Guajarati Supper Club – Streatham, London
Guest Feature by Sarah James:
I was very happy to be asked to review this supper club as I don’t think that I’ve had Guajarati food since I lived in Leicester in the mid 1980s. Although my partner and I are both meat eaters; the majority of our meals tend to be fish or vegetarian, and the opportunity to have a home cooked Guajarati meal was very appealing in terms of trying something new and something we don’t make ourselves.
Prior to the evening our host, Devesh, emailed us all with the full menu and a fingernail portrait of each other so that we didn’t feel as if we were meeting total strangers. Our rather handsome host (not sure if I’m supposed to say that!) welcomed us warmly, and introduced the concept of Pushpa’s kitchen. Pushpa herself would remain an enigma, although all the recipes were hers and she had made some of the food (the fudge in course 7). Devesh explained that his mother had a very light touch with the spices, and this indeed proved to be true. Everything was subtle, with very little heat (to the relief of one of the diners who described herself as having a very English palate.) We were treated to a viewing of a typical Guajareti spice tin, and all the food had been made using different combinations of these spices.
Course 1 – Fenugreek and ginger banana pakora served with a date and tamarind dressing.
(Ingredients: Broccoli, Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, Dried Dates, Tamarind, Carbonated Water, Plain Flour, Corn Flour, Baking Powder, Ground Cumin, Red Chilli, Black Pepper, Ginger, Green Chillies, Salt, Ground Coriander, Asafoetida Powder, Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, Fresh Fenugreek).
This was my favourite dish of the evening. So often Pakora is really doughy and heavy, but this was light and utterly delicious and the dressing lovely.
Course 2 – Spiced kenyan aubergine and red potato in a peanut, green pea and tomato sauce served with a spiced yogurt dressing and yellow lentil rice.
(Ingredients: Kenyan Aubergine, Red Potato, Tomato, Green Peas, Pigeon Peas, Water, Plain Yogurt, Greek Style Yogurt, Ground Peanuts, Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Red Chilli Powder, Asafoetida Powder, Tumeric, Salt, Sugarcane, Mustard Seeds, Curry Leaves, Green Chilli, Garlic, Gram Flour, Olive Oil, Fresh Coriander.)
I asked why this used a Kenyan aubergine as it didn’t seem obvious; Puspha is very definite that they must be Kenyan small aubergines as they are less watery. I would happily have this as a main course.
Course 3 – Split Chickpea and Bottle Gourd Savoury Cakes served with a coconut chutney and deep fried chickpea flour noodles.
(Ingredients: Bottle Gourd, Split Chickpeas, Coconut, Urad Lentils, Gram Flour, Rice Flour, Greek Yogurt, Plain Yogurt, Water, Wheat Flour, Gram Flour, Curry Leaves, Salt, Tumeric, Asafoetida Powder, Green Chilli, Ginger, Mustard Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, Fresh Coriander.)
Light and fluffy, these would make a wonderful snack. By this point I was already starting to feel quite full!
Course 4 – 3 way vegetable platter – spiced red and green peppers, spiced pointed gourd, spiced cabbage and carrot served with deep fried puri flatbreads.
(Ingredients: Red and Green Pepper, Pointed Gourd, Cabbage, Carrot, Water, Butter, Plain Yogurt, Wheat, Semolina Flour, Chapati Flour, Ground Peanuts, Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Sugarcane, Salt, Tumeric, Red Chilli Powder, Asafoetida Powder, Green Chilli, Garlic, Mustard Seeds, Sugar, Olive Oil, Fresh Coriander.)
I really liked the spiced cabbage and carrot, and may well try to replicate this ar home. I know that I don’t have the skills to attempt the puri though!
Course 5 – Pan fried quinoa served with a fresh coriander and garlic chutney, deep fried chickpea flour noodles, crumbled poppadoms, and a spiced yogurt dressing.
(Ingredients: Quinoa, Poppadoms, Semi Skimmed Milk, Plain Yogurt, Water, Mustard Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Salt, Brown Sugar, Sugarcane, Tumeric, Bicarbonate of Soda, White Pepper, Water, Ground Peanuts, Garlic, Green Chilli, Lime, Gram Flour, Sunflower Oil, Olive oil, Fresh Coriander.)
Some really interesting ideas on this plate. It was during this course that my partner and our host discovered that not only had they both learnt Sanskrit at school, it was the same school!
Course 6 – 3 way lentil and bean platter – spiced yellow lentils, spiced sprouted mung beans and spiced chickpea and bottle gourd served with freshly baked flatbreads.
(Ingredients: Yellow Lentils, Sprouted Mung Beans, Chickpeas, Water, Tomato, Bottle Gourd, Wheat Flour, Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Sugarcane, Salt, Tumeric, Red Chilli Powder, Asafoetida Powder, Green Chilli, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard Seeds, Curry Leaves, Olive Oil, Fresh Coriander.)
I was feeling about ready to pop by this stage! Again, it was all delicious (though I did leave some of the flatbread in the interest of my waistline!
Course 7 – Pistachio topped sugarcane fudge served with mango ice cream.
(Ingredients: Mango, Double Cream, Vanilla Essence, Mint, Caster Sugar, Gram Flour, Ghee, Semi Skimmed Milk, Sugarcane, Cardamon, Almonds, Pistachio.)
At this point I had to admit defeat, I was just too full. However, my partner thoroughly enjoyed this, especially the fudge made by Pushpa herself.
Course 8 – Spiced sweet tea and puff pastry and cumin biscuits
(Ingredients: Tea, Fresh Tea Leaves, Ginger, Cinnamon, Tea Masala, Semi Skimmed Milk, Butter Wheat Flour, Salt, Brown Sugar, Olive Oil, Caraway Seeds.)
One of the guests took the lovely pastry home for her breakfast – I could imagine that this would be wonderful with a coffee in the morning. (My partner did eat all of his – so it must have been good)
Devesh cooked calmly throughout the evening, and was more than happy for us to ask any questions about the food and its preparation.
The supper club is held weekly on a Thursday with a series of different menus on offer. It’s a fabulous way to get to try real home cooked Guajarati food, prepared by someone who really understands what he is doing (and who can read Sanskrit!)
Pushpa’s supper club can be found on their Facebook Page and through Meetup