We happily accepted an invite to go behind the scenes at Hankies with Head Chef and founder Ani Arora and see how he makes some new dishes. And we walked away with the recipes for you, too.
‘I’ll turn down the extraction so we can hear each other better,’ says Ani throwing a switch in the kitchen at Hankies.
Immediately the noise level drops, but the temperature immediately starts to climb. Ani says something to the team and they laugh but you can tell they’re not entirely happy at being hot-housed for my benefit.
All kitchens are hot of course, although not as hot as they were ten or twenty years ago. What makes this one at Hankies at the Montcalm Hotel exceptionally warm is the presence of a Josper Oven as well as, of course, a tandoor oven too.
A Josper runs on pure charcoal and the temperature inside one is like the center of the sun. The beauty of a Josper is that when it comes to meat it’s able to sear the outside perfectly in a very short time, while leaving the centre nicely pink.
Ani is going to demonstrate this with a Tomahawk Steak, a Fred Flintstone piece of meat that is actually an on-the bone Rib Steak taken from the fore-rib with the rib bone left in and french-trimmed. It has a decent amount of fat, and fat means flavour of course, and can be up to 6 cm thick and over a kilo in weight.
For that reason you don’t ever try and fry this beast, but instead roast it like a joint. Ani makes up a Himalayan Spice Rub of cumin, garam masala, dried herbs, dry garlic chutney and salt and massages it all over the meat.Then he opens the gates of hell, aka the Josper, and gets the steak swiftly inside where it will cook for around 25 minutes.
If you don’t have a Josper, really you don't? Then you can oven roast and then finish under a grill to get that seared spice exterior.
While it’s cooking Ani gets a whole purple cauliflower that’s already been blanched, white will do but isn’t as pretty.
Then carefully without breaking the florets he covers it with a mixture of yoghurt and cheese then stuffs it with spicy fragrant masala potato mash.
He spikes it on a long metal rod and will soon lower it into the tandoor oven, praying he says, that it won’t fall off.
But of course it wont. At home, a fierce oven will do almost as good a job.
Finally, as his team continue to effortlessly meet the demands of the diners outside, swerving past me balletically with laden trays of beautifully presented food, he makes up a spice rub for a pheasant, although partridge would do as well.
The spice list is long, but nothing most of us can’t get hold of. The birds’ breasts will be covered in the mix and left to marinade for 15 mins before hitting the oven, so I go outside to the near-audible relief of the charming and hard working team on the stoves.
When the food comes it is superb, particularly that Tomahawk sliced into delicious pieces and served with tomato salad and avocado chutney and of course 'hankies', paper thin, freshly cooked and folded rotis.
The cauliflower is enough to delight any meat eater, let alone a vegetarian and the pheasant is fiery with a crunchy skin.
It’s all excellent and in the glamorous surroundings of Hankies Marble Arch it all goes down a treat.
If you can’t make to Hankies, our review of the Hankies standard menu is here and here are the recipes for the winter warmers
Do try these at home!
Hankies at The Montcalm Hotel
Pheasant Gol Mirch
1 cup silver onions
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 Andhra chillies/cherry peppers
1-2 whole green chillies whole
1-2 fresh whole red chillies
2-3 tsp garlic & ginger paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 sprig curry leaves
3-4 whole garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon
2 tablespoon oil
5 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
Salt to taste
- Slice the pheasant into 8 pieces with a sharp serrated knife
- Marinade the pheasant with turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder & salt and leave to rest for 10-15 minute
- In a preheated oven cook the pheasant for 15 minute @ 175 C
- Put oil in a heated pan, add curry leaves, mustard seeds, ginger garlic paste, garlic cloves, cinnamon and star anise, then add the pheasant and flip several times; add the Andhra chillies and the fresh and dry chillies
- Sprinkle on ½ tsp of turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala at this stage as well
- Add salt to taste
- Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the pheasant is golden brown and the skin is crisp
1 purple cauliflower (1000 – 1200g) whole head
2 tablespoons neutral oil (sunflower or vegetable)
1 cup yoghurt
100g grated cheddar cheese
8 garlic whole cloves
3 green chillies
50ml double cream
Salt to taste
500g floury potatoes quartered
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1½ inch piece of ginger finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric (add a little more if you want colour to be more intense)
1 teaspoon green chillies very finely chopped
1 bunch finely chopped curry leaves
Salt to taste
Masala Mash – method
Cook the potatoes in boiling water
Mash the potatoes
Now in a large saucepan, add oil on a medium high heat and throw in the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to pop add onion, ginger, turmeric, curry leaf and chillies and cook for a further minute
Add the mashed potatoes and stir together. The turmeric will give the potatoes a nice yellow colouring that is both attractive and very tasty
Wash the cauliflower and remove the stem and leaves, while keeping the flower whole
Blanch the cauliflower for 5 minutes, strain and let the cauliflower cool down a little
Blend together curds, a tablespoon of oil, grated cheese, garlic, green chilli, double cream
Once the cauliflower is cool, rub the curds mixture all over and stuff the potato mixture in between the florets of each cauliflower. Let it rest for 10 minutes
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cauliflower is cooked through. Half way through, brush once more with oil
Bone In Tomahawk Steak
Ingredients for Masala Rub
2 table spoon cumin powder
2 table spoon garam masala
2 table spoon dried herbs
3 table spoon dry garlic chutney
Salt to taste
Ingredients Avocado Chutney
3-4 mint leaves
4-5 springs coriander
½ tsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
½ tsp roasted cumin
1 tsp olive oil
10-15 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 tsp toasted cumin powder
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp lemon juice
· Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
· Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and apply the masala rub
· Place on a tray and leave for 25-30 minutes until they reach room temperature
· Cook steak in oven for 20-25 minute @170C, cook to medium
· On a gas grill set to high heat and place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill. Without turning, watch to see that the rub is set and has formed a crust, 5 to 8 minutes. You'll know the steak is ready to flip when it releases easily from the grill
· Remove from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving
· For serving, move the steaks to a cutting board and cut the meat away from the bone and into thick slices
· Serve with tomato salad and avocado chutney
· Avocado Chutney – coarsely blend all the ingredients
· Salad – in a bowl toss cherry tomatoes with oil, cumin powder and lemon juice