The thing about supper clubs is – as we’re slowly learning, they attract a certain kind of guest. Almost invariably, he or she is sociable, adventurous and easy-going. If not, they wouldn’t be keen on dining in a stranger’s home surrounded by further more strangers.
For our inaugural khana commune London dinner on 20th October 2011, following a successful pilot, we were not disappointed. Each guest – there was a photographer, a game designer, a banker, a fashion expert, a charity worker amongst others – was as sweet as pie. It just makes all the effort so, so worth it.
Without Zina around, we were slightly panicky about how we’d do and there were moments when things got hairy in the kitchen and in the service. The jumbo prawns, frozen at source in Bangladesh, were still defrosting by the time starters were finishing. We forgot to provide napkins until a guest reminded us halfway through the mains. That kind of thing!
We kept calm (mostly) and the evening went pretty smoothly in the end.
On the menu were dishes very close to our hearts, but before that here’s a shot of our beautiful table setting, with a sneak peak at the sweet tamarind juice and lemon water.
To start, we served a mozarella, grape tomato and homegrown basil canapé – not Bangladeshi but one of my favourite flavour combos.
Then, we had aloor chop – tender potato parcels stuffed with minced meat and then covered with panko breadcrumbs. This dish is delicate and quite a challenge to make. It’s so worth it because it was a hit with our guests.
The potato kebabs were served with a delicious Pakistani coriander chutney, which I learnt from my Liverpudlian aunt-in-law – she hails from Multan, Pakistan and is an exceptionally good cook.
Then we served a surprise item – chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), a popular breakfast dish from Singapore. We kept it simple and served with a little
sweet bean paste and chilli oil.
For the mains, we had bengali style jumbo prawns. When I say jumbo, I really mean it. These prawns can be as large as the palm of your hand – they are pricey and a pain to source but again, totally worth it.
The fiery Rajasthani lamb curry made by Abdul-Rehman, which was a clear favourite that evening.
begoon bhartha – bengali eggplant mash
The pomegranate salad was also a surprise menu addition. It’s originally Turkish – I learnt to make it at a restaurant on Stoke Newington Road, East London. It helps to sit facing the kitchen area, while the chef makes this dish fresh for about a dozen customers while you’re having your dinner. Needless to say, I happily memorised the ingredients/portions!
aamer achar – mango and garlic pickle
(which we clearly forgot to photograph)
pulao rice with caramelised shallots
To sweeten, we had chunky gooey-centred cookies, fresh out of the oven, served with a choice of organic milk, yemeni kisher, aeropresse coffee or herbal tea. This photo really does not do the cookies justice.