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.

Advertisements

One is the Loneliest Number (Part Two)

True story: I walked past Jay Rayner the other day whilst house hunting around Herne Hill.

It was the weekend of the Lambeth County Fair in Brockwell Park. I’m sure it was much to his displeasure that we did not engage in conversation as he headed east and I west to Britxon, ships passing in silence on this scorching hot day. It looked like he had put on a little weight since I had last seen him on the telebox but was still striding onwards with relish, curly black locks soaring majestically behind him.

Definitely would have made a good Death Eater

I don’t cite that he had put on a little weight as a criticism. I’m dead impressed that someone in his profession doesn’t need to be carted around like Pearl the Vampire from the original Blade movie. I would certainly need to be.  Although I suppose Peter Griffin look-a-like Charle Campion is on a slippery slope.

Sorry for the low-blow Chazzer

Anyway the point to this being that seeing Jay Rayner reminded me that since my first entry into this article series, I read a great piece by him in the Guardian about the pleasures of cooking for yourself entitled Cooking for one: it’s food with someone you really loveI’d recommend reading the whole thing but wanted to highlight this part:

‘Don’t get me wrong: I like cooking for other people (and if any of my family are reading this, really darlings, nothing gives me more joy than keeping you fed). But cooking only for yourself, well now, that’s the real deal. I am always baffled when anyone announces they don’t bother bashing the pans about if they are the only person who needs to eat. My conclusion is they’re not greedy enough. Cook for others and, however appreciative, there will always be something they don’t like…Cooking for yourself is…a culinary event without compromise.’

And with that endorsement under our belt, we push on!

One-pot Chicken Pilaf

Speed: 25 minutes
Cost: £7 approx
Taste/variety of ingredients: Pretty uninspiring stuff, but was good to have chicken thighs instead of breast whilst the other half was out for dinner (yes, chicken thighs are a new addition to the malleable blacklist).
Leftovers: Another portion, tucked neatly between 2 eggs and an Innocent smoothie the fridge.

Link to recipe in title above. Fairly average tasting although weirdly got better as it cooled down. I wonder if leaving the lid on at the end for a bit once the spinach has been added to let the flavours stew in together would have brought it together more.

Could also definitely have done with some lemon juice, coriander and a dollop of creme fraiche stirred in at the end. Did liven up with a good dose of cayenne pepper which helped. Still good amount of veg and protein for a very quick, inexpensive and easy dish.

Sri Lankan & Spanish Omelette

Speed: 12 minutes
Cost: £9 approx
Taste/variety of ingredients: Yes, it’s an omelette, but its the best omelette I have ever made and possibly consumed. Details below.
Leftovers: None

All the ingredients below featured but it was the mix of good quality chorizo (Bath Pig) and green chili that really made it sing. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the contents of a Spanish omelette (potato, onions) but we got quite hooked on Sri Lankan omelettes during our hols last year. Its basically just a thin omelette with tons of chili. Beaut.