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30 July 2019

Ballyhackamore Belfast BYO: Rajput and Good Fortune restaurants (with wine tips to match dishes).

Ballyhackamore in east Belfast - known locally as 'Ballysnack' thanks to no shortage of eateries and cafés along this busy stretch of Upper Newtownards Road - is home to at least two recommended restaurants, where you can bring your own wine. The Rajput has become something of an Indian food institution, and I've always found the quality to be very consistent and the service top notch. It has also become one of the dearer Indian restaurants in Belfast, although no more than some fancy places with arty pretensions where you don't get enough food for the money. Whereas, even if the prices have edged up a little at Rajput, you always get good portions of tasty and varied dishes.
A few favourites from their menu include: Lamb Monposond, which I haven't seen elsewhere, featuring a good amount of fenugreek; or Lamb Jal-Jal if you like a hotter sauce. I don't often recommend red wine with curry simply because it doesn't usually work (clash of tannin vs chilli etc.), but Los Cardos Malbec from Argentina (SuperValu) photoed here wouldn't be a bad match with its soft berry fruits; or try the Clos des Batuts Cahors (made from Malbec too, at certain Lidl stores) featured in my previous 'wines of the week' post below. The Rajput serves up a nicely prepared example of the ubiquitous King Prawn Biryani as well, or an impressive Tandoori King Prawn Main: suitable wine choices for these would be Cono Sur Bicicleta Gewurztraminer from Chile (Tesco), also recommended below, or the 2018 Albarino from star Languedoc winery Laurent Miquel (Dunnes stores). And either of Rajput's spinach side dishes (my favourite veg for curry sauces) are lovely and generous (unlike some places where they seem to think you'll want less when having vegetarian dishes), in addition to pretty classic crispy Onion Bhajis.
More details on rajputbelfast.co.uk or facebook.com/Rajput - restaurant prices are about 50% more than the takeaway menu shown on there. Photo below: lamb saag with bombay spuds.



I find rosé fizz a solid all-rounder with spicy food, whether Indian, Thai or Chinese. Such as Tesco's good-value Cava Rosado Brut again reviewed below; or for a posher option, check out your local Asda to see if they still have any half-bottles left of the sumptuous Nicolas Feuillate Champagne rosé, which was reduced to clear I think and quite a bargain (£6 or £7?).
Either of these wines would be a sensible choice to take to the Good Fortune Chinese restaurant in Ballyhack (Eastleigh Drive BT4) to complement a variety of different dishes, and where they don't even charge you corkage. Another consistently good eatery, in fact probably better then many Chineses in Belfast and beyond, and it's reasonably priced. A couple of starters enjoyed here a few times are their duck spring rolls and salt and chilli squid. For mains, they have a wider selection of duck dishes than usual (often too many with sweet sauces) including spicy ones like Szechuan, piled with decent pieces of duck breast and not too much fat. Good Fortune's king prawn Thai curries are all flavoursome too (red, green, yellow), and I love their wok-fried noodles as a side; alternatively, the chilli chips are something else!
Pinot Noir works generally well with duck: try one of Lidl's 'winemaker selection' range, the Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018 from New Zealand, which isn't the most spectacular version but certainly value for money and fairly light offering an attractive mix of sweet and savoury fruit. Or any of the PNs recommended in the post below, especially the two Germans. And what about the maturing smoky concentrated Domaine de Lavail 2016 old vine Carignan (M&S) from the Roussillon in southern France, an ample pairing for rich poultry dishes. A good quality unoaked Chardonnay is a delicious and arguably more 'serious' alternative to Sauvignon blanc with Chinese: a couple of favourites sampled recently include Aldi's lovely Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay from Aus, and Domaines Arnaud 2018 Chardonnay from the Languedoc (Tesco Ireland). Chablis does the business too, although hard to find one nowadays for less than a tenner or even close. A final white wine tip for those of you looking for something a little unusual, I enjoyed and photoed the Attiya 2018 Viura & Garnacha, sourced from Catalonia, but can't now remember where exactly I bought it: probably Lidl or Aldi in the Republic of Ireland. Floral and zesty on the one hand, yet fairly full-bodied and nutty at the same time.