Curry Club 2013 ‘Winter Formal’: Gymkhana

‘Dieu et mon Dahl’
The Curry Club Credo

If you are interested in finding out more about the illustrious history of Curry Club, please click here. For the 2011/2012 full season write up, click here.

The 2012/2013 season started on an impeccably high note. Member Saltieri (incumbent Curry Ace) treated all that attended to a masterclass in curry-based event planning: a 3-pint paddle apiece at The Woodman, an outstanding meal at Varanasi Chefs and a decampment to Bunga Bunga so debauched it would have made its patron saint proud.

The people's champion

The people’s champion

“Best Curry Club ever!”

“That won’t be topped for the rest of the season!”

“Where the hell is Boxing Steve?”

As the Club dispersed into that fateful winter night, unbeknownst to all, these superlatives wielded a double-edged sword. For from this dizzying height, the Club was doomed to wander the proverbial wilderness for the rest of the season. A few spatterings here and there to the odd curry house, but with no real direction or sense of purpose. Member Dirtbox deserves an honourable mention here for his valiant attempts to maintain the banner in turbulent winds.

What a hero

Hero

However, the Club (and indeed man himself) did not get to where it is today by dwelling on past mistakes. The only thing to salvage the situation and rub a soothing cumin-based salve into open wounds was, of course, a winter formal for the festive season. One that would promise a bountiful 2014; a year of goodwill to all men and plenty of well-spiced Dhansaks.

And where better a location than Gymkhana? A self-described fusion of the Colonial Raj and modern British cuisine that has been the recipient of stellar reviews across the board. My favourite here by Jay Rayner who asks the more than appropriate question: Why do we balk at spending money on expensive Indian food?

After some predictable naysaying from members Dyson and Glenhole, the date was set for Saturday 7th December.

Like the Bullingdon Club...except with curry, limited prospects and haggling over £20 on the bill

Like the Bullingdon Club…except with curry, limited prospects and haggling over £20 on the bill

The whole experience was certainly a far-cry away from the usual fare. As the Club descended into the dimly lit vault room in the cosy bowels of the venue, even member Glenhole was momentarily silenced by the resplendent décor.

New member Danger Fleming chose to open proceedings with an off the cuff speech. He later shared his extensive notes with me so I could prepare my own between the Gilafi Pheasant Seekh Kebab and Kasoori Turkey Tikka. I post them below in their entirety in case anyone else is ever in need of emergency speech preparation techniques:

– Welcome
– Thank Johnny (mispelt)
– Something about curry

Amid some unusual but refreshing cocktails such as The Spice Monopoly and the Ooty Town Gimlet, member Kev led the Club through the Curry Prayer which was respectfully observed by all. It was then that the six course tasting menu (preceeded, thankfully, by a healthy smattering of poppadoms and chutney) came thick and fast.

Aside from the aforementioned Kebab and Tikka, the Club noshed down Potato Chat, Lasooni Wild Tiger Prawns (a firm favourite), Kid Goat Methi Keema, Suckling Pig Vindaloo, Garlic Crab and Saffron Pistachio Kulfi Falooda. Oustanding. Every last morsel spiced to perfection. Everyone in harmonious agreement.

However, grizzled patrons of the Club will know better than anyone that discord is rarely struck amongst the food. But member politics prove time and time again to be a hotbed, with certain members constantly getting ideas above their meagre station. The self-styled Che Guevara of the lower tables, member Glenhole was insufferable throughout the meal and did not abate in his heckling of the top table throughout proceedings. Needless to say, his presence was artfully struck from the photo above by member Dyson.

'History is written by the top table.'

‘History is written by the top table.’

After the food and many half-baked speeches, it was onto karoake for some dulcet renditions of Rocketman, Oasis and a very peculiar song that member Danger chose and no one else knew the words to.

A resounding evening that has reaffirmed the foundations that the Club was built on. Bring on January!

Member Skinny Pete will of course start the 2014 season at -1 points for bringing a bird along.

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Raita Here, Raita Now

Apologies to the owners of the two pairs of phantom hands

Apologies to the owners of the two pairs of the hash-tagging phantom hands

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a tipsy man in possession of a good hunger, must be in want of a curry.’

Amen.

I had started to rack up an increasing food debt with a few friends of mine so I decided to wipe the slate clean and have an Indian themed bash. Amongst these friends (above) lurks a vegetarian and I had been somewhat nervous about how to cater for a majority of carnivores with him in the midst. My main issue was that my go-to dishes for entertaining normally involve a massive hunk of meat with trimmings bringing up the rear.

I’ll admit in my weaker moments planning this evening,  part of me wanted to fob him off with a Linda McCartney Bean Burger and be done with it. However, as he had put on two stellar Mexican evenings round his in quick succession, I thought I had better step up. And what better cuisine to step up with than Indian; the home of vegetarianism. So here’s what I did:

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Starter

Poppadoms with homemade raita, homemade piccalilli and mango chutney

Piccalilli presence - raised a few conservative eyebrows

Piccalilli presence – raised a few conservative eyebrows

Raita - simples

Raita – simples

Main

Roasted Veg Vindaloo with Curried Chicken Skewers

Dry Chili Paneer

Mushroom Bhaiji

Homemade Naan Breads with mango and raisins (not exact recipe on link but more or less, real one in Bread)

Basmati rice

Paneer - didn't quite soak up the flavours as I'd hoped

Paneer – didn’t quite soak up the flavours as I’d hoped

But came out OK I suppose (for a veggie dish)

But came out OK I suppose (for a veggie dish)

 

Mushroom Bhaji - suprising star of the show

Mushroom Bhaji – surprising star of the show

Dessert

Haagen-Dazs (apparently all that was left at Sainsbury’s on the way up…but at 1 a.m. was pretty decent)

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The food got demolished which is always a good sign. Unbelievably the whole meal only cost £52. It fed 8 but could have stretched to more.* No wonder people decide to be veggie!

Post-dinner it was into the lounge for a heated game of Trivial Pursuit (won by yours truly and the veggie, our erudite pairing seeing off two other teams of three). The question that swung it: who was Darth Maple?

Then as the evening wound down we tried to make a cocktail out of what remained in the fridge and our eclectic collection of half-drunk spirit bottles. Three different rums, concentrated lemon juice, soda water, caster sugar and a huge amount of mint might have tasted good at the time, but it made the tidying up the next morning a Herculean task.

*George – if you’re reading I am truly sorry.