Hector is in Heraklion en route to Santorini where I spotted a Curry House last visit. There are reportedly two Curry Houses in Heraklion, Curry Park (Chandakos 58, Iraklio 712 02 Crete) is in by far the more convenient location being metres from the coast, Bus Station, Ferry Port and my hotel for this evening. The Taj Mahal is on the western extremity of the city in Hersonissos. Curry Park is also open all day which means I was able to eat late afternoon.
Arriving at 17.00, I studied the Menu on display outside. A Young Waitress came out to greet me.
Do you have Good Curry here? – I offered as my opening gambit.
All our Curry is good – was the reply.
Communication, the name of the game.
Both entrances were wide open, I chose a small table in the shade, the Waitress brought the bound Menu. Mein Host stood behind the counter, a Lady dressed for the kitchen stood at the kitchen door. Seventeen Curry variants were on offer plus Biryani. Glancing at the Starters, I flirted with the idea of Lamb Chops (€5.00). Sami Kebab (€5.00) tempted too, unusual to see this. Unbelievably, I tend to eat less in the heat, not that I consider 32ºC to be oppressive.
The possibility of a decent Lamb Karahi (€7.50) became fixed in my mind, especially given what was – not – in the description. I have done well for Curry this week in Crete. Glancing through all seventeen Curry Dishes, only the Jalfrezi description mentioned – Peppers. The Vegetable Fried Rice (€3.00) looked like good value, as long as… Regular Readers will know the efforts I go to to avoid – The Dreaded Green Ballast.
The Waitress approached, I pointed to the description of the Jalfrezi.
This is the only Curry which says it has Peppers. I don’t want these, so can you confirm that the Lamb Karahi does not.
She was tentative, however, she took the Order.
I’ll have to ask – was the caveat. Why didn’t she know?
Vegetable Fried Rice please, again without Peppers. Chillies are fine, but no Capsicum.
Today, I felt that Sparkling Water (€1.50 for 250ml) was better value than the Bier (€2.50 for 350ml). I had previously engaged Mein Host, still behind the counter, to check on the size of the Bier Bottles. The Waitress was unsure if they had Sparkling Water.
The Order was complete, the Waitress went to the counter, the three players presumably discussed my requirements. I called across to Mein Host.
No Peppers, in anything. Do you have Methi/Fenugreek?
He told me Methi is difficult to get, even in India it is only available when in season. I was hardly going to argue, Frozen Methi cannot have reached the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, yet. He then told me he had – Dry Methi Leaves. I asked if some could be added. He assured me that the Methi was already in. This was promising.
Some were sat outside, but nobody was dining. I could hear children’s voices but paid little attention. I counted twenty six chairs inside the restaurant, I could not see how many more there were outside. There is a balcony above the counter with a few more tables. I wondered how often these could be called into use.
Was it her first day?
The Waitress brought the Lamb Karahi and Rice. The simple task of placing them on the table appeared to be a challenge. I could see Mein Host watching. No comment was made.
The Lamb Karahi was more – Soup-like – than any Karahi should be served, how did this – thick sauce– differ from the Masala in their other Curry Dishes? I may never know. Hang on, what are these Red and Green Slimy Slivers in the Masala? I called over the Waitress.
I thought I had made it clear there should be no Peppers in this Curry?
She looked back, smiled, with an air of, well what do you want me to do about it?
Mein Host had just stepped out, so there was no point sending it back. What had not been understood? I shook my head and hoped my facial expression displayed my displeasure. Many a pupil has seen this look…
The Rice was more than enough for one person. Shredded Carrots stood out along with White Slivers, Potato! There was something Slimy too, surely not… ah, Aubergine, forgiven. Cabbage, strips of Cabbage, that’s different. Whilst the Rice appeared to offer Diversity, the Vegetables were not that – Interesting – and added little to the Overall Flavour.
I counted eight not particularly – Large – pieces of Meat, which were Tender enough. The Meat was carefully decanted making sure that none of the Dreaded Ballast ended up on my plate, oops. Spooning the Masala was more difficult until I forced the Capsicum to the top end of the Karahi and employed gravity to have the Masala drain through the Mush.
The Blended Masala was Well Seasoned which was the first truly positive feature of this Lamb Karahi. The Spice Level was so – bottom of the Scale – one had to wonder in what respect was this – Curry and not just a – Lamb Stew. Had the Waitress asked about – Level of Spice? No!
The Overall Flavour was marred by a sense of – Soapiness. This I believe was coming from the Cabbage. Who puts Cabbage in Curry? Where was the Methi?
This Lamb Karahi was Poor. One has to accept that even in the UK, some Restaurants don’t know what they are doing. Across Europe I am hesitant about ordering this Dish, too often a – Stir Fry covered in – you know what. At least this was trying to be a Curry.
€12.00 (£10.53) I was keen to see The Bill, to see what notes had been taken. I was shocked to the point of becoming enraged when I saw nothing extra. So exactly what had the Waitress understood? What information had she relayed to Mein Host and the Lady Chef? For the second time this week I question the merits of employing Useless Girlies who do not know about that which they serve.
Still, it was the cheapest meal I have had this week.
The Calling Card was given to the Waitress who appeared to come alive, she said she would look at Curry-Heute. One is left to speculate as to what chance the card being shown to Mein Host?
I wonder what the Taj Mahal is like?