#KlaRestaurantWeek: Speke Hotel
Though the best known entity “… at the Speke Hotel for fast, personalised service, ample parking space… etc” is Crane Forex Bureau; the hotel also boasts of two restaurants. The Khyber Pass and Rock Gardens. Both are taking part in this year’s Kampala Restaurant Week under the umbrella of Speke Hotel giving a diverse offering of Indian and Intercontinental cuisines with a fusion of local ingredients and influences. No, that does not mean you can eat at both places at a go, but that between 1st to the 11th of June is enough time to try both.
At the Khyber Pass, which specialises in Indian food, try the Fried Button Mushrooms coated in a thick tomato sauce.
They are slightly chewy on the outside but tender and fleshy inside with a spicy, tangy flavour and a subtle sweet after-taste. A non-vegetarian option is the Murg ke Sole which is made from fiery grilled chicken breast chunks softened by a yoghurt based marinade and sandwiched between glistening green peppers. The sour flavour of mint and coriander, a popular Indian sauce neutralises the strongly spiced chicken and pungent peppers.
Over at Rock Garden, there are some mushrooms on the appetisers menu as well, in the form of Mushroom Puffs.
The button mushrooms are dipped in butter sauce and served with a curried mayonnaise dip in a hollowed out green pepper. From the depths of the sea is the Avocado and Prawns, a large shrimp boiled whole and served with avocado and calypso sauce, which is the simple mix of tomato sauce, mayonnaise and hot sauce that never fails. For something a little lighter, however, opt for the Crème of Vegetable Soup; an assortment of vegetables cooked in garlic and onions, then blended and finished with coriander.
Rock Garden’s main courses are a meat lover’s spread with chicken, fish and beef dishes. The chicken dish goes by Kuku Wa Nazi, Swahili for “Coconut Chicken”.
This coastal dish of boneless chicken cooked in ginger, onion, garlic and coconut milk that soaks into the tender chicken’s flesh, giving it a sweet after-taste. The Diamond of Tilapia’s secret is its fluffy butter made from whisked egg whites and egg yolk combined and used to coat the fish fillet before deep-frying. Served with French fries and tartare sauce, it has the timelessness of traditional English Fish & Chips, without the oily newspaper. Finally, the Matooke Beef, an innovative way to combine Ugandan ingredients with intercontinental principles. Mattock is ground into flour and used to coat a beef fillet before deep-frying it and is served with salty brown mushrooms and chips. Yes, it’s the one garnished with standing Matooke chips that look like horns.
Khyber Pass’s Indian cuisine balances between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, but its vegetables can easily be mistaken for meat. Take the Sahi Vegetables, for example. The butter-fried cauliflower is mixed with cashew nuts and a creamy gravy, garnished with green specks of coriander and fried onions. I call juju. Cauliflower, one of the most boring vegetables is magically transformed into this mysteriously tender meat with a soft light crust served in a creamy, spicy, nutty sauce that tastes like white (Béchamel) sauce with an Indian twist. The actual non-vegetarian main dish is the Murg Lazeez, where “Lazeez” is Urdu for “Delicious”. The charcoal grilled chicken is mixed with a traditional Kashmiri gravy that is thick, spicy, pungent, and soaks right through the tender meat. This, like every main course is served with a side of garlic naan or rice, but is recommended with garlic naan.
Khyber Pass’s star finisher is the Mango Phirni, a pudding made from crushed rice, milk, mango pulp and a little sugar mixed together. This traditional dessert from Kashmir looks like custard pudding with millions of tiny bubbles and has a milky, slightly sweet flavour. One of our crew asked if it reminded us all of stealing Cerelac. We assumed this meant it reminded them of Cerelac’s subtle sweetness. And that he assumes everybody has a history of stealing Cerelac 👀
If you had your meal at Rock Gardens, you may keep it simple with the Fruit Cuts On A Plate, which is a variety of fruit from banana, pineapple, watermelon, passion fruit, apple, lemon and mango. If you feel a little more adventurous, there is the Mount Rwenzori Crepe. A pair of thin pancakes sandwich a scoop of vanilla ice cream and are garnished with icing sugar that looks like a snowy peak. However, if a little more ice cream variety is what you desire, try the Cassata Siciliana, a trio of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream layered with sponge cake in between them.
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja
You may find Speke Hotel at:
Plot 7-9 Nile Avenue, Kampala
Tel: + 256 414 235 332