to start, a brief pre-amble:
i) it felt particularly awkward writing this, because i go so often. with experiences ranging from fine to great-heights, no particular time felt appropriate discussing the aspects of the place based off a singular, recent visit.
as of writing (19/12/2013), the hadramout on walmer st east (inbetween camel one and Kebabish: Thrill Of The Grill) has finally produced a new leaflet that doubles for a menu. whilst no individual bar the owner could ever honestly applaud this decision, fuck it, it seems bitterly unsavvy for places on the much-lauded curry mile to do Sea Bass meals for £7, for example. prices like that evoke memories of tony blair lionising arjan de zeeuuw on motd and carling-sponsored music festivals where the darkness are second-night headliners on medium-sized stages.
hadramout's thing is that it's a yemeni place, which is deeply unusual in the curry mile, in manchester and in britain. the neighbouring city of salford has had a yemeni community for generations based around the docker's neighbourhoods; esteemed salfordian alex mcelroy informs me that there is indeed some takeaways in salford with yemeni leanings. for the uninformed (ie me before june), yemeni food finds similarities in north african cuisine; all the predictable chicken and lamb dishes with really moist cinnamon-boiled rice with accompanying salads are to be found on the menu. the drinks are to be expected in any curry mile arab cafe - cans of coke and shani, bottles of water, and so on.
this all sort of feels boring and stodgy to even mention given that the fahsa and salta are on the menu. these things, i have gathered, are the national dishes of yemen. during a miserable summer month which saw the hadramout closed for renovation i desperately sought out a fahsa recipe online, and found a couple from yemeni recipe websites that brim with unabashed pride and crude picture documentation of the food and the process involved in creating it. my pitiful stab at the recipe is utterly irrelevent. any attempt at what the yemeni makes is totally shameful imitation - their fahsa, which is a boiling clay pot of lamb so stringy that it had been clearly cooked for hour after hour, tomato, fenugeek, garlic and various spices, kills sooo much.
i have absolutely no reference point for this food, given that its not really like anything i've ever tasted. it's bloody exciting, y'know! so much so that i've barely explored the other stuff on the leafletmenu but the muqalqal (formerly £3.50. probably now £3.95) is a rad dish consisting of miniscule cut up peppers, unusual spices and delicately diced chicken. the fasoolia is also of the same price and is some pretty mysterious kidney bean dish with some tomatoes, mild spices and a weird charcoaly taste which is pretty, pretty, pretty special. scraniverse king-pin heath linn is investigating the fasoolia for its taste properties cuz it is really good and, sort of like the fahsa, really untraceable and uncoded in its taste. at this point i should probably add that every meal comes with some really, really gorgeous yemeni bread that is sort of a naan but much more buttery and softer. something special.
the layout of the upstairs part of hadramout encourages you to knock about and burn afternoons away, given that you can lie down and sit cross-legged on really ottoman empire sofa cushions on the floor whilst you eat. the "waiters" are more like the owners mates who bumble about in nice shirts and get you what you want; they are well-meaning and they hardly dote on you, letting you mong out a bit. this basically means that you have to go to them with your order, but that doesn't mean theres a trace of surliness from them. its pretty unusual to see anyone who isn't a young arab man there, opening up a guarantee for the appearance of people such as myself to offer vague and muted interest in each others presence and movements.
there is a stupid manchester confidential article which has a smarmy go at the place for being 'dry' (ie no alcohol) and for giving you 'too much to eat', before scurrilously attacking the curry mile. the other articles defend the same old turgid northern quarter suited-guy money houses so, of course, disregard that, they are total shondes. go off punk rock bands RANK/XEROX, Hanna Cash and Baader Brains whose members have solidly rated their yemeni after a ramadan-time manchester gig R/X played. a waiter at hadramout was actually upstairs at the venue, and after being pretty chuffed at being spotted as 'the guy from the yemeni' he hung out busting jokes for ages and buying drinks, being total proof of hadramout being not only the best food in the curry mile but a committed punk lifer's option.
go to the hadramout!!!
HEATH'S FASOOLIA RECIPE
This is my interpretation of the dish I ate at the Hadramount. I used a few internet recipes as a guide, but I did not think they were totally right and didn't contain the right ingredients for the complexity of flavours in the dish. My Mum told me it's delicious but "too many kidney beans", but she holds prejudice against all beans that are not baked in tomato sauce.
450g x kidney beans, drained of brine
1 x medium onion, charcoaled & fine diced
1 x tomate, fine dice
2 x garlic cloves, crushed with salt
30g x jalapeno peppers, fine dice
1 tbsp x cayenne pepper
1 tbsp x tomato puree
2 tbsp x fresh coriander, chopped
2tbsp x Hawaij Spice Mix
3 tbsp x Coal oil (optional)
Hawaij Spice Mix Ingredients
15g x coriander seed
10g x cumin seed
10g x black pepper
8 x cardamon seeds, podded
1 tsp x cloves
2 tsp x cinnamon
2 tsp x tumeric
1 x onion, peeled and left whole
2 x garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 x green chilli, pricked and left whole
5 x cardamon pods
4cm x piece of cinnamon bark
1. I chargrilled my onions over the coal fire for 40 minutes, I merely rubbed them with a little knorr vegetable stock cube and placed them in a parcel of tin foil
2. in a dry frying pan on a medium heat toast the hawaij spice mix ingredients and then blend or work in a pestle & mortar
3. saute all of the vegetable ingredients for 4-5 minutes and add the spice mix & cayenne pepper
4. add the tomato puree and cook it out otherwise it will add a bitter note to the dish
5. add a few tbsp of water to the pan and allow to simmer for 1 minute
6. add the kidney beans to the pan along with 150ml of water and bring to a simmer
7. simmer for 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened to a dropping consistency
8. In the meantime you should have all your ingredients for the rice working and cook to your liking then remove all vegetables and spices after draining.
8. garnish with fresh coriander and serve