Monday, 4 April 2016

Something a Bit Special #9 Mastering the Art of Cooking Well and Eating Even Better at East India Café

Kingsley and I eat out a lot (as you know). It never gets boring because we both have a passion for good food, but it is exciting to try something a bit different to the norm every now and then; and that’s exactly what we did at East India Café one Sunday.

Now, I’ve eaten lunch at East India Café before, and you can read more about the type of food they serve here. In summary, it’s called Anglo-Indian cuisine and it’s the same style of food that was served to the British Raj, so it’s really quite different to your usual Indian restaurant experience. 

On the last Sunday of every month they put on a masterclass in the restaurant, each one with a different theme. Gymkhana was the theme on our visit; this is a term used by the British Raj to refer to a Gentleman’s club - not a sports day involving ponies, which is what the word had previously meant to me!

The masterclass appeals to people for various reasons; it’s a good chance for couples or friends to do something fun together, for those that can’t cook to learn, and for those that love cooking to learn new recipes and styles. But what I really loved about it was what I alluded to in my opening paragraph, for us, it was a truly fantastic way to ‘do lunch’.
We were welcomed with a sherbet drink which was beautifully sweet and served chilled; it’s made with rose water. We then took our seats ready for the banquet to begin.

So how did the masterclass work? Well, there were four courses on the menu, and the chefs at East India Café demonstrated how to make each course – with a bit of audience participation of course. As the demonstration is taking place, you learn lots about the ingredients and cooking processes; and there’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions too. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the rest of the team are hard at work preparing the same course, ready to serve to their eager and hungry audience as soon as the demonstration is finished. When the plates are clear, the next course is demonstrated and so on.

So what did we eat? We started with Steamed Asparagus and Baby Corn with Spinach and Poppy Seed Puree with Green Chutney. This, as with all the courses was beautifully plated up, and it was great to be eating something that you knew would be possible to re-create at home (well, that’s the idea anyway).  For our second starter (yep, second starter – how fab is that?!) we cooked up and then ate Lemon Duck Tikka. The duck goes through two marinations and is then ideally barbecued and served with salad. We made an Almond and Rocket salad to accompany our duck and alongside this we also had some lasun chutney. The tender duck went perfectly with the crunch of the almonds. With no third starter to go onto, it was then time for the main course which was Sea Bass Dopiaza. This was served in a sea shell alongside rice which was ever so delicately flavoured using lemon zest. For dessert, we had Bengal Coconut Crumble. Being a crumble, this had been cooked up in the kitchen, so we talked about how to make it whilst making the caramel custard to drizzle on top. Dessert was served with the custard and a very cute lolly pop made of rose, pistachio and milk. Kingsley declared it as his favourite EVER dessert!!! It was pretty fandabidozi and I’ve already stored the recipe away ready to make the best crumble my family have ever tasted! The good thing about making this dish up at home is that the whole saucepan of caramel custard will be…mine, all mine!!! Mwahaha.

We left East India Café with full tummies, the recipes to re-create each dish again and a bag full of goodies. What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Highly recommended for cooks, won’t cooks, eaters and foodies.

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