Jane Pikett is transported to the land of spices thanks to Ury in Newcastle
It’s a hard life, all this eating out. At least, it is for the ones I leave at home for yet another Dad Curry – a freakish alliance of ill-matched constituents which could only be dreamt up by a man who considers Vesta Chow Mein a landmark in culinary excellence.
They sit there, three angelic faces turned to me, shining with a mixture of hope and fear. Hope that tonight they will be chosen to accompany me on my adventure in food, fear that they will be left behind to make the best of whatever abomination emerges from the kitchen.
Last night, The Chosen One was particularly fortunate, blessed with a trip to Ury, newly settled on Newcastle Quayside and home to the extraordinary food of Kerala, India’s land of spices, famed for its Bounty bar beaches, its diversity, and its food, which is marked by an abundance of coconut, rice, tapioca, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger.
The dishes of Kerala are variously infused with the culinary traditions of Islam, Syrian Christianity, Hinduism, and international traders drawn here for its prized spices for many hundreds of years. This is the foodie adventurer’s paradise, and at Ury, the influence is predominantly of northern Kerala, the menu a travelogue in its own right.
It tells us, for example, that our exquisite Cheena Chatty Meen fish curry is a delicacy in Syrian Christian-populated hill areas, people thronging village bars to enjoy this dish of king fish prepared with tamarind and spices with steamed tapioca root, curry leaves, mustard seeds and grated coconut.
Half way through our evening at Ury, I lose count of the number of dishes we have tried (the photos above show a few of them). Save to say, a lot goes home for the pathetic souls we’d left behind.
Each dish brings a new serendipity – the Chicken Pakora red and hot and unlike any you’ve had elsewhere; the seafood
soup creamy and sweet with crab, prawn and coconut; the Aloo Bonda potato balls laced with fresh ginger, curry leaves, coriander and black mustard seeds, dipped and fried in chickpea flour batter and served with coconut chutney.
If you try anything here, make it Vazhuthanangha Curry – a Pattambi recipe of aubergines in a paste of roast onion, coriander seeds, chillies and tamarind, mixed with yoghurt and cashew nut sauce – and tell me it was not created by God himself.
We have a huge spiced potato dhosa which would have fed us both on its own, and despite the fact that we can’t finish, we are still given sweet rice pudding to finish. No room? Try saying that when this taste of heaven is set before you.
Ury is incredibly special – a wonderful taste of what many consider to be India’s finest foodie region run by a team who love nothing more than sharing their unadulterated joy in the produce of their homeland. A joyful experience provided in a place transformed into a corner of India’s loveliest region; a place where the sun always shines.
Queen Street, Newcastle
NE1 3UG, tel 0191 232 7799