What a delightful evening at The Spice Club, North Manchester.
Let’s start at the beginning. To join the supper club, you need to contact Monica through their website (http://spiceclubmanchester.com/). But since they were on the Hairy Bikers on the BBC, supply outstrips demand. We were on a waiting list for a while, and jumped at the opportunity to go on Saturday night when two places freed up.
24 hours before the event, you’re sent details of the location and instructions. We were asked to arrive at 7.30pm – and to please be punctual. You’re invited to bring your own drinks either soft or alcoholic.
We arrived with a few minutes to spare. The room was beautifully decorated, and was laid out with 3 tables of 8 people each. Each person had a name tag, and on our table we had: Flo, Mel, Richard, Lindis, Sue, Jon, Tim and I. It was quite weird that we were at a table with a bunch of people we didn’t know and felt a little like some weddings where you’ve been seated at a random table. But our crowd was certainly interesting and good company. Unsurprisingly, everyone around our table had a passion for food, so much of the conversation centred around food. If there were a prize for the most enthusiastic foodie, it would certainly have gone to Mel, who offered a few good tips on local Farmers’ Markets.
Once seated, we were greeted with a home made home made Indian lemonade. And when everyone had arrived, starters were served: Shammy Kebabs. These look nothing like what we would think a kebab would look like. In fact, they looked a little like small fishcakes, but made from Channa dal (lentils) blended with soya and seasoned with coriander and Indian spices.
That certainly whet the appetite. So when the main courses came out, it was a little like a feeding frenzy! The dishes included the following:
Punjabi Pakora Kadhi – made from onion pakoras mixed in a creamy, spicy yoghurt sauce. Channa Masala – chick peas cooked in fresh ginger, garlic and tomatoes, seasoned with traditional Indian spices and fresh coriander. Paneer Methi Bhurji – this Pièce de résistance was made from home-made Indian cottage cheese, cooked in spiced yoghurt with fresh fenugreek and peas. Aloo Baingan – Baby aubergines cooked in an onion, garlic and ginger masala. All the above were served with a fresh salad, which included radish, cucumber, red onions and tomatoes. Of course I shouldn’t forget Anita’s amazing Chappatis (roti) and Basmati rice that we just couldn’t get enough of. It seemed that everyone around the table cited a different dish as their favourite. I struggled to choose a favourite, although the dish I enjoyed more than I would have guessed I would, was the Pakora Kadhi, as I am generally not a pakora fan. But I am definitely converted!
There was more to come. Once again, I was not looking forward to dessert. My experience of Indian desserts can be summed up in one word: “disappointing”. However, not this time! When the home made Mango Basil Sorbet, on top of sweet cardamom cream yoghurt layered, combined with roasted almonds, came out, I just couldn’t get enough of it. I was tempted to ask if there was more!
And lastly, the meal was rounded off with a cup of Elaichi Chai – traditional cardamom flavoured Indian tea. Again – I was so pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know whether I would like it as my last Chai cuppa at the posh tea shop left we underwhelmed, but I loved it!
Finally, what does it all cost? Well, ultimately it costs what you want to pay. There is a minimum donation of £25 per person, but you can fill your envelope with however many notes and coins as you believe the meal was worthy.
Our names remain on Monica’s list to join further cooking courses. But I am going to see whether we can arrange a supper club of our own, and ask Monica and Anita whether they would consider cooking for us, if we can get enough people together. Watch this space!