VIJAY’S VIRASAT: Restaurant with a familiar name

Those of you who have been following this blog since the earliest days will now that the editor/blogger/journalist (i.e. me) who runs the blog is named Vijay. Those who know me in real life also know of my reputation as a bit of a foodie. So the next bit will be quite interesting.

I live in Ilford, just east of the big smoke in the United Kingdom they like to call London, and within a 5 or so mile radius from my home are three establishments involved in the food industry that bare my name. First, there’s Vijay’s Chawalla, a Gujarati vegetarian restaurant located in Green Street, Upton Park. I was fortunate enough to visit the Chawalla many eons ago and their fare is amazing and sumptuous. Jumping back to Ilford again, you can take a trip down the High Road to Seven Kings, where you can buy all your kitchen staples at Vijay’s General Store, situated on the Green Lane. Now before you all start thinking I’ve turned into some kind of Richard Branson figure, buying up stores and restaurants, living it up on a yacht moored in Monaco, and giving Tesco et al. nightmares in the boardroom, I do not own the above mentioned establishments. I’m just lucky enough to have the same first name. And of course, my family and friends use the resto names as good ammunition to tease me with.

 

Recently a new Indian restaurant has joined the Vijay’s club. With the catchy and alliterated desi name of Vijay’s Virasat, this eaterie found its forever home in Horns Road, Ilford, not far from the junction of the A12 motorway (Eastern Avenue) and Ley Street, just north of where HEM News Agency’s HQ is based. The area around the junction is a shopping and eating out paradise, home to many high street stores, homeware vendors and other restaurants such as Mirage and Restaurant Oasis. This part of the Newbury Park district lies slap-bang between two residential areas, so guaranteeing a healthy footfall from a business perspective.

Vijay’s Virasat  was brought to you by the Vijay behind the aforementioned Chawalla, and a Indian sweet shop called, not surprisingly, Vijay’s Sweet Mart. For three decades, my very astute namesake has been bringing vegetarian Indian food to the denizens of east London, and with Virasat, this is their first foray into the curry-and-poppadom sort of Indian cuisine most people in the UK are familiar with.

The restaurant, which unlike the other businesses in the Vijay’s portfolio offers non-veg in addition to veg, is a modern celebration of the culinary crossing over and intermingling of British and Indian cultures that took place during the days of the Empire, as well as the influences on Indian cooking from Central Asia, Portugal and the lands of Arabia. After many centuries of this cultural mixing in the kitchens of south Asia, it has culminated in the menu of Vijay’s Virasat, with its Mughal and regional influences, with a little East African food thrown in for the British Asians who came from there.

You get the standard things and dishes you would find in a Indian restaurant, such as a tandoor (clay oven) for making naans and chicken dishes and the usual curries, rice, rotis, snacks etc etc. There are two different types of starters available, with a choice of vegetable, chicken, lamb and seafood mains to tantalise your tastebuds.

Some unusual and different menu highlights include the ‘Chicken Lollipop’ (chicken drumsticks deep-fried in a Chinese batter and then tossed in a hot garlic sauce), the ‘Chicken 1965’, which is not a dodgy electro music outfit but “spicy fried chicken tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and chillies”, Konkani fish masala, chilli and garlic flavoured naans and matka kulfi, a type of ice cream.

Thankfully for my reputation, Vijay’s Virasat has largely been a hit with London’s spoilt-for-choice diners, with the restaurant achieving a rating of 4.7 out of five stars on Facebook, but hey that’s how us Vijays roll!!

I have not yet had a chance to sample the dishes and the ‘rapturous experience’ of dining at the Virasat, and it certainly looks good. When I get round to it, I’ll tell you all about it.

 

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

Vijay’s Virasat, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/vijaysvirasat/

Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/ 

“About Us” – Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/#about-us

“Menu” – Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/#our-menus

“Reviews” – Vijay’s Virasat, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/pg/vijaysvirasat/reviews/

 

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HIV ORPHANS: Beauty contest winner sparks controversy after meeting children wearing protective gloves

Johannesburg – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS BAYNES and The Independent

A winner of the Miss South Africa beauty pageant has sparked controversy after visiting a home for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS while wearing protective gloves, the Independent newspaper of Britain reported today.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters visited a soup kitchen in the major city of Johannesburg to meet with the orphans. She was seen wearing gloves, which have led observers to accuse her of being racist. She was handing out hot meals to the orphans as part of the Winter Soup Drive charity event at the Ikageng community centre in Johannesburg, organised by the city’s Maslow Hotel. The Miss South Africa, aged 22 and of mixed heritage, however insisted the gloves were worn for hygienic reasons as she was working with food. On Twitter, Nel-Peters showed herself sitting down on steps with some of the Ikageng orphans, eating soup and bread rolls with them.

 

The picture shows Nel-Peters wearing what appears to be white latex surgical gloves as she eats a roll. It sparked a backlash from other Twitter users who claimed Nel-Peters was being racist or that she was afraid of being ‘contaminated’ by the children, many of whom had lost parents to HIV/AIDS or suffered from the virus themselves. South Africa has one of the world’s highest numbers of infected people. The 2007 UNAIDS report estimated that 5,700,000 South Africans had HIV/AIDS, or just under 12% of South Africa’s population of 48 million.

One Twitter user wrote: “I want to know why she would put on latex gloves to touch black children.” Another said: “I really can’t believe ‘our’ Miss SA is wearing latex so that she can touch these kids!” A third suggested she wore gloves “to protect herself from black kids” because she feared they would “contaminate her”. The backlash soon grew into a Twitter hashtag competition, #MissSAChallenge, which went viral this past Thursday, where users began posting pictures of themselves wearing white latex gloves, making fun of the beauty queen’s decision.

Some posted photos of themselves wearing gloves to type at a desk, make a drink, and read a book.

The Ikageng centre has spoken out against the challenge. Its programme director, Carol Dyanti, said All volunteers, including our staff members, wore gloves during the food preparation. It was mandatory.

“It was such successful day and I am sorry that the focus is now on the glovs (sic) rather than the positive impact it had.”

Nel-Peters also spoke out against the controversy, stating in the Independent story via an uploaded video on Twitter: “We were handing out food to young kids and that was the only intention with wearing the gloves.

“It was purely to be as hygienic as possible. I really feel like my intention were really misunderstood but I would like to apologise if I offended anyone.”

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who was born in Sedgefield in the Western Cape province in 1995, is a model who was crowned Miss South Africa this year and will go on to represent the country at the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants this year. Latex gloves are often worn by people working in catering and hospitality, as well as in the medical field, for reasons of hygiene and safety.

SOURCES:

The Independent, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/

“Miss South Africa sparks uproar by wearing gloves to meet orphans with HIV” – Chris Baynes, The Independent (8 July 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/miss-south-africa-wears-gloves-to-meet-hiv-orphans-uproar-demi-leigh-nel-peters-a7829581.html?cmpid=facebook-post

BBQ OMG: 11 million barbecues to fail this summer

London – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

It is the middle of summer, and in the UK, that of course means barbecue season. Families and people across the land will be pulling out their grills from the shed after a year of hibernation to fry tonnes of burgers, chops, sausages, kebabs and other meat and vegetarian products, but not all of them will reach the perfect sizzling conclusion, with a group of researchers claiming that up to 11 million British barbecue parties will be ruined this summer alone.

The main reasons for flaming failures, according to the research by meat trade agency Simply Beef & Lamb, are poorly cooked BBQ foods, followed by unwanted company, drunken guests and snacks or drinks running out. Other al fresco eating experiences could also be derailed by a lack of alcohol and bad taste in music or radio station selection. Burnt or undercooked food was the biggest risk factor for a ruined BBQ, with one in five Britons (22 per cent) complaining about it, according to the study, which surveyed a sample of 2,000 adults.

 

 

The massive amount of failed BBQs this year can also be put down to lack of skill in the relevant techniques with the study showing that one in five barbecue organisers struggling with the finer points of well prepared meat and poultry, and almost a quarter (24%) of participants going as far as branding the UK’s collective barbecuing a national disgrace. Twenty seven per cent of the sample claimed to be disgusted by seeing their food cooked on a dirty grill, with another twenty one per cent put off their burgers by guests exhibiting nasty eating habits or ‘table manners’. One in five respondents were annoyed by the British phenomenon of the ‘back-seat BBQer’ – guest who do not cook a single thing themselves but will hover around the person manning the grill, dispensing unwanted advice and criticism of their grilling finesse. Other respondents complained about groups of people huddling around the grill, public displays of affection, a lack of food and drink variety, and controversially, having to cater for vegetarian guests who cannot eat meat.

Simply Beef & Lamb also stated that the average adult will either attend or start up four barbecues in 2017, which adds up to 108 million cookouts among the UK’s 27 million households. The agency’s spokesperson, Nick White, spoke with SWNS news outlet, encouraging British families and friends to keep barbecuing, especially with steak:

“Following our survey, we are launching a campaign to get Brits grilling like Americans, Aussies and Argentinians.

‘We’re asking Brits to banish boring barbecue food and to come together to ‘raise the steaks’.’

‘It’s a misconception that steak is difficult to cook on the barbecue – it’s actually one of the quickest and tastiest meats to prepare on the grill.

‘There are numerous ways to enjoy it, from cutting it into kebabs to marinating it in different flavours.”

TOP 10 SIGNS A BARBECUE HAS FAILED:

  1. Undercooked food
  2. Rain
  3. Burnt food
  4. Bad company
  5. People who are too drunk
  6. Not enough food
  7. Poor BBQ skills
  8. No alcohol
  9. Bad music
  10. Boring and predictable food

TOP 10 BARBECUE BUGBEARS:

  1. Dirty BBQ grill
  2. People with bad eating manners
  3. Criticism and advice from ‘back seat’ BBQ-ers
  4. The amount of smoke from the BBQ
  5. Drunk arguments
  6. Same old bangers and burgers
  7. Vegetarians being awkward
  8. Couples’ public display of affection
  9. All the men huddling around the BBQ
  10. The fact you spend hours cooking and then everyone is too drunk to eat

SOURCE:

“Flaming Failures! 11 Millions Barbecues Will be Spoiled this Summer” – SWNS digital/72Point (1 July 2017) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2017/07/flaming-failures-11-millions-barbecues-will-be-spoiled-this-summer/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Texas – Driftwood: The Salt Lick BBQ – Barbecue pit” – Wally Gobetz, Flickr (17 August 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/8061453680

WELCOMING 2017: Ilford’s Ashgrove restaurant launches NYE night

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Ilford, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH

 

 

Popular Ilford based Indian gastropub the Ashgrove Restaurant has formally announced a special New Year’s Eve night to welcome in 2017 for local partygoers to come and enjoy great music and traditional and contemporary Punjabi, Indian continental and Chinese fare, great music and visual entertainments.

The restaurant, a short walking distance from Seven Kings town centre, will have music entertainment on the night provided by DJ Kash of local outfit Kash Events, which provides party and other event planning services as well as boasting a wide music portfolio from the Bollywood, bhangra, RNB and ‘club classics’. The NYE event is currently being promoted on the restaurant’s social media page where they promise it will be an ‘amazing evening’. A finger food buffet will also be available.

Located on Green Lane, Ashgrove, which was formerly a public house, is renowned locally for its dishes, including chilli paneer (Indian cheese), lamb and chicken grills, kebabs and snacks – including vegetarian, coupled with a well-stocked bar. The restaurant is popular with local sports fans who flock to watch football matches on its many widescreen televisions. It also boasts a beer garden to round off its unique ability to combine a traditional English pub with a modern Indian restaurant.

The event will be held on 31st December 2016, with tickets costing £25 for adults and £10 for children under 12, with buffet included. People interested in attending should call +44 208 599 4181 or email info@ashgroverestaurant.co.uk. The Ashgrove Restaurant is situated at 271 Green Lane, Ilford, Redbridge, Essex, United Kingdom IG3 9TN.

 

SOURCES:
Ashgrove Restaurant, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/ashgroverestaurant/
Kash Events, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/KashEvents/
KASH EVENTS http://kashevents.co.uk/
“About” – Ashgrove Restaurant, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/pg/ashgroverestaurant/about/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“The Host” – SteFou! (Stephen Oung), Flickr (13 September 2011) https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen-oung/6268131892

HUMOUR MOMENT: Don’t do drugs, do dhal puri

 

 

Drugs are horrible substances. Whether legal or illegal, recreational narcotics usually cause harm to the body, damaging the user from the inside and out. So instead of sniffing that line or hitting that pipe, why not tuck into some Mauritian-style dhal puri instead. You’ll look a million rupees, and you won’t have to worry about the police pulling you over and busting you for illicit dhal puri possession.

For those who have never encountered the awesomeness that is dhal puri, let me explain. This is a snack popular on the island of Mauritius and an unforgettable part of my island’s culinary landscape. It is unleavened bread (rather like a chapati or thick tortilla) filled with lentils and spices, and often consumed as street food. Also known as ‘dhol/dhall puri’, this food goes great with a dollop of ‘zasar’ (pickle).

IMAGE CREDITS:
Fano Miasta.
Radio Plus – Mauritius/Ile-Maurice, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/radioplusilemaurice/

VIDEO MOMENT: The Choco Kebab

 

Like most young British men (and women), I am very fond of kebabs, the Turkish, Greek and Central Asian fast food delicacy of meat and vegetables in a bread pocket. Since the doner kebab and its equally delicious siblings began appearing on the high streets here in the 1970s, the food has become a staple of pub crawls, family get-togethers and football matches.

So, when I was shown this video by my sister yesterday, which is usually kebab night for me, I just had to share this with you as a kebab fan. I’m also a chocaholic, so when this video began playing, I was shocked and pleased in equal measure that two of my greatest culinary loves had been fused into one delicious, mouth-watering and calorie-saturated snack.

Give a big round of applause to the Choco Kebab. Hailing from Italy, which has a large Afghan and Turkish populations famed for their greasy meat in rolls, this kebab replaces the spinning cylinder of processed lamb or chicken with one of white and milk chocolate. The cook shears off curls of chocolate with a special implement and packs them into a crepe, rather than the usual pitta or naan. The accompanying mayonnaise, chill sauce and ketchup is replaced with Nutella, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and other sweet treats.

This unique kebab is sold around the world, according to the video above, but I have never encountered anyone selling it here, and I live in London, one of the most adventurous cities for food in Europe. I’m now tempted to buy a van, empty the local stores of all their chocolate and party snacks, and become the richest chocolate kebab entrepreneur this side of the Adriatic.

Let me know what you think of this latest food trend.

VIDEO CREDITS:
INSIDER, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/thisisinsider/?fref=nf
Alia Hellz Bachell.

GLUTEN-FREE DIETS: Gluten Free Centre launches new mobile app for foodies

For people who have gluten intolerances or wish to have gluten-free diets, finding the right foods when out and about can be a minefield. With many restaurants and hotels not even aware of the existence of these intolerances and gluten-free diets, diners and travellers avoiding gluten can find themselves in awkward situations. However a new mobile phone app from the Gluten Free Centre promises to change all that.

The Gluten Free Centre – the United Kingdom’s most comprehensive online directory and community hub of for all things gluten free – has launched a new app that will help those living a gluten-free life find hotels, restaurants and stores that cater to them and stock food products without gluten. To promote all kinds of businesses supplying the gluten-free market, the GFC app will feature independent shops and hotels as well as big chains.

The app is designed to help anyone live a gluten-free life and locate their nearest businesses that can cater for their needs. Completely free of charge, the app will be launched officially at the The Gluten Free Centre’s corporate stand at The Allergy and Free From Show at Olympia, London from Friday July 3 to Sunday July 5, 2015. The app will be launched by GFC founders Diana and David Murphy.

(c) The Gluten Free Centre via Journalism.co.uk

 

Of the app, Diana said “We’re very proud of the new Gluten Free Centre app which will help our fast growing gluten free audience to access important information on the go.

“Users can choose from thousands of gluten-free friendly places to eat out, stay, shop or get a take away.

“What makes our app different is we include small, independent restaurants and hotels alongside the most popular chains.

“We’re selective about the places we add to our database – only the ones offering real choice, quality and understanding of gluten-free food are included.”

Based in the small town of Brinkworth, in the English county of Wiltshire, the Murphys launched the GFC in October 2014, based on their vision of creating a comprehensive and useful resource for people on gluten-free diets to find shops, eateries and businesses that place a high emphasis on their needs and requirements, as well as a supportive online community for everyone living gluten free in the UK.

The GFC’s website, along with its highly-acclaimed directory, the first of its kind in the British Isles, also offers fun gluten-free recipes, a blog and details on gluten-free events and competitions. The site aims to provide a wealth of information for for those with coeliac disease, wheat allergy, gluten intolerance and for people eating a gluten free diet for other health reasons such as Crohn’s Disease, MS, IBS or ASD – in addition to those who choose a gluten free diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. They also aim to bring together businesses, consumers, gluten-free organisations, experts and bloggers into a supportive and informative community, while also raising awareness of coeliac diseases and other intolerances affected by gluten, which is often found in wheat-based products such as bread and breakfast cereals.

The GFC community now stretches to 22,000 members and fans on Facebook alone. Its website receives 10,000 visitors per month and its free e-magazine reaches the inboxes of 6,000 readers across the UK. According to its website, the Gluten Free Centre has been featured in numerous glossy and women’s magazines and several regional newspapers and is a recipient of the SBS (Small Business Sunday) Award for new entrepreneurs by the BBC’s Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis.

About 1 per cent of the UK’s population suffers from coeliac disease in particular, according to statistics from the Kantar Worldpanel, but increasing numbers of people are cutting gluten out of their diets for health reasons. Kantar claims that in 2013, 49% of gluten free customers were new to the category. Currently 55 per cent of the British gluten-free market is made up of people opting out of gluten for health reasons.

The app is available to download from the Google Play store (for Android devices – http://bit.ly/1SJDfdX ) and from the iTunes App Store.

SOURCES:
“Award winning online directory for gluten free living launches its first mobile app!” [Press Release] – Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (24 June 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/award-winning-online-directory-for-gluten-free-living-launches-its-first-mobile-app-/s66/a565585/
“The Gluten Free Centre” – The Gluten Free Centre/The Gluten Free Centre Ltd http://theglutenfreecentre.co.uk/
“UK FREEFROM MARKET” – Incredible Bakery Company/incredibleshop http://www.incrediblebakerycompany.co.uk/uk-freefrom-market/
IMAGE CREDITS:
“Award winning online directory for gluten free living launches its first mobile app!” [Press Release] – Journalism.co.uk/Mousetrap Media Ltd (24 June 2015) https://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/award-winning-online-directory-for-gluten-free-living-launches-its-first-mobile-app-/s66/a565585/
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

GIF MOMENT: Easter bunny praises spinach diet

Well, as it is the Easter weekend, I’d thought to share with you this GIF spotted on my regular current affairs haunt, the UK tabloid newspaper Metro.

It’s a cuddly rabbit.

That really loves her spinach.

She’s definitely bought into the benefits of a diet of fresh organic greens.

Strangely mesmerising too.

Om nom nom.

HAPPY EASTER!!!

(c) Metro
Dedicated to the memory of Ruby and her children Rab and Bit. RIP.
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Two helpings of spinach a day can knock 11 years off you” – Alison Lynch, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (1 April 2015) http://metro.co.uk/2015/04/01/two-helpings-of-spinach-a-day-can-knock-11-years-off-you-5130024/

TESCO CUSTARD CREAM SPREAD: A new take on a nation’s favourite biscuit

The humble custard cream biscuit is a much-loved institution for teatime in the U.K. Consisting simply of a vanilla custard flavoured filling sandwiched between two elaborately-decorated oblong biscuits, the custard cream has long been loved for its wholesome flavour and its duplicity in eating methods. Many just simply take a bite out of the biscuits while a significant minority will separate the biscuits in half and lick off the filling. The custard cream biscuit also lends itself superbly to that other British teatime institution – being dunked in a cup of tea or milk.

Supermarket retailer Tesco has decided to make its own take on these homely custard delights by launching its own custard cream spread based on the filling. A single jar contains 400 grams of the sweet custardy goodness and is being retailed for the price of £1.99, according to Tesco’s website. The main ingredients of the product if you are curious are custard cream biscuits (37%), rapeseed oil, sugar, palm oil, natural vanilla flavouring, and hazelnuts. Various media outlets have already hailed the spread as a revolutionary change for the average British lunchtime.

The new product, which comes in a peanut butter style jar, has a yellow plastic lid and carries a label emblazoned with the Tesco logo on a background of the highly ornate face of a custard cream biscuit. It has already become a huge hit with the store’s customers and also has practically blown up the internet as well, with popular news feed site Buzzfeed describing the spread as “a revolution in biscuits”. The spread understandably makes a good filling for custard cream biscuits, but Twitter users have reportedly used it to stick together two Digestives too, while one particularly adventurous person added porridge oats to the jar to make a custard cream oatmeal breakfast. It has also been seen in currant buns and in bagels. It also looks like it would make a good filling for sandwiches or a dip for other kinds of biscuits as well, if Twitter is anything to go by. 

Not everyone has been so enthusiastic about the spread. Some has criticised the spread’s nutritional value and its soft consistency, while one critic claimed that the supermarket chain was trying to imitate the United States. Another described it as “all kinds of wrong”, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Tesco have also launched other spreads in its British biscuits series, including a chocolate flavoured version replicating the inviting taste of the Bourbon biscuit, which is similar to custard creams but in an entirely chocolaty format. However apparently this spread has not been as popular. You can also buy one that tastes of chocolate chip cookies or Oreos. Basic chocolate spreads made for use in sandwiches have been long established in the UK, with Nestle and Cadbury’s being leaders in the field. The Italian hazelnut concoction Nutella, manufactured by Ferrero SpA, also enjoys cult popularity among British shoppers, but Tesco are the first food manufacturer to market a spread directly influenced by the U.K.’s culinary traditions.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Tesco Is Selling Custard Cream Biscuit Spread And Life Will Never Be The Same” – Patrick Smith, Buzzfeed/BuzzFeed, Inc (31 October 2014) http://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/custard-cream-biscuit-spread?bffb&utm_term=4ldqphz&utm_content=buffer219a7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#4ldqphz
“Tesco Custard Cream Spread 400G” – Tesco http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=284754252
“Is Tesco’s new custard cream biscuit spread genius or madness?” – Leah Hyslop, The Telegraph – Home – Food and Drink – Food and Drink News/Telegraph Media Group Limited (31 October 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11201987/Is-Tescos-new-custard-cream-biscuit-spread-genius-or-madness.html
“New Tesco Custard Cream Biscuit Spread” –  Katherine GG, Grocery Gems (5 September 2014) http://grocerygems.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/new-tesco-custard-cream-biscuit-spread.html
IMAGE CREDIT/TWEET:
BuzzFeed UK, Twitter/Twitter Inc. (31 October 2014) https://twitter.com/BuzzFeedUK