It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a supperclub. The last one was actually Asma Khan’s Jai Ho Supperclub. Asma has become a good friend and I am so proud of her success at The Sun and Thirteen Cantons pub in Soho, London. If you haven’t been then do pay her a visit in the next couple of months as she her residency closes at the end of March.
Asma knows every Indian chef there is to know in the London Indian chef community and one of the things she is wonderful at is giving a platform to others. So when she told me about Sameer Taneja and his food, I had to book myself in to his first supperclub.
Sameer started his career at Oberoi Rajvilas in India. In the UK he’s worked at the Waterside Inn, Brasserie Joel and Koffmann’s and most recently as the Executive Chef of Benares. The latter holds very special memories for me as I had my 40th birthday lunch there.
A Saturday lunchtime supperclub is a real treat nowadays. I’m usually at my cafe so to get away and eat somewhere else was a proper luxury. I arrived to a table of chattering and laughing fellow diners and some Masala Chaash. This is a curried yoghurt drink which as a Gujarati I drink every day. I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the menu and even more surprised to see it referred to as ‘chaash’ and not ‘lassi’.
We started with a platter of Indian street snacks except these had a little of Taneja’s creativity on the side. The Pao Bhaji was a ramekin of the vegetable curry mixture which had a fine layer of ever so slightly cheesy mash on top. I would have eaten the whole portion to myself to be honest. This the mini brioche style ‘pau’ (bread rolls) which had been spread with a green chutney was a perfect sized starter.
The other highlight for me were the Stilton Pakora. I’m not a huge fan of faffing around with great British ingredients like Stilton but I know how well British cheese work with spice. My Cumin and Cheddar Souffles are a regular at home as are Cheddar and Bombay Mix Sandwiches! His pakoras were so crispy on the outside with oozing blue cheese inside. A perfect bar snack with a gin and tonic I’d say.
Condiments and chutneys are a must on an Indian table and Smeer had made a Cranberry Aachar (pickle) and a Roasted Aubergine Chutney. Both were delicious but the cranberry is one I could easily slather onto hot buttered sourdough every morning for breakfast, perhaps with some buffalo mozzarella. We ate them with Papad (poppadoms) and Gujarati Khakra (crispbreads).
Next up a beautiful clay pot with Scottish Scallops, Mustard & Curry Leaf Vermicelli, San Marzano Tomato Chutney and Microgreens. This was by far my favourite dish of the meal. So delicate. The vermicelli was a nice twist on a regular Carrot Sambhar with many more mustard seeds than I would have been brave enough to use.
I was least impressed with the main vegetarian dish. It was very clever – a Courgette Stuffed with Home Churned Paneer served on top of a Red Pepper and Makhani Veloute – but I would happily have licked the bowl of Urad Dhal clean perhaps with a whole helping of the Wild Rice Kicheree to myself. Hot ghee poured over of course.
There are a lot of chefs faffing with Indian desserts. Sometimes they are not meant to be faffed with. Take Rasmalai for instance. It’s perfectly delicious eaten as Rasmalai. So did it really need silky milk chocolate and dark chocolate sauces drizzled over the top? Yes it did! I loved the chocolate as it diluted the cardamom which I often find overpowering. There was also something very clever and crunchy within the dish but I haven’t quite been able to figure out what it was. Like posh Rice Krispies. Whatever it was, it worked and this was a perfect, light dessert.
Lemon Chai and Mini Ladoos concluded our lazy and delicious lunch.
Such a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon with new friends. Thank you Chef Sameer for an interesting debut supperclub.