Guest post by Tom Richardson, Founder & Director of Trilogy Creative, London
Although it’s not an obligatory Winter accessory, freezing weekends on the wrong side of Christmas are made that much more special and indulgent when there’s a takeaway to tuck into. During these cold spells, an Indian is the perfect antidote to the February blues and the perfect winter warmer, and that’s despite many of the dishes hailing from tropical climes…warm weather, cold weather, who cares! In short, we don’t need much of an excuse to dial our local curry house, so that’s what we did.
Our usual Indian takeaway of choice in Pershore is The Shunarga, a modest and seemingly permanent feature on the High Street that has been providing consistently good food for over 30 years. The relative newcomer on the High Street and in the former home of the fine dining and pretty fancy Epicurean is Jimmy Pickles. We enjoyed a lovely meal here a few months ago. There were a few twists and inventions on the menu which went down well, and the ambience was the superior of the Indian restaurants in Pershore. Now it was time to see how their food travelled…
Not wishing to overindulge, we phoned in a modest and pretty traditional order. Poppadoms with their selection of chutneys, prawn saagoa, chicken tikka karahi, lamb tikka biryani (with a veg curry) and pilau rice. Nothing out of the ordinary, just simple and traditional dishes that could provide an easy quality benchmark to judge the takeaway by. If a restaurant hits the mark on these dishes then they’re a good bet.
Poppadoms…good, crispy and fresh. The chutneys, raita and onion were all tasty too, no weird textures or unexpected flavours but one thing was missing…. where was my favourite, lime pickle?!? With a name like Jimmy Pickles I thought it would be a given but clearly not. Never mind. You may want to double up on the portions if you’re big on the chutneys as the containers were pretty small and soon get exhausted. A pretty promising start!
No starters, still trying to shift the festive fifty, so it was straight in to the main course. The lamb tikka biryani was one of the neatest looking biryanis I’ve ever seen! In that, I mean the meat, rice and herbs and spices were all perfectly present but they weren’t thoroughly stirred in and combined in to the dish. It’s a personal preference but I prefer my biryanis to feel a little more mashed up so they at least look like they’ve soaked up the stirred in spices and herbs. I think I just like them a little less neat! Its flavour reflected its perfect appearance, delicate and mild. When combined with the vegetable curry it made an enjoyable and gentle accompaniment to the other dishes. If I had one criticism regarding the taste it was that it lacked depth. Many of the takeaway and home-made biryanis I’ve tried in the past have had the subtle touch you’d expect from a rice-heavy dish but combined with, quite vitally, the trademark deep and underlying intensity of the base spice mix (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, chilli, et al). I couldn’t spot this in the Jimmy Pickles version. For ease of reference I’ll give these dishes an ‘out of ten’, lamb tikka biryani, a sound 6.5/10.
My crash test curry when I visit or take away from a new place (to me) is chicken tikka karahi. A bit like the Balti, as in the dish is named after the dish, the karahi differs from its Midlands counterpart in that it is a genuine Indian curry dish, or rather Asian (many nationalities traditionally eat from them). Smaller than a balti dish and thus making it a lot less likely to burn your hands, forearms, elbows, etc., the regions of India all have their own twists on what they think makes the perfect Karahi, for us in the UK, it’s a really tasty and typical, medium-spiced curry. We ordered ours with chicken tikka as I think the marinated meat adds an extra dimension.
Pop goes the plastic lid…the presentation was good, lovely colours, all the components were there; the meat, onions, green pepper, red pepper, all sitting in a light brown curry. All-in-all this dish was pretty good. It was about the right spiciness and you could taste the garlic and onion foundations underpinning the dish. It wasn’t too sweet or too sour, the balance of tastes was good. The texture of the curry was a little watery for us. I like a sauce that binds the herbs, spices and ghee together so the curry coats the vegetables and meat. The sauce in this curry felt separate from the meat, as if it just fell away rather than coated. The chicken tikka was tender although it tasted a little light on the marinade side of things. Chicken tikka karahi = 8/10.
Spinach and prawn are both really subtle flavours so when combining the two it’s important to get the rather fine balance spot on. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to tell whether the chef at Jimmy Pickles had achieved this balancing act as the prawn Saagoa we ordered came laced with a decent smattering of chilli powder. The result was a slight tickling sensation on the lips and a slight sizzling sensation on the palate! This was a real shame as the presentation, even in a takeaway carton, was promising, rich green colours, and we were really looking forward to seeing how they’d handle this traditionally mild and flavoursome favourite. I am fine with lashings of fresh chilli in a dish but a spoonful too many of chilli powder is a little clumsy and heavy handed for my liking. Prawn Saagoa = 5/10.
We enjoyed trying Jimmy Pickles for our Saturday night takeaway. The key ingredients seemed fresh, the herbs and spices were all clearly evident in the spectrum of flavours and the presentation was strong. Having had an enjoyable experience and tasty meal in the restaurant a few months prior, we went to pick up our food with suitably high expectations, unfortunately on this occasion the food did not travel quite as well as we hoped. A Jimmy Pickles takeaway is definitely worth trying for yourself, maybe opt for their specials over the traditional dishes, as I think that’s where their strengths may lie. I’m sure you’ll have a good winter warmer of a meal at home and a really colourful complement to the weekend. In the Pershore Indian takeaway rankings, Jimmy Pickles is just shy of top spot which I continue to reserve for the old timer down the road.
Cost: £31.05 approx. (food only)
Poppadoms with chutneys, 4 main dishes, 1 pilau rice
Pershore, Worcestershire, United Kingdom – last visited by guest writer Tom Richardson in February 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection 15th February 2016
A Pershore native living in London. On occasions my work as a TV Director allows me to film the subject I love, food. I have had the honour of working with some of the leading chefs in the UK, France and the US. Aside from the capital of the UK, I have lived in the foodie capitals of New York, Birmingham and Leicester…! I have had the privilege to sample delicacies and delights in over 30 countries and I am happy to share my views through the excellent Pershore Patty blog.
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