A Driving Instructor's Blog

Food

If you, too, are sick and tired of going to KFC branches – only to end up waiting for ages as the one person serving deals with the spotty-faced berk in front who insists on having something complicated that isn’t on the menu – try this recipe. I found it on the Internet and it actually tastes better than KFC and is much more crispy (and that’s something else: they claim KFC is crispy, but it is always soggy).

No one is saying this is how they make it in KFC branches. KFC use pressure fryers to cook their chicken, and these are expensive (and big). The purpose here is to cook something that tastes good.

  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • ½tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1tbsp Dried Parsley
  • ½tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1tbsp Celery Salt
  • ½tsp Dried Sage
  • ½tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 3tbsp Monosodium Glutamate

You can leave out the last item (MSG) if it worries you. Put all the items in a clean, dry box or polythene bag and mix together by shaking. If you have the ingredients to hand, it takes less than 5 minutes to make the dry mix.

Now, take your chicken pieces (it works with chicken breast or chicken portions – just make sure they aren’t huge otherwise they won’t cook properly). The best thing to do is marinate them overnight in buttermilk, but you can also dip them in beaten egg. Then roll them in the dry mix. (do them in small batches otherwise the coating powder gets all wet). If you want, you can dip them in buttermilk or egg wash again and coat them a second time.

Deep fry at 180ºC until golden brown.

Try it! It really is good. It isn’t like authentic Southern Fried Chicken – but neither is KFC. But it does taste very much like KFC.

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I don’t know why I bother! KFC has to be the most badly run outfit on the planet. I’ve had repeated problems getting served in various local branches, but his is what happened in one branch over the last 7 days.

Visit #1

I went in and, since there was only one person there, I decided to try and order something (if there is a queue of any length then you’re looking at a 30 minute wait at best). I stood and waited. The primate serving stood in front of the hot trays and fiddled with something. Then she waddled over to the till and pushed something. Then she waddled back to the hot trays… and immediately waddled all the way back around the other side of the hot trays. Then she waddled back to the front. All this time not one item of food was touched or ended up in the box that was presumably assembled for the customer’s order. Meanwhile, in the background, the half dozen acne collections around the back were busy staring up at screens and merrily serving the constant flow of pratmobiles that frequent the drive-thru. After several minutes I just walked out.

Visit #2

I went in and there was no one in the queue at all. I know from experience this is no guarantee of being served quickly. Anyway, after about a minute a young girl came up. There was no verbal communication, but the eye contact suggested she wanted to take my order. I said :”Can I have a Bargain Bucket… “, but before I could finish she put her finger up and in broken English said “one minute… ” I said “Isn’t anything ready? “, and she said again “one minute… ” I just said “thanks ” and walked out.

Visit #3

I went in and there were two youths in front of me. One was eating a burger (there is a Burger King across the road) and sucking on a milkshake. The primate serving appeared to open one of those little envelopes for fries, then made some sort of gesture, then waddled all the way round the back of the hot trays, did something else with a paper envelope, looked around, then waddled round the front again. I said to the couple who had come in behind me: “this is going to take hours, again “, and walked out.

Visit #4

I finally got served almost immediately. Before I did, I asked the guy who was serving: “I want a 16 piece Bargain Bucket – is there enough food ready to have that immediately? ” He said “Yes “. I said: “OK. I’ll have one, and can I have three large beans instead of fries? ” “No problem “, he said, and took my £14.99. This was too easy… He filled the bucket, then a minute or two later came back and said “the beans are going to be about 5 minutes. Is that OK? ” Aaaargh! About 10 minutes later I finally got out with my food. While I was waiting I counted about 7 chavs in pratmobiles driving out of the drive-thru.

Seriously, KFC is a waste of space. It’s managed and run by idiots. The car park is a pig sty – bags, boxes, and food everywhere. It’s usually full of chavs in pratmobiles with there chavette girlfriends. One was there last night changing a wheel (and getting in the way of everyone else). There are broken Stella bottles everywhere. The “One Way” and “No Entry” lane markings are totally ignored. The speed limit in the car park must be the same as on the 40mph road outside judging by the way they drive in there. And so on.

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I like eggs!

In all the years I’ve been eating them I have never come across a bad one. Well, not until recently. Oh, I’d heard of them – but I’d never encountered one myself.

EggsFor the last few years I’ve been eating free-range eggs. And I mean proper free-range ones: bought from a farm shop down in Wiltshire. I must have bought tens of dozens, and I had still never encountered a bad one.

Then, a couple of months ago, I bought 2 dozen and as I’d got to the last few one of them turned out to be bad. It was green inside, and the smell was indescribable.

Not to be put off, the last time I went past the farm I bought another 3 dozen. Big mistake: about a quarter of them appear to be bad. In fact, the one I cracked last night had a noticeable flat side to the egg shell. I guessed it was going to be odd before I’d cracked it.

It doesn’t half put you off.

I’m down that way again this week, so I’ll nip in and find out if they have a problem with their hens. Seems weird that after so many hundreds there should all of a sudden be such a high rate of bad ones.

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There’s a new page (see the top button bar). I love curry, and it has been a lifelong ambition to be able to make them like they do in resturants and takeaways.

A lot of so-called ‘Indian’ restaurants are crap. They’re not ‘Indian’ (and by that I also mean they’re not ‘Bangladeshi’ or ‘Pakistani’, etc. either) and they don’t make their own food. The worst ones I’ve found are those which advertise ‘currys (sic), pizzas, SFC, kebabs, burgers’. The curry comes in a plastic tray with a heat-sealed plastic film, just like those you buy in the supermarket freezer chests, and it tastes like the stuff you get in works canteens – boiled and creamy. Other restaurants are genuine, but they just cook awful food. One of the problems is the stupid modern idea that any salt at all is bad for you – salt is a flavour enhancer and taking it out of food means the food tastes bland (Mini Cheddars – those little cheese biscuits – are a good example: taking the salt out means they taste horrible; and the same is true of crisps (potato chips), and McDonald’s fries).

Over the last couple of months I’ve been to four Nottingham restaurants which in the past have provided good food: The Curry Lounge, Sapna, the Mogal e-Azam, and The Laguna.

The Curry Lounge was featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (a UK TV series about failing restaurants, which Ramsay was trying to help). I’d not been before until about a month ago (my friend had, and reported that it was good), and I will never go again. Apart from being stupidly overpriced the curry was completely tasteless. It was just as if the chef had forgotten to put any curry powder/spices in (and I’m not exaggerating). We mentioned it to the waiter and he said: “I can see you know about curry. Next time you are in just ask for it to be made a little more tasty. Some people don’t like it too spicy” . Well, let them go and buy fish & chips, then. And don’t get me started on the Gulab Jamun – you got two Gulabs, a scoop of ice-cream about the size of a walnut, and an extra £5 on the bill!

I’ve been to the Sapna a lot of times. It’s cheap and cheerful – plastic tablecloths, peeling plaster and wallpaper in the corners (well, it is in a basement) – but the food has always been good enough for after a concert or few drinks. The added benefit is that it is open until around 4am (one year we’d been out celebrating New Year and we went for a curry in here at about 3am on New Years Day morning). This time is was awful, though. My friend had Mulligatawny Soup as a starter and it was like a mousse rather than a soup. He commented that they appeared to have used their basic curry gravy to make everything. His daughter’s Vindaloo looked and tasted like my Chicken Methi. Both were creamy.

The Mogal e-Azam always seems to be hit and miss. It’s right next to Rock City, so it is convenient, but I find that if there aren’t many people in the food is rubbish. Last time we went in my mate, who’d come down from Leeds, eventually (I could kill him over how long it takes him to decide to order something which usually isn’t on the menu) went for a tandoori lamb starter. It was basically several lamb chops coated in tandoori spices and cooked, presumably, in a Tandoor – although I think a more appropriate description would have been geriatric mutton coated in Superglue, dipped in tandoori spices bought at Tesco, and incinerated using an industrial blowtorch. It was tough.

I used to know someone who was almost violently of the opinion that The Laguna was the best Indian restaurant in Nottingham. Well, I’ve been in a few times and although it has not been what you would call bad, it certainly isn’t the best one I’ve been to. This time was no exception. The first thing that struck me was that you couldn’t smell anything that reminded you you were in a curry house – and there were quite a few people in. The lack of smell, combined with the fact that the waiter who greeted us was Oriental, made me think it wasn’t an Indian any more! The curry was passable, though definitely lacking a bit in flavour. But the naan breads were a joke – my garlic naan was only slightly larger than a DVD disk, and you know how much you pay for sundries when you are eating-in.

Although I haven’t been in for ages, one which used to be excellent was The Jewel In The Crown in West Bridgford (now called The Jewel). It used to be classic: subdued lighting, flock wallpaper, Indian music in the background, heavy wooden chairs, and great food. But they ruined it by trying to go ‘contemporary’. You need sunglasses even walking past it. EDIT 01/04/2010: The Jewel has closed down as of the last month or so. Not sure why, but if I was guessing I’d say it went to far with its change of image. A bog-standard Indian restaurant which serves great food will always survive – a poncey one which messes with the food too much and creates ridiculous overheads it has to pay for probably won’t.

As far as takeaways go two of the best around here have to be Curry2Night (West Bridgford: telephone 0115 981 1712 ) and New Everest Tandoori (Ruddington: telephone 0115 984 8358 ). I added the phone numbers because of the hits this page keeps getting – I suspect people are wanting to order takeaways and finding this blog!

But as I said right at the start, it has always been my ambition to be able to make curries like they do in restaurants. The Bangladeshi guy who used to own Curry2Night – and he and his wife had to have been the best chefs ever – promised me he would show me before he retired, but he never did. So I’ve spent a lot of time trying out different things, some of which has been given to me by pupils, whilst others I’ve picked up off the Internet and trialled/modified as needed.

The result  (so far – it’s always a work in progress) can be found in the Curry Recipe section (that new button at the top of the page).

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