What’s khana commune?

khana commune is a supper club, launched in Singapore by my sister Zina Alam in November 2010. Each week, 16 diners visit our Singaporean family home for a 5-8 course meal. The concept was alien to Singapore before the launch of khana commune, but it’s become hugely successful now.

Now, khana commune has expanded to London and is run by me, Fareena (Zina’s sister) and my other half, Abdul-Rehman.

Who would come to this sort of thing?

If you’re a foodie, if you like adventure, trying out new places to eat, meeting and dining with new people – then this is for you. This isn’t food you’ll find in a restaurant, the unique fusion of cuisines and the genuine nature of home cooked food can’t be replicated at any commercial restaurant. We use fresh ingredients and cook for our guests as we would cook for our families.

Why are you doing this?

We are avid foodies! We’re also the children of the best cooks in the world – our mothers, whose culinary creations we have always wanted to share with the world.

Who cooks?

We do. We are not professional chefs — our mothers have been cooking out of love for their families for almost four decades years and we love the idea of sharing this with the world. The food we serve is not ‘gourmet’, it is simply great home cooking Bangladeshi/Punjabi-style with a bit of fusion thrown in. You definitely won’t find any of the food we serve in any restaurant in the world.

We live in a post-war ex-local authority building in Whitechapel – both the building and our local area boast heaps of history. Our apartment sits in a post-war ex-local authority building, named after a local Jewish family that died in the WWII bombings. To this day, our building is home to numerous world war two survivors, many of whom are old Jewish men and women who have witnessed the transformation of East London from a Jewish neighbourhood to the multicultural haven it is today. This part of the East End is famed for its Indian/Bengali restaurants but I can guarantee you won’t find anything like our menu in any of the multitudes of curry houses on Bricklane (a stone’s throw from where we are). One thing is guaranteed: we will not be serving vindaloo nor our food in a balti.

What is the food like?

Our meals are a fusion of flavours and cuisines, although the biggest influences are Bengali, Punjabi and Singaporean recipes. Fareena, though born in Britain, has her roots in Bengali and Singaporean cultures, while Abdul-Rehman is Canadian-Punjabi-Pakistani. We bridged the gap between two warring nations in one generation, and together we can cook up quite a curry storm in our kitchen!

There’s nowhere else you’ll find fiery sambal prawn, paired with pulao rice, finished off with home-baked chunky double chocolate cookies, all at the same table.

We adore the the markets of the East End and source much of our produce from them – from the flowers at Columbia Flower market to decorate our table with to the local halal North African butchers.

How many people can dine together?

Our cosy living room fits 10 people. Come alone, come with a friend or book the entire evening for a group of 10.

Come alone?! Does this mean I’ll be dining with strangers?

Very likely! That’s part of the experience. khana commune is about bringing all kinds of people, whether strangers or friends, together over good food in a cosy, casual and original setting. If you are a tourist, and traveling alone, it’s the perfect way to get some company during dinner and see how a local family lives and dines at home in London.

What if I don’t want to dine with strangers? Can I make a private booking?

Absolutely. Gather a group of friends together, think of some possible dates and email me for details: fareena @ khanacommune.com (without the spaces).

what the heck is ‘khana’?

You don’t watch enough Bollywood. It means ‘food’ in Bengali. Bengali is the national language of Bangladesh, which is where our family are originally from.

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