Restaurant Review: Smoky Boys - Watford, London



Smoky Boys highlights the idea of ‘great meat and big flavours.’ The tagline is pretty much what the restaurant has to offer to its diners and to ensure & fulfil this promise, Smoky Boys use the best British lamb, chicken and premium cuts of beef to gourmet grills. The kitchen uses simple ingredients to curate the perfect dish so well that the flavors become a fond memory and you just want to come back for more again and again! 



Despite the fact that we visited Smoky Boys at the start of the week, we were easily able to locate a free parking spot on a street behind the restaurant. We had our table booked for 6:00 pm, but we reached Watford earlier to conveniently park and freshen up a bit before heading to the restaurant. It was a really warm day, and the sun had been shining bright which I’m not a massive fan of, as it can cause a headache if i'm facing it for too long. Thankfully the weather improved by the time we reached our destination and we were all set to enjoy a nice meal.



Starting off with drinks to cool down, I choose a Smoky Colada (£4.5) for myself while the husband opted for Amigos Punch (£5).  Obviously, BabyN’ has to try all drinks so we offered both to him and he preferred the latter which was prepared with passion fruit, mango & pineapple juice as well as grenadine. Since he’s not too fond of milk, I grabbed the opportunity to enjoy the Smoky Colada all by myself. This one was prepared with pineapple, coconut and Greek yoghurt, topped with roasted coconut. The drinks had a nice mix of flavors and presentation whilst being refreshing to sip on.

For the starters, we tried Smoky Beef Brisket which was served with home-made coleslaw. The brisket was cooked to perfection, topped with caramelized onions and truly flavorsome. We also tried the Char Grilled Shrimps, and the grilled Halloumi Skewers. Again a great smoky aroma from both with a superb combination of spices and distinct flavors.  




Also, we tried a chicken wings taster platter. It had 6 wings, each with a different flavor ranging from mild to hot. I do enjoy my spices, but we’ve cut down the level quite a lot, ever since BabyN’ started eating solids. Sauces on offer include lemon and thyme, smoky BBQ, Peri Jerk, Dynamite, Smoky Boys Sauce and Bad Boy Suicide. From among these, the lemon and thyme was mild with the lowest level of spice although still definitely not for little kids. All the others had a fair bit of spice and when served hot are sure to tingle the taste buds. Always a good idea to check with the staff about the heat level, but rest assured these were one of the best on offer. 


For the mains, we tried 3 different burgers - Smoky Bacon, Smoky BBQ and Moroccan Lamb. The Smoky BBQ (see below) was served with rosemary salt on skin on fries. The burger had a very generous filling of a beef patty that was further topped with a slow cooked beef brisket. Also, it included a bit of coleslaw, dill pickles, caramelized onions and a BBQ sauce and was served in a brioche bun. The photo might not accurately represent the burger size, but to give an idea we actually decided to cut it into half to be able to handle it better rather than struggle with the fillings dripping out. Every Bite of this was a wonderful mix of flavors and the sour, sweet, crunchy combo was a delight to the finish.   



The second burger was Moroccan Lamb - which included a lamb patty, baby gem lettuce, red peppers, grilled halloumi cheese, tzatziki and coky chilli harissa in a brioche bun. Like the Smoky BBQ, this one also brings in a burst of flavors. The burger patty actually hints towards flavors of a Golla Kebab which is a popular meat item served especially in South Asian weddings. The burger came with sweet potato fries on the side and I simply loved them! They were crispy and had been cooked just up to my liking. 



We had our third burger the Smoky Bacon on our table as well, but unfortunately weren't able to try it at the restaurant as the other 2 were so good and filling that we needed a breather especially for the upcoming dessert that the manager insisted on to have. However, my husband and I tried this burger the next afternoon. The burger had a beef patty, along with maple glazed oak smoky turkey bacon, grilled onions, cheese and Smoky Boys sauce served in a brioche bun. I quite like burgers with such fillings and so I really enjoyed it just from the first bite. It would for sure come up as a high recommendation for all burger lovers. 


From among the three, the Smoky Bacon was my favourite while Smoky BBQ won the most points for the husband.





After the mains were down, we had to go for another round of drinks and this time I opted for a tropical fruit punch. Its a mocktail on their special menu made from banana, mango, pineapple and coconut, blended with vanilla ice cream. When the drink arrived, it was cold and I could feel the crunchiness of crushed ice. BabyN' had been demanding for a lemonade, so husband opted for Old Fashioned Lemonade which was served with lots of fresh mint and Demerara sugar. 

Smoky Boys has a unique offering for their customers allowing them to create their own burgers so that they can start by choosing a base, type of cheese, garnish, toppings and sauce. Besides that, the Watford branch also has on its menu some steaks, ribs and hot dogs. Their hygiene rating is 5, which is as fantastic as it can get!



We were totally full by the time we got half done with the burgers so decided to get them packed but the manager insisted us to try their Homemade chocolate brownie and because it was husband’s birthday we agreed. Despite having already cut 2 cakes the day before, we wanted him to do it yet again. We had a candle lit up on and BabyN’ was all excited to sing a birthday song for daddy. The brownie was chocolate rich and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (vava is what my little one calls it & it’s his favorite flavor). All three of us shared the dessert because it wouldn’t have been possible to get separate ones after such a filling meal. 


Smoky Boys is the "fastest growing quality Halal burger chain in the UK". It has restaurants not just in Watford, but in Hounslow (opens till 4:00 am), Stevenhenge and Amersham too, and aside from these four current restaurant sites, it has four more in various stages of pre-opening: Park Royal, Wembley, Hemel Hempstead and an undisclosed site in central London.. All restaurants operating currently have a different menu and their timings are different. Some restaurants offer more options and might be better for family friendly dining, Warford being one. 


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Rating: 8/10 
Pricing: Mid-Range 
Halal Options: Everything is Halal
Child-Friendly: Yes, sitting is child friendly but there aren't any toilets
Alcohol Available: Yes (2 for 1 on cocktails, Sun - Thurs)
Location: 274a Saint Albans Road, Watford, WD24 6PE
Contact: 01923 252 968
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Tips for Brides and Grooms to Create a Dream Wedding

Tips for Brides and Grooms to Create a Dream Wedding

Having a dream wedding is every bride and groom's fantasy and to make it real, they invest a lot of money and time to make everything perfect! When I got married, my family and I spent a lot of money on the different wedding functions to ensure that everything goes well. In Asian households like mine, we have lots of wedding celebrations starting from Mayon and Mehndi to Barat, Valima and some people even extend it to Chauthi (the post wedding function). For every event, we have to choose a venue, and although for the initial celebrations, the guest list is small and includes just the relatives and close friends making the guest list range from between 150-300 people, the main wedding functions have a much larger guest lists ranging from 500-1000 people. 

Talking about my own wedding, it was pretty lavish and the main function was held at a known 5 star hotel in the country, making it definitely a dream and ideal wedding for us. However, things will be pretty different when it comes to my son getting married, as we'll have to ask the family to fly from thousands of miles to come and attend his wedding in the UK, some 2 decades later. I would definitely like to hire a spectacular country house as a wedding venue that would be perfect for family and close friends to stay. Although we have lots of exclusive wedding venues in the UK, I've just recently come across the Silchester House, a stunning house with the option of a stylish luxury indoor ceremony. To cater to the Muslim community, they also provide Halal options and other leisure facilities, which can definitely make it a versatile wedding celebration as one won't have to rely on the vegetarian options or on sea-food. 

wedding bangles

I also want to share some tips for brides and grooms not only to create their dream wedding, but these will also help in saving money.

DIY - This option has helped us save a lot of money during some of our functions. Both my sisters and my sister-in-law are very creative, so they took the lead for the decor and planning of the functions held at home. All the decor was done by them, and they spent very wisely on the materials used to doll up the house.

Cook at home - For the functions planned for lesser number of people (100-150 people), we decided to get some food from a catering company and some was prepared at home. In this way, we could increase the number of dishes, and could stick to the budget. It's normal in my household to prepare food for these numbers as we hold functions regularly, but maybe some people might not be comfortable in cooking for these numbers. In that case, it's best to take a few quotes from the catering companies, and then finalise the best option instead of finalizing the deal with the first choice available. 


Pakistani mehndi dress

Wedding Cake - In our tradition, we generally don't have a wedding cake or you can say that it's not a must. Our wedding cake was provided complimentary by the 5 star hotel where our main wedding function was held. You can liaise with your wedding venue provider to arrange for it, if it's an essential for you, and you never know they might just agree!

Do not waste money on Henna services - Bridal henna and mehendi services are quite pricey  nowadays, and I saved lots of money by not opting for a bridal design. I kept the design normal and it looked pretty decent on me as a bride. 


Pakistani wedding favours

Look for packages for Bridal makeup - I had to get my makeup done from a salon on 2 main events, but one known salon in the city offered me a package and provided a free party makeup which I availed on my Mehndi function. The day I went there for my wedding makeup, I also spotted a very popular actress of the country sitting right next to me, getting ready for a modelling shoot. 

Do not hire professional photographer for all functions - Professional photographers charge too much money, so we just hired them only for the main wedding events. In total, we had 5 events and 3 were covered by the professional photographer while the other 2 were covered by my sister who photographs very well.

If you have any tips for brides or grooms to create a dream wedding or to save money, then please share them in comments below.


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BAKERDAYS PERSONALISED LETTERBOX EID CAKE REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

Just last week, an email from bakerdays popped in my inbox advertising about the variety and designs of personalised Eid cakes they’ve introduced this year. I was quite happy that the cake brand is now catering to the Muslim community in the UK, and they’ve not just introduced cakes for Eid, but personalised cupcakes too. 

The bakerdays website has a a few designs for the cakes as well as the cupcakes that can be personalised up to your liking with your preferred text or you can even add a photo on it. I’ve always love personalised presents, and I can clearly remember as a child, that my father used to buy cakes for neighbours, family or friends when we visited them on Eid. It was compulsory for us to visit all the relatives and friends to wish them on Eid, so prior to the occasion we used to prepare lots of money wallets for all the children that my parents gave to them. For the adults, we either took ‘Mithai’ (local sweet treats) from a halwai (sweet maker/confectionist). At that time, I remember we were the only the ones who used to get cakes and it was a nice change for those receiving them because everyone used to have lots of boxes of sweets such as gulab jamun and cham cham already! However, this is a 20 year old story, we didn’t have any personalised Eid cakes at that time except that ‘Eid Mubarak’ was written on them. The trend is now changing, and even though the sweet treats are still very popular, no one minds receiving a delicious cake instead. 

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

I’ve previously tried a bakerdays personalised Ferrari themed cake in vanilla, which I got for my husband’s birthday, and I’m hoping to host an Eid party this year, I thought of adding their cakes on my dessert table too. This lemon drizzle cake with Eid Mubarak written on it had an option for personalised text to be included too, but since it wasn’t for one person, I decided not to add anything else and to keep it simple. 

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

The bakerdays ‘Eid Mubarak’ cake arrived in a white thick cardboard box and the cake is further secured in a nice tin box to ensure the personalised 5'' letterbox cake reaches you in good condition. The package contains a small card for the occasion, information with the date of order and delivery, expiry date of the cake and the ingredients used to prepare it. Moreover, you can also avail a 15% discount on the next purchase when sharing your #bakerdaysmoment on social media.

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

bakerdays is a Personalised Celebration Cake Specialist, providing quality personalised cakes for all occasions. The delicious range of recipes and sizes are available for delivery. The Letterbox Cake is the baby of the bakerdays family. Being just 5” in diameter, it fits perfectly through the Letterbox allowing you to surprise anyone with the most delicious personalised gift. You can check out the bakerdays website for more Eid cake designsIn collaboration with the cake specialists, I’m offering one of my readers a personalised Bakerdays cake and all you have to do is to enter the Rafflecopter to win (Terms & Conditions apply).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WINNER: Laura Z Banks


I wish Muslims all over the world celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, a very blessed one full of happiness and love!

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

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Disclaimer:  This is a collaborative post and the competition prize is sponsored by Bakerdays. All responsibility for the competition in terms of the prize is on them. The prize is a  letterbox cake. Giveaway is open to UK residents only & ends on June 14th, 2018.

Experience of trying the Ramadan Menu at Talli Joe - London, UK

Ramadan sharing platter Talli Joe London

London offers a variety of Indian restaurants to residents and visitors alike, and  Talli Joe located in Shaftesbury Ave ensures the diners get to enjoy a scrumptious meal in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant has designed a menu comprising classic Indian dishes from all over the country and using different cooking styles from Goan to Punjabi to prepare dishes with a modern twist. The menu at Talli Joe includes chakhnas, small plates, half plates, sides, sweet plates and refreshing drinks including both non-alcoholic and alcoholic options making it one of the most sort after Indian restaurant in London. 

As they’ve come up with special menus for different occasions in the past, this year Talli Joe has introduced the Ramadan menu which is served at Iftaar time to cater to the Muslim community. A dedicated downstairs sitting area at the restaurant is exclusive for diners looking for an Iftaar dinner. The guests can find a prayer area here and also be assured that no music or alcohol is entertained around there. Moreover the proceeds from the Ramadan menu are used to support Curry for Change - run by 2 UK based charities that are currently working in 19 countries to help vulnerable families and to combat their poverty and hunger.

Ramadan sharing platter Talli Joe London

Talli Joe's Ramadan sharing platter for two costs £35 per person, and includes a selection of starters, a good number of mains and a dessert to complete the palate. The thali is ample for 2 adults to enjoy a filling meal. Yet, as per the thali concept, the diners are free to ask for re-fills as they wish during the course of the dinner. In addition free flowing masala chai served with a Parle G biscuit was something nice especially for those who love tea after their long fast. We were quite full after the meal, so did not feel the need to ask for refills except for Bohri chicken, which was for BabyN' as he was enjoying the mildly spiced dish. 

Nimbo Pani Talli Joe London

Masala Chai Talli Joe

After being assisted to our table, we were served with some Medjool dates and water as the traditional items taken to end the day's fast. There were some seemingly refreshing drinks on the menu as well. From a choice of 4 non alcoholic mocktails (cost £6 each), we tried a few including Nimbo Pani and Tutti Fruiti which were so good to sip on given a slightly warmer day this Ramzan. 

Kale chaat Talli Joe London

This was my first time trying a kale chaat, so I wasn’t too sure about the taste. However, this popular Dehli street food served at Talli Joe as a starter was quite palatable! One can hardly guess the flavour and the ingredients just by looking at it and so the best way is to simply dive into it. With a base of sweet yoghurt and potatoes cut in cubes along with mint and tamarind chutney, some pomegranates tossed in and topped with crispy fried kale leaves, this was a wave of flavours in every bite. Definitely one of the must-try starters at Talli Joe and an excellent rendition of a savoury snack.

Fish Kempu Talli Joe London

Fish Kempu was the next dish that I tried - a classic Mangalorean crispy fish that was served on a bed of crispy fried okra and finished off with some dessicated coconut, served with tadka mayo to dip before eating. 

Halwai ki mattar kachori

From all the dishes I tried, the Halwai ki mattar kachori was the spiciest. The ingredients included a spicy pea-stuffed bread in butternut squash and potato curry. If you've had the experience of trying out a samosa chaat before, then I can say that the idea of the dish was pretty much the same. In India, Halwai is referred to the community with primary occupation related to either confectionery or sweet-making. The halwais also sell freshly fried matar kachoris that taste delicious especially if eaten when still hot. It was one of the favourite dishes for my husband.

Chicken 21 Talli Joe London

Chicken 21, also included in the platter was given this name because of a particular reason, and I was quite intrigued to know about it. The chef at Talli Joe was satisfied with the dish after 21 iterations. The tender chicken had been stir-fried with south Indian spices and curry leaves giving the dish an aromatic and zestful taste.

Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho Talli Joe London

Lamb roast is definitely one of my favourite dishes, and Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho (lamb roast on the bone), cooked with a classic Bengali recipe was rich with spices, a gloriously deep flavoured dish with the right balance of richness mainly inspired by Gol Baari of Kolkata. I would definitely like to recreate Kosha Mangsho at home and enjoy it with a hot homemade paratha or naan bread. 

Bohril chicken Talli Joe London

Bohri chicken was also one of the items in the Ramadan platter. Having lived in Dubai, I’ve been lucky enough to interact with people from lots of different cultures and one of my colleagues at my previous workplace in Dubai was also from the Indian Bohri community. This chicken dish created with a secret combination of masalas from their community was was enlivened with gentle yet effective spices. The sharing platter had a mix of dishes with variations in spices and this was a little mild, so it was even perfect for BabyN' to try.

Ramadan sharing platter Talli Joe London

Naan Talli Joe

The platter also had some boiled white rice served on a banana leaf alongside two green chillies, for those wanting an extra kick, sliced lemon and tomatoes. The hot and freshly made  Truffle Ghee Kulcha had been filled with generous amount of cottage cheese and brushed with ghee, also served alongside the rice. We paired the rice with the chana daal served in our platter, which gave a very homely feeling just if like we were eating a home cooked meal. 

Chana daal Talli Joe

The first bite of the black gajar ka halwa, one of the most popular dessert at Talli Joe instantly reminded me of the carrot halwa my grandmother used to make when she was alive. I’ve been eating the carrot halwa made with our family recipe since childhood and my mother and aunts still follow the same recipe. I’ve never cooked the halwa using our family recipe myself yet, because it takes quite some time to prepare it but it was BabyN’s first time trying it and I’m glad he enjoyed it.

Black gajar ka halwa Talli Joe

Although parking is not available exactly outside the restaurant, there are options to park at the nearby streets, especially near the Covent Garden. We parked on the Wild Street (Drury Lane) and opted to walk to Talli Joe. It was just an 8 minute walk, and the weather that day was quite pleasant. 

All prices of the items at the restaurant are inclusive of VAT, but 12.5% service charge is applied on the bill. Also, gift vouchers ranging from £10 - £75 are available, and are ideal for giving them to family or friends. 

We had a great evening at Talli Joe and although the restaurant was open till 11:00 pm that night, we decided to take an early leave as we had to head back to Kent and reach home before suhoor. However, I’d definitely like to return to try some of the other dishes served at Talli Joe and if I'll be asked to order a few of these dishes from the Ramadan sharing platter, then the Kale chaat, Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho and Black gajar ka halwa would definitely top the list. 


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Rating: 8/10 
Pricing: Mid-Range 
Halal Options: Chicken & lamb are Halal
Child-Friendly: Yes! We left the stroller upstairs before going downstairs for Iftaar. Not sure about baby changing station, as the need didn't arise.
Alcohol Available: Yes
Location: 152-156 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HL, UK
Contact: 020-78365400 
Website: www.tallijoe.com
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Tips to keep the surrounding environment better with Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor


The most important step for making the environment better is to know how it is as without knowing, one won’t be able to take any corrective measures. To fight pollution, it’s necessary to measure it and with Foobot, families can make their household breathe in fresh air as the device immediately informs the user in case attention is required.
Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor

It’s perfect to keep an eye on the air in your surroundings as Foobot enables the users to know about the air quality by analysing the level of humidity and carbon dioxide around the device. The device not just calculates the indoor conditions, but is also able to tell about the outdoor condition and the quality of air. Based on fine particles and volatile substances, the user gets notified about the status of the surrounding and any change in the atmosphere is also evident by the change of the light on the device which changes the LED display from blue to orange if any attention is needed. Not only can the Footbot smell the invisible pollutants in the environment, but you’ll get to know whether the surrounding air feels like that of the one in the Alps or like a freeway in a busy metropolitan. 

Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor

When the Foobot arrived, it was very well packed and I simply had to take out the device out of the packaging and plug it within 5 feet of my WiFi device. The next step was to install the Foobot application and follow the steps as told. It was an extremely simple process installing the Foobot in my house and as advised, I waited for 3 days for the device to adjust to the surroundings and to start functioning properly. Now every time, there’s any change in the environment, I get notified about it on my mobile. With the Foobot, I’m now in a better position to understand the environment in which I’m living. 

Measure the indoor pollution easily with Foobot, and improve the air quality as it results in various benefits such as lesser allergies, low probability of respiratory issues and better sleep. Indoor pollution can be a result of anything - the major causes are the combustion by-products released by cooking or heating appliances and the volatile organisms compounds such as cleaning agents used in the kitchen or any other part of the house or even personal care products and hair dyes. 


In order to keep my house smell fresh and away from any unwanted odours, I burn the wax melts which spread a very subtle smell in the house. Also, I sometimes use air fresheners or scented candles to make the house look and feel cosy. 


People can also breathe cleaner air by keeping indoor plants as they’re great natural solutions to get rid of pollution. I love plants and they also add a nice touch to a corner setting of any room. Spider plants have to be placed in a well lit area and needs watering just once a week. Peace lilies are another option, and according to NASA, they help in filtering toxins from the air. I also have an aloe plant in my house which was gifted to my by one of my aunts and it's still flourishing since more than 3 years. With that said, I can definitely say that it's not just a low maintenance plant, but it can also last quite long if well taken care of.



I always avoid opening windows on windy days as that might bring in dust particles or any unwanted particles in the house. However, it’s also essential to open the windows to let the carbon dioxide and the harmful substances out of the house. 

Get an air purifier for the house for a cleaner environment. The device gets rid of the contaminants from the air and are beneficial for those suffering from allergies or asthmatic problems. It removes the impurities from the air, making it cleaner and healthier for everyone living in a house.

Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor


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