Tower Tandoori, London's Oldest Tandoori Restaurant


Tower Tandoori

Tandoori Tower, London’s oldest Indian restaurant is a natural fit for the historic Tower Bridge area. When Israaf Ali lit the charcoal in their Tandoor oven, for the first time in 1978, he could never have imagined that 45 years later, the flame would still be glowing bright, and that delicious, soft, slightly charred, naans would still be peeled off from the searing walls; and that his grandson Suhel Ahmed would be at the helm of one of London’s the oldest curry-houses.

Tower Tandoori

Customers are greeted with an enticing bar with carved wood screens. The main restaurant space is gorgeous and inviting with its crimson and gold décor complementing the wood flooring, tables and the Indian artefacts. As a reviewer, I have grown accustomed to smiles and special treatment so when our waiters beamed at us and took away the menu away in favour of ‘tonight, you’ll be sampling our choice of food for you’. I was not surprised in the least. But, I was surprised to see that they were doing something similar with all of the punters. No, they don’t magically remove the menu card, but they gently encourage the guest to ensure they make the best choice for them.


Tower Tandoori Bar

The waiter at the table next to us asked if the couple would mind ordering a little less, ‘You can order more later if you want’. Whatever happened to the old, ‘Is that all, don’t you want an extra naan with that?’ which always makes me feel mean and guilty for considering the economic impact of food waste.


So now that we have established Suhel and his team as my new heros, what about the food? While the family next to us was enjoying Onion and Kale Bajis with Masala Chips, I warned you that all tastes were customised for, we savoured our Mocktails, popadoms, pickles, chutney, tamarind and raisins sauce. Following that, we were served perfectly seasoned creamy Butter Chicken, delicately spiced, Tandoori Mixed Grill, rice, and a Tarka dahl. The flavours were delicately balanced, and the ingredients were of the highest quality. 

Indian food

There is no need to be concerned about the heat from the chillis since we are either accustomed to it or the blend of Indian cuisine and western taste has finally found its stride, tasty without making your nose and eyes run. Though, I am sure that if you ordered a Naga Curry, the team would make it for you. As for me, I can’t wait for the Tower Tandoori ‘heritage menu’ to arrive next year.

Address : Tower Tandoori Restaurant - 74-76 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 4TP - 
Phone 020 7237 2247 -

Disclaimer: we were Tandoori Tower guests, I would like to thank the team for their hospitality, Words in this review are my own. 

The Botany Bay Hotel -Broadstairs-

 Owned by Shepherd Neame and renovated less than a decade ago, The Botany Bay Hotel has every quality needed for a perfect seaside escape

The name Broadstairs comes from the word Bradstow, after ‘a set of steps up the cliffs’, or it could mean Broad Place, to reflect the cress-shaped bays. Either way, the area has sweeping bays and majestic white cliffs.

Situated on a grassy clifftop, between Margate and Broadstairs, the hotel overlooks the English Channel and the North Sea. In an otherwise sparsely populated area, the hotel is perfect for a relaxing stay.

The golden sandy beach is home to beautiful ‘Chalk Stacks’ which are loved by selfie fans. However, if you are one of these people who prefer to rewind the clock of time, the bay has a history with fossil hunters; hours of fun can be had whilst spotting crabs in rock pools. Golfers flock here for the renowned North Foreland Golf Club.

The first impressions of the hotel doesn’t disappoint. The reception is a stylish open space with a popular pub on the right and a more formal restaurant on the left. Covered patios and wooden terraces skirt the whole of the building making the most of the scenery thanks to several picture windows.

Stylish rooms with mesmerising sea views

The 30 en-suite bedrooms are available to families and couples, and seven of them are dedicated to dog-owners.  In the mornings, the front of the building's grassy area is busy with people taking the opportunity to walk their furry friends.

Most rooms have sea views. It would be tedious to list all the rooms facilities, so let’s say that all the items required for a stress-free stay are present, from luggage-rack to a collection of bathroom articles. For longer stays, some of the rooms are furnished with extra large wardrobe. If something is missing, just give a call to reception, they will be happy to help. There is always a member of staff on hand to make sure that all is running smoothly or just give a warm smile.

We stayed in suite 601,
a feature room with sea view, up up and up the stairs to the top of the building, a mix of rooms, including a private balcony and observatory room to take advantage of the amazing 360 degrees views.

Our suite was comfortable, the walls were painted in muted seaside colours and the lounge was perfect for a Nespresso coffee break. We also had a comfy super king bed with crispy white sheets. We didn’t make use of the smaller room with its two beds but it was well appointed too. A porthole window in the bathroom with a stand alone bath and a great shower room complete the picture.

Of course, not all of the 30 rooms are as spacious as the one we stayed in, but from what I could see peaking in, whilst admiring the art on the staircase, all rooms all look equally comfortable, and more importantly spotless.

What about the food?

The restaurant was very busy that night, it was a bit understaffed but everyone put in their best effort. Breakfast at The Botany Bay Hotel is excellent- there is a buffet with lots of fruit, toast and cereal, plus a comprehensive cooked full breakfast menu, name it, the chef will prepare it for you.

Eggs Benedictine is the acid test for me. I can think of too many hotels where I’ve had eggs Benedict that were cooked to perfection. It’s a difficult dish to get right and the chef at the Botany nailed it. Perfect breakfast with perfect views, there’s no much else to add.

The location:

There is a large car park outside the hotel but if you’ve opted for a no-car visit there are a few ways to get to Botany Bay. With a bit of time and not too much luggage, the best option is the scenic walk along the sea either from Margate or Broadstairs. While in the area, you might want to check out the Viking coastal foot path, so that's the opportunity to do so. The Loop connects Margate to Broadstairs, the nearest bus stop is 20 minutes walk away. Taxis are available too. or : these two websites contain up-to-date information on a wide selection of topics and a activities calendar.


Botany Bay Hotel, Marine Drive, Broadstairs, CT10 3LG -phone 01843868641

Room Prices depend on the season. Double rooms start at £108 with breakfast included

Disclaimer: I would like to thank Thanet Tourism Officer and the Botany Bay for giving me the opportunity to stay. Words and pictures are my own.

Proms in the park - August 23

 After a long long absence Pebble Soup is back with bells and whistles. Violins and sambals to be more precise. This bank holiday weekend, I've been invited to the BBC Proms in Battersea Park . Three evenings of music by world famous musicians. And, who knows Pebble Soup may inspire to come to.   

Starting on the 26 August with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra offering a Night at the Musicals, followed by the Proms with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra on Sunday leading to the closing night dedicated to Soul & Jazz on the 28th.

It's a first for Battersea Park and it's a first for Pebble Soup too. Hope to see you there?


Copper Chimney -Westfield- Restaurant Review

I would go around the world to eat an excellent Indian meal. Thankfully, the first UK venture of Copper Chimney is in Westfield, and with the promise of unforgettable Indian food, the trek to West London didn't seem that long. The restaurant is situated on the pedestrian parade dedicated to food outlets, with its prominent simple but stylish double C logo -does that remind you of another brand?- Copper Chimney stands out.

The first Copper Chimney opened in 1972 in Bombay. Its founder JK Kapur aimed at recreating culinary experiences reminiscent of his years growing up, before the Partition, in what is now modern-day Pakistan. When I first travelled, I was aiming for Cairo, just to land in Karachi.... a long story. My experience of this eastern megapolis stayed with me forever, the smell of Ustads -spice blends- the tandoors, every mouthful eaten was a voyage of discovery. Decades later,  I can definitely say that Copper Chimney's offer is the closest to authentic that you'll get. The Assistant Manager, Kevin Podder, was very proud of the recipes' consistency across their 15  locations.  And this, although commendable, was my problem: the dishes lacked the 'mistakes', the 'happy accidents, the too much of this or the wrong that' that land in a dish often uninvited and makes that plate of food really unforgettable.


Having said this, there is nothing wrong with tried and tested signature dishes and that was reinforced by the restaurant's popularity. It was filling up when we arrived and full when we left. The open kitchen where you can see the chefs operating the tandoors adds a little bit of theatre to the place which is bright and cheerful and expertly designed. After listening to the recommendation from our impeccable waiter, He opted for Chandni Chowk Chaat for starters and I chose a plate of  Okra Kurkure. 

His hors d'oeuvre was delicious, pungent spices and smooth fresh yoghurt layers were an instant hit. Chaat is a great street food that deserves much more recognition. The Okras were nicely fried and crispy. I never tried to slice an okra bean; I'd love to know how they can be julienned these slippery little lady's fingers so very thinly. The end result was not unpleasant: a mouthful of hot and tangy spices that married very well with his Chaat. And as they say, it's nice to share! which is what I was trying to convince him of when the mains arrived.

Copper Chimney Tandoori

Grilled Burrah Chop for me, Tandoori Chicken for him. The cinnamon scent preceded the lamb dish, this might be the most expensive dish on the menu at £23.50 but it was really nice indeed. The lamb chops are marinated in a secret mix of spices for eight hours before being seared and then chargrilled. One way to spot Copper Chimney specialities is to look for the CC logo, on the menu, besides the description. I found this out as I was virtually licking my fingers when a sudden attack of food envy gripped me. A plate of Parda Lamb Biryani, sealed with what looked like a lid of puff pastry, passed us by to be placed on a family's table, next to us. Back to our choice, his chicken dish was flavoured nicely, there is also a version of grilled chicken with mint on the menu that looked tempting.....Oh no! here I go again.

Copper Chimney chicken tandoori

To Kevin's disappointment, we passed on desserts. Retroactively we were not prepared enough for Copper Chimney, my advice would be to study the menu online first. However familiar you are with Indian food, the restaurant's choice is vast and varied, preferably opt for signature dishes. We were guests of Copper Chimney, otherwise, our meal would have cost around £65, this is not a budget place but Copper Chimney is well worth it if you happen to be at Westfield.

Copper Chimney spread Copyright Copper Chimney

Practicalities:  Copper Chimney -Ariel Way - White City, London W12 7GA, 
+44 20 8059 4439,              website:

No bake, Vegan Chocolate Tart


Chocolate tart,

Some plans are never going to happen, creating an impromptu gift guide with 12 entries and no preparation was a bad-bad idea. That doesn't mean that something else wonderfully useful can't happen instead. 

It's the time of the year when it's so easy to be a little over-ambitious, just to realise that there will be no time left for making that showstopper dessert you had planned a month ago. So, let's scale down and with the help of the first-ever GBBO, Edd Kimber, create a dessert that will be loved by all, vegan included.

I'm a great fan of chocolate mousse but, the attraction of this recipe is that it takes no time to make, no pastry to take care of, no baking with all the anxieties that brings. Aren't no plan the best plans after all?

Merry Christmas 

No-Bake Chocolate Tarts

Recipe created in partnership with recipe creator Edd Kimber and Lizi's 


175g Lizi’s Original Granola (other granola are available)

80g coconut oil, room temperature


265g dark chocolate, finely chopped

50g light brown sugar

115ml almond milk* (*you can use any plant-based milk for this recipe but almond or coconut milk both have flavours that can complement chocolate)


  1. To make the crust place about 2/3 of the Granola into a food processor and process until fine and crumbly.

  2. Add in the remaining granola, the oil and salt and process until everything is evenly combined and the mixture is clumped together. Divide this mixture equally between four loose-bottomed 10cm tart tins and press firmly into the base and up the sides of the tin. 

  1. Place the tart cases in the fridge whilst you work on the ganache. 

  2. Place the chocolate into a bowl and set it aside. Add the almond milk and sugar to the pan on medium heat and gently heat until just steaming.

  3. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and set aside for a couple minutes before stirring with a whisk until a silky smooth ganache is formed.

  4. Pour the ganache into the chilled tart cases and place them into the fridge until the ganache has set, which will take at least a couple of hours. 

  5. Serve with a little vegan whipped cream or sour cream if you're not vegan. Kept refrigerated these will keep for 3-4 days. 

Gail's Bakery Kits for your Baking Friends

 Very belatedly, I decided to share with you, presents ideas for Christmas. I thought of calling this series the Twelve Days of Christmas. But, reading about the history of the Twelve Days, I found out that they are not these leading to Christmas day but rather those following it, ending with the arrival of the 3 wise kings on Epiphany, the 6 of January. 

Change of name was necessary and there you have it, the series is now called Pebble Soup's Advent Calendar. Today we are gifting our Baking Friends. 

During lockdown one, in 2020, when the hospitality industry was struggling like mad to find a way to survive, we witnessed the first of the '.... in a box'. My very own first was a French Christmas in a Box and I was definitely impressed. 

Baking kits are far from new. Many of us recall making our first biscuits, cakes, and flans 'out of a box', the modern twist involves recreating a chef recipe with lush ingredients, here 23% dark chocolate, 11% dark couverture chocolate. What baker wouldn't like such a pressie?

The Chocolate and Pecan Gail's Brownie Baking Kit make 20 gooey squares, I've not made mine yet but head towards the #gailsbrownies page on Instagram to see some examples. Order online or by phone and collect from your nearest Gail's bakery. The kit cost £18. My devious mind tells me that it could easily make four or five lovely bags .....just don't pass the creations for yours....if you can help it.

See you in a couple of days with a present for your Vegan Baker friends.

Disclaimer: I was given a kit as a kit but received no further remuneration to write this post.  I was not expected to write a positive review – I retain full editorial control.

Review : Lasagneria Italiana at Number One Royal Exchange Buildings London

With 17 hand-crafted lasagne recipes by Chef Antonio Sanzone, at Lasagneria Italiana, there is no shortage of seasonal options to try.

 is a French word to express the sensation dinners have when well provided with food and are very relaxed. And replète I was, after my visit to the newly opened Lasagneria Italiana, situated in the heart of the -old- City of London, at number one Royal Exchange Buildings. 

copyright and authorisation by Lasagneria
courtesy of Lasagneria Italiana

Prior to my visit, I had never heard of a Lasagneria and to my knowledge, this restaurant dedicated to lasagne is a first in London -Mister Lasagna, around the corner, is one of the same company- 

Expect lasagne filled with scented black truffles from Piedmont; crispy onion toppings in a nod to Genoa, the obligatory spicy N'duja from Calabria and from around Milan, the creamy blue-veined deliciousness that is Gorgonzola cheese.  

Contemporary twists on the classic dish that hails originally from Naples include a salmon and avocado lasagna, a big breakfast version fully loaded with a fried egg and sausage. Vegan and vegetarian options are available. They even have dessert-lasagne filled with Nutella and topped with chantilly cream. In case you are wondering, we ate that too!

Every deliciousness is bought to your table in attractive individual ceramic dishes, also called 'lasagna'. At first it's confusing, but it becomes easy when you know that the pasta dish is called 'lasagne' and not 'lasagna' which is the word for a single sheet of pasta or the cooking pot. Got it?

What should you expect from Lasagneria Italiana?

The décor: Italian elegance, everything screams 'Bellissima, from the water glasses to the clean-lined geometrical design on the wall via the copper chandeliers. 

It was heart-warming to see Chef Sanzone in attendance. I like the open kitchen, for me it's an extra touch bringing the punters and the kitchen staff together. There is a terrace outside with a canopé, heaters and I wouldn't let it pass the staff to provide blankets.

The service: Youssef Hayaya, our dedicated waiter, had one aim only that evening and it was to make sure that we were happy and comfy. Observing the team at work was a delight, they hover around never drawing attention to themselves, always being there when needed. Fast and efficient which is a plus when it comes to the busy lunch service.

The food: 

The starters are almost as intriguing as the lasagne. We started with an arancino, an orange-shaped risotto ball stuffed with mozzarella and speckled with bolognese. Followed by focaccia and olives, although I was not a great fan of the former, the olives were amazing. I learned that they were grown for their size and not their oil content. They were gigantic....for olives, and pleasantly dry on the surface. Perfect for early evening customers who can enjoy a cocktail and a snack to share before heading home.

You know what they say about a picture and a thousand words, the following is a case in point:

To make sure that we were doing the job properly we both ordered a trio of lasagne, thin layers of pasta, melting in the mouth, delicious fillings. The portions are generous but don't worry, you can take home what you can't finish. My recommendation would be Tartufo Nero, Ragu of British beef mince with mixed mushrooms and Black truffle paste, bechamel sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese....and probably stick to one dish rather than the trio. Having said that trios are fun.

The other nice surprise are the price tags, the lasagne dishes start at £8, a trio is £12. Very reasonable for a tasty and delightful experience. Check the menu here and in Youssef's words, 'enjoy and relax'.

Details: 1A Royal Exchange Buildings, London, EC3V 3LF
Phone: 020 7929 1212

Humble Poire Belle-Hélène meets Flamboyant Gelato

We are all familiar with images of poached pears, fragrant with winter spices and standing proud on a sweet reduction of red wine, such as the one pictured in The Guardian by the talented Felicity Cloake.

Poached pears – just perfect. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian
Picture by Felicity Cloake

The name 'Poire Belle-Hélène' is intriguing enough, one could imagine that the creator of this glistening dessert was an admirer of a beautiful lady called Hélène
 but, this is far from being the case. The reality is far more prosaic: renowned restaurateur and recipe developer, Auguste Escoffier, 19th century, was commissioned a dessert for Jacques Offenbach's satirical operetta La Belle-Hélène which premiered in Paris in 1864. The dish was simply named to promote the operetta that told the story of Helen of Troy. No secret love affair, but a job to do and a job well done as this dessert looks opulent, taste delicious, and can be made easily...and cheaply, as I found out.

Not always inclined to use red wine in cooking because cheap wine, even when reduced to the maximum. I decided to replace it with a fruit syrup leftover from cooking apples, but a light sugar syrup will do nicely. To give it its colour, I used the juice of half a pomegranate. In spite of looking like a pear recently run over by a train at high speed, the result tasted delicious.... partly due to the gelato.

To complement this dish, I used two Hackney Gelato flavours: Mince Pie and Chocolate (the latter for the less adventurous member of Pebble Soup HQ). The brand was created six years ago by a couple of chefs who met at the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli. They make everything in their East London kitchen and won 22 Great Taste Stars in the last three years. Their beginnings were a little bumpy but they now provide gelati and sorbets to restaurants and supermarkets. Consumers can be found tubs of Hackney Gelato, in Tesco and Waitrose. In my opinion, this is a brand to watch.

Poire Belle-Hélène in Sugar Syrup

How to make a sugar syrup for this recipe?

Dissolve 80g caster sugar in 350ml water over low heat. 
Add cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, peppercorn, pick one or any combo, personally, I like cinnamon and peppercorn. 
If you want to get the colour closer to wine replace the water with pomegranate juice.
Once dissolved, peel the pears and cut them in half, then add them to the syrup and simmer until the fruits are tender, it could take up to 30 minutes.
Serve cooled with a topping of your choice.

The traditional method using red wine requires 700ml of wine for 125 gr sugar



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