Pizza oven

My sous chef.

 

Pepperoni Madras Pizza
Author: 
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Indian/Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 - 4
 
Ingredients
  • 600g naan dough (This is enough for three pizzas)
  • 750ml base pizza sauce (This is enough for three pizzas)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 3 green chillies - finely chopped
  • 1 tablespon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli powder (More or less to taste)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons smooth hot mango chutney
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 450g buffalo mozzarella
  • Sliced pepperoni - As much or as little as you like
Instructions
  1. If cooking in a home oven, pre-heat it to its highest setting. If you have a pizza stone, heat it at the same time. If you have a wood-fired pizza oven, you probably don't need me to tell you what to do.
  2. First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  3. When hot, spoon in the garlic and ginger paste and let sizzle for about 30 seconds.
  4. Now add the chopped chillies, the garam masala, cumin, coriander powder and turmeric and chilli powder and stir to combine.
  5. Pour in the base curry sauce. For best results, always heat the base sauce before adding it to a recipe.
  6. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and then stir in the spicy mango chutney. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. Now divide your dough into three equal sized dough balls and press with your hands into round discs.
  8. You can either roll out the dough with a rolling pin or stretch it out with your fingers. Be sure to from a thicker ledge around the circle so that it forms a nice crust when cooked.
  9. Spread the sauce equally over the three madras pizzas.
  10. Top with the buffalo mozzarella and pepperoni. Be sure to add fresh chillies on the top if you want to make this zing of a pizza into a zap.
  11. Place in the oven on a pizza stone and cook until ready. My wood burning oven cooks a pizza in 60 seconds. My oven takes a little longer.

 

How to Make a Balti Masala

 

Tandoori masala powder

Balti masala can be used in marinades and curries

The only reason I call this a ‘balti masala’ is because I learned to make a much smaller blend of spices like this the first time I made a balti curry. It tastes great in balti style curries but it can be used in any recipe calling for curry powder.

Curry powders were introduced to the UK as a way of quickly and easily making curries at home. They are still used a lot in Indian restaurants and the best are homemade. This is really just a curry powder recipe and it is so versatile.

I use this same balti masala recipe in everything from balti curries to marinades. Mix a tablespoon or so into about 200ml of well hung yogurt and you have a quick and easy tandoori marinade that works well on seafood, vegetables and meat.

If you want to try making up your own curry recipe using this balti masala, simply fry some chopped onions and perhaps a chopped bell pepper and/or diced tomatos  and then add your preferred meat, fish or vegetables. I usually use about 200g of meat per person.

Add one heaping tablespoon of balti masala paste per person and a little water or stock to cover and simmer until the meat, seafood or vegetables are cooked through.

A few years ago, my then twelve year old son brought a friend home from school and whipped up a chicken balti in just ten minutes using this balti masala. It’s easy and tasty for even the most novice of cooks.

Makes about 200g ( Or enough for 20 single servings)

How to make british indian restaurant style meals

Illustrated with photographs of each recipe!

My Ebook of curry house style recipes is available now for download to Kindle, iPad, Smartphones and most tablets!

 

How to Make a Balti Masala and Create Many Different Dishes Quickly and Easily
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons white cumin seeds
  • 1 six inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • The seeds of six back cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon onion seeds
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
  • 30 dried curry leaves
  • 7 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoon ground garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground red chilli powder
  • Vinegar and vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Place the seeds, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns in a dry frying pan and dry fry over medium heat until the spices begin to smoke lightly. Be careful not to burn them!
  2. Place these spices along with all the leaves in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Add the rest of the ground spices and mix well.
  4. Store the powder in an air-tight container in a dark cupboard. for best results, use within three months
  5. TO USE
  6. to make a balti masala paste for use in balti curries
  7. Mix one heaping tablespoon of balti masala powder with two tablespoons of vinegar and two tablespoons of vegetable oil to form a paste.
  8. To be honest, I don't use measures when I do this at home. To cook a balti curry for four people, I take four heaping tablespoons of balti masala powered. Then I mix in a little vinegar and oil with the powder to make a paste.
  9. Stir this into your curry at the end of oooking.

 

 

Balti masala is the secret ingredient every curry lover should have on hand!

 

Coriander and Coconut Chicken Curry

Coriander and coconut chicken curry

Coriander and coconut chicken curry can be made in minutes.

This is a tasty and easy curry to make. It’s a good one for the work week as it can be made in less than 30 minutes after work. The flavour combo is bright and spicy which I do like in a curry. For added flavour and a bit more sauce, try adding about 250ml of my fragrant stock.

I prefer to use a lot more chilli but I have toned it down here as my daughters aren’t all that keen on spicy hot food. You could easily add more or less to taste.

I like to serve coriander and coconut chicken curry with homemade naans. My stovetop recipe is here. If time is an issue, just serve it with white rice or a crusty loaf of French bread.

Coriander and coconut paste

The coriander and coconut paste.

Coriander and coconut chicken curry

Beginning to cook with fragrant stock.

Coriander and coconut chicken curry

Served with homemade naan and Pukhraj cider

How to make british indian restaurant style meals

Illustrated with photographs of each recipe!

My Ebook of curry house style recipes is available now for download to Kindle, iPad, Smartphones and most tablets!

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch coriander
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 green chillies - finely chopped
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 250ml fragrant stock (optional) Recipe link above
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 two inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Juice of two limes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the fresh coriander, garlic and ginger paste, chillies and coconut milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
  3. When hot, toss in the cloves and cinnamon stick and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
  4. Now add the chopped onion and fry until the onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Sprinkle in the cumin, coriander powder and garam masala and mix it all up well.
  6. Add the chicken pieces and fry for about a minute before adding the coriander/coconut paste.
  7. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. It should take about 10 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a good squeeze or three of lime juice.
  9. Note: I added fragrant stock to mine as we like our curries with a little more sauce. The fragrant stock adds a lot of nice flavour too. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave it out.

 

Tandoori Wagyu Beef Kebabs

Wagyu Beef Kebabs on the Thüros Kebab Grill

The Thüros Kebab Grill is available now on my online shop.

It would be difficult to find beef better that Wagyu. I’m sure it exists but it’s currently my personal favourite. The other day I was sent a few Wagyu beef steaks from Alternative Meats and couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

This is a simple recipe. I didn’t want a heavy marinade that would have competed with the natural flavour of the Wagyu beef. Instead, I chose an old favourite.

The simple marinade could of course be used with any good quality beef. Wagyu beef isn’t cheap so just use any quality sirloin or rump steak if you like. If you want a real treat, however, go for the Wagyu.

The nicely marbled meat is so tender and tastes great grilled over open flames. Crispy and charred on the outside and rare and tender on the interior. It’s food heaven.

This is a recipe that really needs to be cooked on the barbecue or in the tandoor oven for best results. I’ve tried pan frying and roasting it in the oven but for me, it’s all about barbecue! End of.

Wagyu beef kebabs on the Thuros kebab grill

So quick and easy to make

Beef kebabs

Can you taste it?

How to make british indian restaurant style meals

Illustrated with photographs of each recipe!

My Ebook of curry house style recipes is available now for download to Kindle, iPad, Smartphones and most tablets!

 

Tandoori Wagyu Beef Kebabs
Author: 
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Tandoori
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 800g Wagyu Sirloin or rump steaks cut into bite sized pieces
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • Freshly cracked white and black peppercorns to taste.
  • Salt to taste
  • Limes and chilli sauce to serve.
Instructions
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and dump the beef cubes in.
  2. Allow to marinate for about eight hours.
  3. When ready to cook, heat your coals in the barbecue until they are white hot. I usually cook when my hand becomes very hot when held at the level the meat will be cooked for about two seconds.
  4. The meat can be cooked on a grill but I prefer to skewer them as photographed.
  5. Grill until the meat is nicely charred on the exterior and the inside is cooked to your preferred doneness. I like it rare or 50c. Medium rare is 56c.
  6. Serve with lime wedges and your favourite chilli sauce.

 

Link to Curry Guy Smoked Spices

Curry Guy smoked curry spices are available now online!