Forget the traditional Easter Sunday lunch of Roast Lamb and all the trimmings – this year Adam and I indulged ourselves with a taste of Anglo-Indian cuisine at East India Café’s four course lunch and cookery demonstration in Cheltenham, and my goodness what a treat it was.
East India Café draws on the café culture of the British Raj; in their own words, they “take the same recipes & creations from the Khansamas, and transform them with our own twist”. Every month, they host a spectacular cookery demonstration; when we visited, the menu consisted of colonial Indian dishes that originated from the Dak Bungalow, and we were provided with our own set of cookery guidance to annotate and enable us to recreate the magic at home ourselves.
Before I go any further, I must just say how welcome we were made to feel – the atmosphere was warm, friendly and relaxed, and the chefs were both incredibly passionate about the food they were creating. We were given a beautiful homemade non-alcoholic cocktail as a welcome drink, which contained rose syrup, rose water, lemon juice, basil seeds and psyllium husk…so delicious and refreshing!
So, how did the demonstration and masterclass work, I hear you ask? After finishing our rose drinks, we were seated facing the chef’s table with little name plates out in front of us. I have to say, I felt a little like I was on Saturday Morning Kitchen, which only added to the excitement for me personally. We were given masterclass recipe books which contained all the dishes we were going to sample, as well helpful hints and tips on where to find the best ingredients.
We were all invited to take part in the experience and assist with elements of the masterclass – helping stir, mix and melt as required. The interactive nature of the masterclass really ensured that we all understood how to recreate the dishes and gave us an opportunity to ask plenty of questions about the processes too. Whilst we were sat learning how to make one course, the same course was being cooked for us by the chef in the kitchen, which was then presented to us to devour. Once we had devoured a course the plates were cleared and we began work on the next course, assisting where needed, until all courses had been made, sampled and then cleared.
During our Dak Bungalow masterclass, we sampled two starter dishes, a main and dessert. The first starter on the menu was Samosa Chaat – a deconstructed samosa – which contained chickpeas, potato, turmeric, minced lamb, onion, coriander and kashmiri chilli among other ingredients, garnished with pomegranate and red amaranth. This dish was probably my favourite of the masterclass; it tasted so fresh and each different ingredient shone though to create a taste sensation which built up with every mouthful. I’m looking forward to recreating this next time we have friends over for dinner.
Next up for our second (yes, second…!) starter, was marinated tuna steak; I am by no means a lover of tuna, but I did enjoy what I sampled of this dish and would definitely be tempted to try it a second time. Adam however was totally bowled over by the flavours and cannot wait to put this dish to the test on the BBQ in the summer.
At this point, we decided to try a few cocktails off the rather inventive libation menu – I chose the Diplomat’s cocktail – a vermouth based cocktail bursting full of papaya, lemon, rose and maraschino cherry, whilst Adam enjoyed a very alcoholic Mint Julep – this contained whisky and peach brandy, and our hostess even came to check that Adam understood how alcoholic it was. The drinks, as with the food, were presented with lovely decorative garnishes and looked as good as they tasted.
Drinks ordered, we moved on to our main course, and my turn to play kitchen assistant. We whipped up a divine Chicken Jalfrezi, beautifully presented in a decorative cabbage leaf, with lemon rice, pickles and a second portion of Jalfrezi on the side to boot. It was so fresh, incredibly tasty and completely unique; unlike any curry I have previously enjoyed.
Finally, when we were feeling like we couldn’t possibly fit any more food in our full to bursting bellies, we finished with a Chilli Chocolate and Rose Truffle accompanied with Chai. The truffle was huge; full of chopped nuts, rose and chilli, then rolled in nuts and served with a chocolate sauce.
The Chai was made with soy milk, which was a nice touch and showed that East India Café care about their customers with food allergies too. To cap it off, we were given a goody bag to take away with us, as well as the recipes for the dishes we had enjoyed.
If you haven’t been to East India Café yet for a masterclass, or to enjoy a meal, I urge you to go just as soon as you can – I promise you won’t regret it!