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Leeds Indie Food Menu!

We’re pleased to unveil our menu for this week’s Leeds Indie Food event! This year we are collaborating with Leeds indie stalwarts Salvo’s and showcasing the gorgeous new venue and facilities at Leeds Cookery School.

Our menu – Cucina Povera vs Cucina Alta – will showcase Italian peasant food, which we’ll give a high-end edge through our use of ingredients and cooking techniques.

We hope guests will enjoy, which if a success will become a calendar of regular ‘Chef’s Table’ events at Leeds Cookery School. What’s more, as it’s a social enterprise, every penny goes back into funding projects that tackle poverty in the city.

LIF18 Menu

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Chai, chaat and… eggy salt!

Following my North Leeds pop ups earlier this year I decided that carting all my supperclub kit off to an alien venue wasn’t a big enough challenge. No, an even better challenge would be to try and do it all on my own – cooking, plating and serving over 100 plates of food with no help whatsoever. The only concession being that I could do it back at the Manor in my comfort zone! For this meal I used recipes from Chetna Makan’s latest book, Chai, Chaat and Chutney – which pays homage to the diverse streetfood of India’s various regions.

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I picked a menu that would hopefully turn my house into a Bundobust franchise, full of delicious food that I’d want to eat myself. I started proceedings with an Indian rose scented lemonade. This was an unexpectedly challenging drink. The lemonade is salted, giving it a margarita type effect, but also includes black salt, giving it an, erm delicious, sulphurous edge! I have to say that I toned down the black salt, but still felt that I had to pre warn guests as there was an unmistakable eggy whiff with every sip! It makes it sound awful, which it wasn’t. But next time I think I’ll include the sea salt, but not the black salt! This drink was good with a dry gin, garnished with rose petals and lemon zest.

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I started the food offerings with a selection of snacks. First up was a little pot of Bhel – lots of crunchy morsels, such as puffed rice, sev, potato, onion and poppadum all bound together in a sweet, spicy and tangy tamarind chutney. This had to be mixed at the last minute to ensure everything was coated with flavour but could retain its crunch.

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Next up was uttapam – a think pancake made from fermented rice, lentils and fenugreek. I served this with sambhar – which has to be the most comforting daal I’ve ever made, and a delicate fresh coconut chutney. This would be a good breakfast dish, and was indeed what I had for brunch the next day. Fermenting your own dosa batter is fairly straight forward, just time consuming. Do give it a go, although you’ll need a warm space in your house – I resorted to the warming drawer as it’s been so cold of late!

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This was swiftly followed by the whole reason I chose this book – vada pav sliders! Homemade little milk buns came smeared with coriander and mint chutney and chilli and garlic chutney and then filled with spiced potato patties that had been deep fried in a gram flour batter until crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. I could eat these all day everyday.

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We moved swiftly on to a lesser known side to Indian streetfood. Being a cultural melting pot there are quite a lot of Chinese influences that I was surprised to discover. This included vegetable manchurian. These little dumplings looked a bit like falafel but were actually pureed cabbage, green beans, carrot and chilli, mixed with flour and deep fried. It seems like they won’t hold, but they do. I served these with a ginger infused soy broth.

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Again, Bombay chicken seemed more Chinese than Indian. Chicken thighs and drumsticks were marinated overnight in soy, garlic, ginger, chilli, five spice and brown sugar and then roasted on high. This produced a flavourful and very moist mouthful.

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The final curries included chole and a paneer tawa. The chole is essentially a very fragrant chickpea curry spiked with black cardamom and cinnamon. The paneer curry was quite complex – paneer was marinated in yoghurt and then baked until crispy. The sauce was full of spice and then given a final layer of flavour with fenugreek leaves stirred through just before serving. I personally find fenugreek a bit overpowering but it did work against the rich and creamy cheese. The curries came with a buttery, spiced pea stuffed paratha.

After all that spice and stodge I thought the best antidote was to serve two puddings. First up was a pistachio kulfi, which was one of the hits of the night. Whole milk had to be lovingly reduced by two thirds over a low heat – this seriously took about 4 hours to do! You can just use evaporated milk but I’m told this compromises on flavour. I flavoured mine with chopped pistachio and vanilla and froze them in little ice pop moulds. The result was surprisingly refreshing.

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The main dessert was not from the book but inspired by the flavours. I opted for a creamy rice pudding cooked with coconut, saffron and cardamom. I have to say that, whilst I love saffron, it completely overpowered everything else. The rice pudding was cooked with coconut milk, coconut cream and had toasted coconut stirred through and I still don’t think you could notice it! I served it cold with fresh pineapple and a scoop of pineapple sorbet, which sounds odd but helped cut through the creamy richness. The sorbet was a real hit – the secret is to ensure there is enough sugar (almost to the point of it being too sweet) and to include a dash of booze, as these elements help keep the ice crystals small, so you get a super smooth sorbet. The freezing process dulls anything that is too sweet, so don’t worry about being overly generous with the sugar.

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And so that was it for my Indian adventure, I don’t think I’ll be opening up a streetfood stall just yet, but if I do, perhaps it will be serving vada pav sliders and pistachio kulfi! Our next event is down at Leeds Cookery School as part of Leeds Indie Food, and after that we’ll be taking a little break over summer with some potential new events in early Autumn to welcome back Susie from maternity leave!

 

 

North Leeds Pop Ups!

Regular readers will know that Susie is currently off on maternity leave – she had a baby girl in the end and both are doing very well! To keep me busy in the meantime I experimented with some pop up events in a secret venue in North Leeds, as a high proportion of our customer base comes from North Leeds. I did these ‘feast’ style, to save me from having to plate up over 100 plates of food all on my own!

First up in February was a Sri Lankan feast, inspired by my travels in Sri Lanka last summer. If I’m completely honest it was a baptism of fire! The logistics of getting all our stuff over to a different venue and then cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen were much more challenging than I had originally anticipated. But we have high standards at the Manor and I was keen to uphold these. Whilst serving the dinner ‘buffet style’ saved me from plating up lots of dishes, the knock on effect was the requirement for all the food to be hot and ready all at the same time – in a narrow galley kitchen where you can see your breath, it was that cold!

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Our venue for the pop ups was Shadwell Independent Library and Arts Centre. Shadwell is a little village, just beyond Roundhay Park, and the library is a beautiful little Georgian property that the community has recently claimed back and is running through volunteers. It’s an incredibly atmospheric and cosy environment and more than enough space to host the 14 guests I had coming, even if the cooking was a bit tricky! Plus guests could read the latest Mills and Boon, or a local history book whilst they waited for the next course to come!

I cooked as much as I could in advance so that I could be in control on the night. But reheating a number of curries and sides took a bit longer than anticipated! Snacks on the night included little pots of daal, and a little bread roll stuffed with a spicy tuna mix. My favourite snack was a Sri Lankan version of a masala dosa. I really enjoyed making this as I got to ferment and then grind rice, fenugreek and lentils into a paste to turn into thick, tasty pancakes.

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Sri Lankan curries, on the whole, are a bit lighter than Indian curries. Sri Lanka is still quite a poor country and so a big focus is on vegetables, with meat and fish used sparingly. The curries pack a punch in terms of spice and come with sweetness from coconut and sourness from tamarind. I think the standout curies for me were the cashew nut curry – where the nuts are cooked until soft; the prawn and tamarind curry, which had a really moreish, deep and tangy tamarind sauce; and spicy baked chicken, which had the most incredibly intense marinade that leaves the chicken melt in the mouth and super tasty.

By the time of our March event, which was just this weekend, you could say I had learnt my lesson in terms of what it was feasible to produce in such a small, strange kitchen. Luckily the theme was Persian – inspired by Sabrina Ghayour’s latest book ‘Feasts’ – and so a lot of the accompanying salads were able to be served at room temperature.

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For snacks I prepared little sausage rolls filled with lamb kofta, pasties filled with curried mushy peas and a flavourful frittata stuffed with peppers, herbs, cheese and lots of pul biber chilli flakes.

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The feast itself was centred around a huge lamb leg that was marinated overnight in yoghurt, rose harissa, fenugreek and lime. This was slow roasted for 4 hours and then served shredded and bound in all the lovely marinade juices. The stand out sides included a filthy grilled corn salad that was pimped with lashings of brown butter and feta cheese. A charred cauliflower salad also seemed to go down well. This was roasted in harissa and honey and then was served with preserved lemon, almonds and a tahini sauce. What I like about Sabrina’s food is that she’s not afraid to pair what seem like bonkers ingredients, and it always works! She adds layers of flavour through the additional accompaniments and the resulting colours are always very inviting!

Dessert was a pretty little sweet vanilla parfait, filled with sour cherries, punchy mint, bitter chocolate chips and a naughty dark chocolate sauce. The combination of sweet and sour was superb.

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So, it nearly pushed me over the edge, but I succeeded in my pop up experiment! It was loads of work to get all the appropriate food, crockery and equipment to the venue, so I think in future a temporary residency at a venue would be a much better use of time, rather than having to unpack and pack up completely at the start and end of each event.

With that in mind, my next events in April will be… back at the Manor! It will be lovely to be back in my comfort zone and to be able to go into a cupboard to get what I need! These will be based around Chetna Makan’s latest book on Indian Streetfood and I’ll be attempting to create a fine dining tasting menu out of it! These are likely to be our last events until Susie thinks about returning in the Autumn.

Spring 2018 Events – now on sale

We are pleased to release are latest batch of supperclubs. Simply click the links below to buy tickets for each event. To read more about the events, click here.

Friday 27th April 2018, 7pm to 10pm – Indian Street Food – £35ppSOLD OUT

Thursday 24th May 2018, 7pm to 10pm – Cucina Povera vs Cucina Alta – SOLD OUT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New events alert!

Fresh from the adrenalin of our North Leeds pop ups we’re pleased to announce a few more events to take us safely through spring. These go on sale Monday 5th March at 5pm – this is your 24 hour warning!

Friday 27th April – Indian Streetfood

For these events I’ll be bringing the Manor back to the Manor for a more intimate affair. I’ll be using Chetna Makan’s latest book on Indian Streetfood to create an exciting supperclub menu. People may remember Chetna from bake off where she was famed for being a flavour queen – my kind of cook! She uses spices in fun and inventive ways and I’m looking forward to creating a formal tasting menu menu with some very informal food! Tickets will be £35pp and gets you our usual Manor feast plus welcome drink. Click here to read about our last Chetna event.

 Thursday 24th May – Cucina Povera vs Cucina Alta

As part of this year’s Leeds Indie Food Festival we’ll be teaming up with Italian stalwarts Salvos and new social enterprise, Leeds Cookery School. The Cookery School (based in the beautiful Old Fire Station) will play host to an exclusive mash up between ourselves and Salvos. This chef’s table event will be an interactive dining experience centred around Gip Dammone’s passion for Cucina Povera – the Southern Italian peasant cuisine famed for making the most of very simple ingredients. We’ll be introducing some simple but high end (alta), luxury twists to elevate his dishes to another level! Tickets will be £37pp and this gets you a four-course meal, lots of treats to try, and a welcome aperitivo, as well as demonstrations galore from our passionate and knowledgeable chefs – it’ll change the way you see your ingredients! What’s more all proceeds from this event will go towards the Cookery School’s charity arm – helping disadvantaged communities in Leeds. This will be an evening event (7pm-10pm). Tickets will be available direct from Leeds Indie Food.

Persian Feast Pop Up Menu

Well I survived our first Leeds pop up (but only just)! And hot on its heels is our latest foray into cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Needless to say the work of transporting all our stuff to a new venue and then cooking it all in a strange kitchen was a bit more gruelling than I expected it to be and so after next week’s pop up I might have a break until Susie returns to help! That aside, I am pleased to now reveal the next menu, which is inspired by Sabrina Ghayour’s latest book – Feasts. This Persian Princess cleverly fuses foods from her Iranian background and British upbringing, and is some of the tastiest food I’ve eaten, plus is very accessible to cook. Details of our secret North Leeds location have gone out to guests already, so if you think you’re coming and haven’t received this, then check your spam or get in touch! See you soon…

Persian Feast Menu

Sri Lankan Feast Menu

I’m going it alone next week, whilst Susie acclimatises to life with her new, beautiful baby girl. I’m taking the Manor on tour with some North Leeds pop ups. First up is a feast Sri Lankan style, inspired by my travels last summer. Sri Lankan curries are largely vegetarian, although fish can feature quite heavily in coastal areas. I found them a lot lighter than Indian curries but still quite punchy and spicy, sour with tamarind and fragrant with coconut. Below is the menu for you to have a nosey at. I hope I will be able to cook all of that on my own! If this goes well then I’ll book a few more in before Susie’s return. Watch this space for ticket alerts.

Sri Lanka Feast menu