After much practice and grinding of spices our Indian Odyssey supperclub, inspired by Rich Stein’s beautiful book from last year, was finally upon us this weekend. We’re always nervous doing Indian themed events. I’ve no idea why, given that we were doing Peruvian and Lebanese only the other month. I think it’s because there are so many people out there doing Indian food well and because I’ve never been to India, I feel a bit paranoid that we’ll not be authentic. Having said that there are a lot of people out there doing bad Indian food, full of ghee and poor spicing. Anyway we loved having a play around with Rick’s recipes and getting to know true regional Indian food that goes beyond the British take away classics. His recipes have proved to be fresh and exciting, not heavy and greasy.
I was responsible for the canapés and starter and so developed a range of mini bites to tantalise our guests and introduce them to a bit of spice. This was no small feat given the range of dietary requirements that befell us – nut allergy, gluten free, veggie, pescetarian… First up was Susie’s cocktail of Indian sunset. A sweet and fruity mix of gin, guava, ginger beer, lime and grenadine. This was swiftly followed by a mini pau bhaji bite. This is a popular streetfood in Bombay. A simple concoction of potato, tomato, mushy peas and lots of lovely fragrant spices. This is cooked to a mush with lots of butter. Mine came served atop a naan crisp with fresh red onion. This was great comfort food.
Next up were little portions of egg molee. Now I’d be the first to turn my nose up at an egg curry, but trust me on this one! Hard boiled quails eggs were stirred through an innocent looking but punchy coconut masala. This sauce tricks the tongue into thinking it’s sickly sweet but at the final moment heats the throat as it goes down. This was a great pair to the soft and creamy egg.
Also on offer was a little fish bite served with punchy green chutney. Now this dish was meant to be the Indian take on fish and chips. White fish deep fried in a batter of chickpea flour, garlic, ginger and turmeric. This was the plan but on the night I realised I’d used up all my eggs and so had to improvise! So instead I marinated the fish in the spices and then grilled briefly. Combined with the spicy aromatic chutney this was a lovey fresh bite, although I’m sure some crunchy batter wouldn’t have gone amiss!
My final offering was a little cup of sultan’s daal. This was a decadent lentil soup, fit for royalty and full of cream, yoghurt and tamarind. This came spiked with fresh mint and hot chilli. For starters I looked again to streetfood for inspiration and produced a beef (or mushroom) kati roll. The kati roll is really taking off in the west and having tried one this weekend I can see why. Chapattis were fried with egg and coriander to create an eggy bread kind of effect. Beef rump was then marinated in lime, lots of garlic and home ground garam masala and grilled briefly. The soft, pink chunks of beef were then rolled in the chapattis with pickled red onions, chilli and more coriander. This created a comforting yet spicy, salty and sour mouthful. It was a bit too hot for some, but I was keen not to anglocise any of the recipes (or be accused of doing so). For me the heat came in pleasant waves rather than an aggressive punch in the face!
For mains Susie created a veritable banquet of four unique, regional curries. First up was Chettinad chicken, a very peppery, spicy dish and unlike many typical curries. The next was a Pondicherry fish curry. Made with coley fresh from Leeds market, this curry was made with coconut and mustard seeds. Fragrant and less powerful than the other curries, this demonstrated the more delicate side of Indian cuisine. A spicy, powerful curry was in order and this came in the shape of a Goan pork curry. Packed with green chillies, garlic and tamarind and topped with pink pickled onions, the meltingly tender pork was warming and tangy. Finally, a sweeter curry came in the form of Susie’s butternut squash curry. Raisins, dates and coconut mingled with the squash to create a sticky, sweet curry – almost like a warm chutney that complimented the chicken and the pork perfectly.
To accompany the curries, Susie served these with cumin infused rice (from the Prashad cookbook – sorry Rick!) and a “kachumber salad” – a cumin spiked cucumber, onion and tomato salad.
After all that spice palettes definitely needed some cooling down. And this came in the form of Susie’s unusual but elegant mango and coconut milk sorbet. Pureed mango, lime and coconut milk was churned together to create a cooling take on lassi. I’ll admit now that Rick’s book isn’t that inspiring for desserts and so I had to use some creativity for this course. I love masala chai tea and so was keen to incorporate it into a creamy dessert. In the end I created a chai pannacotta. It seemed to go down really well and people were desperately flicking through the book to get the recipe.
As a gift to you all I’ll blog the recipe in due course (you can get it here now)! I served the creamy pannacottas with homemade cardamom and pistachio shortbread, mandarin syrup, mandarins and pomegranate. The shortbread is Ottolenghi’s recipe and comes recommended. It doesn’t use much sugar and is almost savoury. I think this worked well for the sweet pannacotta but it also meant that pistachio and cardamom could sing.
Finally we served up teas coffees and Susie’s petit four of pistachio orange blossom madeleines, dipped in chocolate. Soft and sweet, these bizarrely tasted like jaffa cakes, only better!
So, that’s it for now! It is a bit sad really as we do love doing the supperclub but it has got a bit much for us recently – on top of full time jobs and busy lives. I would never have imagined that three years after having the (mad) idea that we’d still be holding regular events and also hold the accolade of Leeds’ longest running supperclub! I’ve been looking back at past posts and can see that our presentation and our portion sizes have definitely improved over time, as has our organisation skills and timing! Anyway it will be nice to get the house back to normal and to also have a bit more freedom about what I cook at home as I’m not having to test run recipes! We’re not sure when we’ll reopen at present as it depends how our building work goes, we do reckon it will be autumn though so keep an eye out. In the meantime we promise to start our dinner NOT at the manor pop ups this summer. We’ll be using the blog to announce dates and sell tickets so do sign up to receive notifications or follow us on twitter – @dine_leeds