By Ellie Philpotts
(The longer version of this is in the current print issue of Quench, also at https://issuu.com/gairrhydd/docs/quench_162)
If you moved to Cardiff expecting your diet to shift to solely Welsh Rarebit, cawl and Bara Brith, it wouldn’t take long to realise this isn’t the case. While it is fair to say that traditional Welsh grub is easy to find in Cardiff – highlights being Fabulous Welshcakes at the Bay; Seasons nestled in Castle Arcade and Ffresh which calls the iconic Wales Millennium Centre home – Cardiff’s cuisine definitely doesn’t end there. So if you’re one of the university’s many international students reminiscing over the medium of food, or are keen to tour the world without making the Go Global office your second home, you’re in luck in Cardiff.
Portuguese – Sadly, Wales’ weather is worlds apart from the sunnier scenes of Portugal, but Nata & Co make a commendable effort at bridging the gap. Initially found only in the suburb of Splott, they’ve since expanded to the Bay and opposite the castle, meaning you’re never too far from their distinctive yellow decor, or, more to the point, unique treats. As one of the UK’s only Portuguese bakeries, they’re incredibly authentic – you’ll find traditional delicacies like the Pastel del Nata custard cake; Bola de Berlin cream doughnut; savoury breads and flavoursome coffees. Nata & Co are cheap, cheerful and colourful, proving that Nando’s isn’t the only Portuguese eaterie that starts with ‘Na’ and is worth visiting. When the only downside is that there’s nata single original pun to be made, except that they’re exactly what Cardiff kneaded, you know they must be good… (Image Credit: twitter.com/natacouk)
Recreate your own taste of Portugal – Nata & Co focus on the sweet, so we thought we’d switch over to the other side. (More reason to stock up at the bakery for dessert…) Here’s how to make the Portuguese Fish Casserole at home.
Ingredients – 2 pounds of salted cod; 5 large potatoes (peeled and sliced); 3 large onions (sliced); ¾ cup olive oil; 2 cloves garlic (minced); 1 tablespoon parsley (chopped); 1 ½ teaspoons pepper flakes (crushed); 1 teaspoon paprika; 3 tablespoons tomato sauce.
Recipe – Soak the cod in cold water. Drain the water, then repeat this process. Boil a large pot of water. Cook the cod for 5 mins then drain and cool. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In an 8×11 casserole dish, layer the cod, onions and half the potatoes. Top this with the remaining potatoes. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, parsley, pepper, tomato sauce and paprika. Pour this evenly over the casserole. Bake for 45 mins and voila, a hearty dinner to fuel you through those essays.
Indian – As one of the UK’s most popular cuisines, you’d be correcting in expecting Cardiff to have its fair share of Indian restaurants. Not only are they evenly dispersed throughout the city, but are collectively on the receiving end of some impressive accolades. We have Mint and Mustard in Heath, described by last year’s Harden’s Restaurant Guide as ‘first-class’; Moksh at the Bay, holders of the current Two AA Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence, and Spice Quarter in the city centre’s Brewery Quarter, named Best Indian Restaurant in Wales. Also in this issue we document our Quench Food Evening at Keralan street kitchen Chai Street. However, amid all this choice, right now we’re talking about Duchess of Delhi. (Image credit: twitter.com/duchessofdelhi)
Duchess of Delhi has the situational advantage of sitting under the stunning figure of the Wales Millennium Centre, but that’s not all they have going for them. Cardiff Bay proudly houses a range of cuisines, but here is undoubtedly a standout of the area’s culinary scene – a sentiment echoed by Trip Advisor, who recently awarded them a Certificate of Excellence. Walk in and you’ll be immersed into a welcoming atmosphere – decor is stunning, and the staff friendly and passionate. While Indian food is their focus, they manage to incorporate other South Asian flavours, including Nepalese, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Burmese. This means an impressive menu – whether a la carte if the family are visiting, or more affordable, in a range spanning from vegetarian Green Curry to dishes harder to track down, such as Jaffna Stuffed Squid and Indonesian fried noodles. Well worth making the trip out of Cathays for…
Recreate your own taste of India – The opposite of the aforementioned Nata & Co, Duchess of Delhi’s big business is mains, so here’s how to make dessert. We all have a second stomach reserved for this, don’t we?! And as the name suggests, this Carrot Halwa isn’t all unhealthy…
Ingredients – 4 carrots; 2 cups milk; 1 cup sugar; 2 tablespoons ghee; ¼ cup nuts and raisins; 2 crushed cardamom.
Recipe – Peel and grate the carrots. Heat the ghee in a small pan and fry the nuts and raisins in it. Heat the milk in a pan, then add the carrots. Cover it and cook on a medium flame, stirring regularly. After 20 minutes, when the carrots have absorbed the milk, add sugar and keep stirring. After 8 minutes, add the cardamom, nuts, raisins and ghee. Mix this all for another minute and enjoy!
Malaysian – Elsewhere in South-East Asia is Malaysia, and elsewhere in Cardiff is Canton. Combine the two and you’ll find yourself at Wok-ker Shaker. Perched on Tudor Street just underneath the loud and proud Millennium Stadium, Wok-ker Shaker compensates for its unassuming-looking decor and exterior with traditional and good-quality Malaysian fare. One of the country’s national dishes is the Nasi Lemak, which is replicated convincingly by Wok-ker Shaker – think rice, coconut milk, egg, toasted peanuts, cucumber and chicken, all for the student-friendly cost of under £4. Other much-loved meals, from seafood to vegetarian, often with a street-food feel, are in abundance at Wok-ker Shaker, which overall enjoys a positive reputation among those who’ve discovered it thanks to its ability to consistently deliver unpretentious good grub. Although Woodville Road’s newly refurbished Jalan Malaysian is closer to home in Cathays, Wok-ker Shaker doubles as an incentive to get exploring more of the city! (Image credit: twitter.com/jalanmalaysiauk)
Recreate your own taste of Malaysia – Room for pudding? Of course there is. Here’s how to whip up your very own Mashed Banana Fritters, a popular Malaysian snack that’s also considerate of your 5-a-day.
Ingredients – 2 mashed bananas; 4 tablespoons flour; 1 tablespoon rice flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons oil, 1 ½ tablespoons butter.
Recipe – Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar into a bowl. Stir in the bananas. Add oil to a medium-heated pan. Place a tablespoon of banana into the pan and flatten it. Fry each side until medium-brown. Ideally eat warm, but they work cooler too!