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Archive for September, 2017

Autumn 2003, it was a cold Swiss autumn, my landlord who was from England invited me to watch a Riverdance on TV. It was Michael Flatley’s show and I was impressed. I had a dream since then to watch the Irish dance on stage. Roll on 14 years and the dream came true. We were once again in Orchard theatre for the dance show – “Spirit of the dance”. David King the producer of the show, created “Spirit of the dance” being inspired by Michael Flatley in 1996. But the “Spirit of the Dance” is not just Irish dance. This show includes Irish, salsa, flamenco, ballet, ballroom, tap, street dance, and more.

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Two tired adults on a weekday night, we did not know what to expect. From the first chords of the music and the scintillating moves, we knew we were in for a treat! Watching the clever incorporation of Irish dance with some modern hits and ballet, I couldn’t help to think why it won nine global awards. The Irish dance, the team spirit, the quick costume changes, the unanimous moves and the dancers energy was charging the whole audience. We could not believe their stamina. I loved when they came out without any music and tap danced. This showed how good they were and the rapport with audience was great. We were helping them to recreate the clap music and everybody quite enjoyed being part of the show. The likes of flamenco and street dance were unexpected but really well received.  This has inspired us a lot. We won’t just look at after school tap dance, ballet and the likes of it – as just a recreational pass time. “Spirit of the dance” shows how energizing is a great dance show!

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The show is on till 16th of September 2017 at Orchard theatre. It is a great opportunity to catch the breath-taking show, especially if you or your family are interested in some of those dances.

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Being a Londoner we are always on a lookout for a special place. We have recently been to a culinary express to India through Hankies café. What is this place do you say? Being in heart of Soho and a short walking distance from Leicester square and Piccadilly square – Hankies is very well located. It is quite easy to spot when you reach “The Queens” theatre where they show “Les Miserables” you have almost reached Hankies. You now know the landmark next to it and won’t miss it. This is a good fact to hold on to if your group consists of tired children and parents with buggies and you don’t want to wander around looking for a place to eat. Its location means you can go and grab something quick or explore their a la cart menu for a full meal, before any West End show. The cosy environment with bar stools in front and a seating area at the back of the place – take into account the needs of different diners. Besides Hankies is one of the few places in China town, which is not Chinese or pizza for a change. “Hankies” is a casual Indian street food restaurant serving Indian Tapas since last eight months and specialises in serving Roomali Roti. A classic Indian roti which is hand spun till it’s thin enough to read through, cooked on a burning hot Roomali Tawa and folded into ‘Hankies’.

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Upon arrival, we have been greeted by a very friendly Asish, who helped me fold my buggy and to store it away. Having two children – the first thing they needed is the use of facilities. Hankies cafe is linked with the Piccadilly hotel, which means one can use their spotless clean toilets. My only concern was going down the stairs with the children, but later I found out there was a lift to reach WC too. Afterwards, we sat looking at the menus. They had a-la cart menu, kid’s menu and drinks menu. Both of the children ordered different things from the kid’s menu. The elder one went for grilled chicken tikka, aam gur ke kheer – Indian rice pudding and a juice. The younger one was not keen to excite her taste buds much, so she ordered fish and chips, kulfi ice cream and juice.  Once kids were sorted, it was our turn to order and boy was it difficult! The menu was bursting with flavours and just the names of the dishes were so inviting. After long deliberations  – the three adults -we ordered Bhindi bhel, dahl phuri, Hankies dal, pumpkin paneer, chilli lamb chops, fish tikka, keema kaleji, egg and crab gotala, chicken dhaba . For dessert, we ordered aam gur ke kheer, gajarela, homemade kulfi pistachio ice cream.

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While we were waiting for our food, we asked Asish and chef Manoj to explain us the food we were going to have. The passion they have for food they are cooking and the willingness of inviting the crowds of London to a gastronomic journey to India are unbelievable. Listening to them you realise, here at Hankies cafe the food is cooked with passion, all the spices are mixed here to please a rather neutral palette and not to be too fiery hot. The freshness of the food is guaranteed as everything is cooked from scratch here. No prepared, pre cooked ingredients – everything is cooked fresh from the minute you order your food. The children menu was thought through too. Kids do not like too spicy a food mostly, so the “grilled chicken tikka” was soaked in spices overnight and then thoroughly washed. So the little people wouldn’t be met with burning sensation but taste the flavour of the spices. My usually very fussy and reluctant to eat anything with a hint of spice elder child loved her chicken tikka, which was served with apple chutney with a side of beetroot/radish veggie swirls. This is a good way of starting introducing the children to the world of spices and other flavoursome cuisines. We have also ordered a blueberry lassi, which we all liked.

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Those meat lovers and culinary delight seekers like myself are in for a treat here. I was not a fan of Indian food, so it is difficult to sway me to go back to an Indian place for another meal. But the dedication of the staff, their love and devotion to the food they make elevates your dining experience to another level.  Their willingness to explain you every new fusion -explosion your taste buds are going through leads you appreciating the food more. You almost hear the hassle and bustle of busy Delhi streets with every mouthful of delightful Indian tapas at Hankies. We loved all of the food we were served. Do not be fooled with the tapas size small bites. They come with the relishes, raitas, kachori poppers and roomali roties and while you are taken on a gastronomic journey your stomach gets pleasantly full. I personally loved: bhindi bhel, chilli lamb chops and aam gur ke kheer.  Bhindi bhel is an unexpected dish with rice puffs, veggies and such a subtle delightful spice mix. I can not believe one can transform simple rice puffs to such a great culinary height.  Mexican food meet Indian fusion gave incomparably tender chilli lamp chops, the avocado relish on a side was la cerise sur le gateau! The caramelised mango rice pudding “aam gur ke kheer” was a really good dessert to finish off the culinary journey to Indian street food. I never liked rice puddings, but now I can say that I am a convert. The children liked their home made kulfi ice creams, particularly pistachio one was a hit.

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By this point, I was thinking of grabbing a coffee. The masala coffee on the drinks menu was promising, so I  ordered it. Can you imagine having a coffee with cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and coffee? Masala coffee is all about rich flavour and a pleasant scent. Move over other coffee chains, I know where I will be taking my fix next time I am around the corner. In conclusion, Hankies cafe is a great place to come and taste Indian street food tapas. A place to take your family and your friends on a culinary express to India in heart of London.

hankiNo need to queue in famous chains when you can get such a good quality, fresh food in a cosy cafe. The food, the dessert, the drinks are all a la hauteur- bravo! The price may be a little on a pricier side, but one gets filled quickly. To me, the quality was comparable if not better to some high chain restaurants. I will be going back there with my friends and family! The food was just right, not excessively spicy, yet flavoursome. What not to like, even writing this review my mouth is watering at the thought of this little place I have discovered and happy to share about. Go on try yourselves- you can thank me later.

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