A cold and blustery mid-week March evening could not make for a more perfect cosy night in, with a film on the television snuggled up on the sofa and curry takeaway from the local restaurant. I moved from Haddenham in Buckinghamshire just over four years ago now, and used to frequent the village restaurants before moving to Wendover a dozen miles away. I had never eaten from Jeera which is just down the road in the village of Stone, but I had heard some good feedback from friends and family so thought that tonight I’d give it a go.
Being a life-long vegetarian I have developed my survival plan that I employ for every Indian restaurant that I visit, I simply ask for the house vegetable curry side dish to be served as a main; as in the past I’ve made the mistake of ordering a dry curry which was literally just spice and powder over rice and boiled vegetables, I’ve had a sweet sickly curry that tasted like a sloppy cake had fell into my dinner, one that was more like gravy rather than a curry sauce or paste, and colour ways ranging from pale yellow, orange and bright red to tree bark burnt brown in taste, flavour, heat and texture. But with the house vegetable side as a main I’ve realised that you really can’t go wrong.
Placing my order by telephone I chose the Mixed Vegetable Curry as a main for £6.95, with Mushroom Rice at £3.50, a single portion of three Onion Bhaji’s for £2.95, 2 Plain Papadum’s at £1.40 and a Garlic Nan bread for £2.50, which with free home delivery made the total cost of dinner just £17.30. Please note that the spellings of the food have been taken directly from Jeera’s takeaway menu as I have seen hundreds of ways to spell popadaum’s and always call nan bread naan personally. Just forty minutes later the doorbell rang and I was greeted by a friendly delivery driver whom I paid for the meal in cash.
Eagerly taking my bright orange, glossy Jeera takeaway bag of food into the kitchen, I carefully lifted out the foil dishes, bags and tubs onto the draining board of the sink so that I could unwrap my food and plate it up without making a mess or staining the work surface. Often when I’ve had Indian takeaways in the past, as the food is transported sauce and oil can leak down the sides of the containers, turning the bag bright yellow or orange and translucent with grease. But with tonights takeaway there was not a drop spilt, no watery oil in the top of the containers and not a patch of grease in sight on any of the packaging which has to be a first!
I like to arrange all of my food onto one plate and nibble at a little bit of everything as I go along, and I therefore totally abandon the concept of a starter, main and dessert and simply go in fork first, much like the traditional thali which is a plate divided into several compartments for curry, rice, bread, dips and a sweet. The vegetable curry was just beautiful, with a medium heat and a mild tomato base, I adored biting into the large textured vegetables that had been cooked just enough to be soft, but not overdone so that they become an anonymous mush when you chew. The sauce was thick and juicy, coating the curry perfectly without leaving a greasy film behind on the white plate and cutlery, and the mushroom rice was fluffy, flavoursome and fresh. Just what I like to see.
Although I had ordered just the one portion of onion bhaji’s, I received three in a paper bag that were each about the size of a generous golf-ball. The batter was seasoned, light and crisp with juicy white onion that melted in the mouth in a bittersweet dance between fresh and fried. I very rarely eat fried foods, but onion bhaji’s and popadaum’s are my absolute weakness and exception to the rule. I just can’t get enough of that gorgeously addictive oiled crunch as you bite through the surface and awaken childhood memories of chip shops and sweet doughnuts, yum. I also had two small pots of dip with a refreshing mint yogurt and a spicy tomato salsa which I dipped my popadaums and naan into sparingly.
The naan bread was light, fluffy and beautifully chewy as I held it in one hand and took a bite alongside a fork full of curry and bhaji and the combination of textures and flavour was divine. I’ve never seen a bright green garlic paste used before, but the flavour was nicely punchy and it really complimented my mild vegetable curry main. I’ve often found with curry that it can be uncomfortably filling and make you feel sickly if you’ve eaten too much, but my vegetarian takeaway from the Jeera was mild, pleasant and went down extremely well. I finished every last drop and was left nicely content after, washing it down with a glass of cool water and a sleepy nap on the sofa.
I played it safe with my order by choosing a classic that I know I prefer, ensuring that it wouldn’t be too spicy nor too plain, as each restaurant and chef differs it’s not surprising that you can have good and bad experiences with the very same dish from different venues. I found my vegetarian takeaway from the Jeera to be extremely palatable, moreish and well priced and I’d be inclined in future to order new sides dishes I’ve not tried to see if I’d have them as a main. They offer the incentive of a discount should you collect your takeaway yourself, but in my opinion the free delivery is a bonus that not many restaurants provide due to the volume of orders placed. If you’ve eaten at Jeera please feel free to leave your comments below and let me know what you thought, as well as any dishes you would recommend.
You can find Jeera at 39 Oxford Road, Stone, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP17 8PD, telephone 01296 748634, or view the menu online, and they are open seven days a week including bank holidays.