Our Indian summer event came to the Manor the other weekend, or should I say ‘Monsoon summer’ as the day was filled with torrential rain one minute and then glorious sunshine the next! We used our favourite Indian cookery books for this supperclub. Prashad was the inspiration for the veggie street food elements and Madhar Jaffrey’s Curry Bible the instructor for the British curry classics.
This event was one of our family style servings and so once guests had arrived and were seated we started to bring out the onslaught of food. The welcome drink was a ‘Bollywood’ spice, an unusual concoction of orange juice and vodka shaken over ice with the seeds and pith of many green chillis. The chillis are then sieved out and the drink topped up with soda water and given a few drops of grenadine for sweetness and colour. It had a definite spicy tingle to it, which was warming and pleasant, rather than being overpowering.
The street food element kicked off with platters of Pethis, deep fried little balls of potato stuffed with coriander, chillies and coconut. We’re beginning to think we’re a bit obsessed with serving little golden balls to our guests! 🙂 Full of sweet, crunchy spice, this was offset with dhaniya, a coriander chutney.
These were accompanied by papdi chaat, homemade deep fried crispy flatbreads topped with spiced chickpeas, tamarind chutney, sev (an indian type of vermicelli) and yoghurt. A nice clean, fresh contrast to the pethis.
To follow a warming bowl of tarka dahl, spiked with crispy fried shallots and the spices from the tarka.
Finally delicious skewers of Paneer shashlik were brought out. These had been marinated overnight in spices, coriander, chillies and yoghurt, then griddled on skewers and served with a kohlrabi salad. There’s something in the yoghurt that really tenderises the paneer and almost turns it marshmallowy in texture, that coupled with the spices and aromatics, was a wonderful mouthful!
The curries for the main event were served in huge bowls so that guests could help themselves to as little or as much as they wanted. It also added a fun and interactive element to the proceedings. Whilst time was saved for us from not having to do any plating up, the kitchen was still frenetic as everything was cooked fresh and to order. The offer included a slow cooked pork vindaloo – much more fragrant and lighter than the curry house classic. This was cubes of pork shoulder and belly that had been marinated overnight in chilli, ginger, garlic, the Manor’s own garam masala and white wine vinegar. It smelt glorious in the fridge, before it had even been cooked. It was slow cooked for 2-3 hours resulting in tender pulled pork in a sour and spicy sauce. It came topped with toasted cashew nuts and pickled red chillis to help lift the general porkiness!
The chicken tikka masala was my favourite of the night. Boned chicken thighs were marinated overnight in lemon juice, ginger, garlic, tons of spices, cream and paprika for colour. They were skewered and then grilled before adding to the masala, although you could easily BBQ these. The lemon really tenderises the chicken, which melted in the mouth. The masala was quite complex, with many stages and this gave it a real layered flavour. Onions were cooked til dark and then the fresh and dried spices and aromatics were added. Then slowly you add yoghurt so that it combines properly. Then fresh tomatoes are put in, as well as lots of stock. As I was making such a big batch of this it took over an hour to reduce down but the result was a perfectly sweet, sour and salty sauce with a subtle firey kick from chilli. I mopped up the leftovers with homemade frying pan naan breads, yum!
To accompany the curries I prepared Prashads cumin infused rice – which is simply rice cooked with precooked onions and cumin seeds. It gives the rice a nice bit of colour and flavour. Also on offer was a ‘Bombay Potato’ dish, which was nothing like the packet kind but actually waxy potatoes cooked with yoghurt, coriander, tomatoes and spices to produce a velvety and comforting dish that is actually a breakfast dish in the Gujarat. Finally the tables were also set with little dishes of carrot and cumin raita and fresh tomato chutney – a proper banquet!
To help cool tastebuds little pots of frozen lemon yoghurt lassi were passed round, acting as a bit of a pre-dessert. Speaking of which, dessert was a chai infused cake, served with mango coulis and a deliciously rich, sweet and naughty pistachio kulfi. Susie wanted to recreate the flavours of a masala chai – the spices coming from the cake and the creaminess from the kulfi. We honestly thought some of our guests were going to keel over at the sight of the pudding but somehow they found room to fit it all in!
Just when guests thought they could go and rest their weary bellies we then brought out elegant slates of Indian inspired petit four to accompany teas and coffees. These were little rounds of an almondy fudge – almost like Indian marzipan; and spicy pistachio balls topped with rose petals. Both are made by boiling up nuts with lots of sugar syrup and various flavours until they reach setting point. They were fun but messy to make!
It was fun to bring a touch of spice to the Manor, but the demands of lots of last minute, fresh cooking nearly pushed us over the edge! We’re pretty sure our lovely guests, some old, some new, went home with very full bellies! We hope that if anything we introduced them to the diversity of Indian food.
We’ll be going back to British for our next event which is a lovely afternoon tea – check out the menu here. I’m certainly looking forward to doing some proper baking at last!