Secret Kitchen menu, 19th Nov 2011
Sipsmith gin and tonic with grapefruit
Tarka dal and makhani dal
with naan breads
Tandoori chicken from the wood-fired oven,
saffron rice, rogan josh, cauliflower bhaji, Kashmiri style kale,
carrot raita, tomato & cucumber kachumber, mango chutney
Cardamom kulfi with rose-scented quince and pistachios
Coffee, mint tea, liqueurs and mukhwas
About tonight’s menu
I have never been to India. But like many in Britain I have grown up with the flavours and loved making curry at home.
Tonight’s menu was initially inspired by a visit to Southall in the summer, where we found streets lined with boxes of mangos (some of which became tonight’s chutney), shops full of every kind of dal, spice and vegetable you could want, and a very good Punjabi restaurant called Roxy.
It was here we first had pani puri (little crisp puffs filled with chickpeas and zingy tamarind sauce) and dal makhani (a rich dal made with black lentils, kidney beans and plenty of ghee, milk and cream).
Rogan josh, cauliflower bhaji and tarka dal are long-term favourites in this house. The tarka, by the way, is the spice scented ghee you throw into the dal at the last minute, made with mustard seeds, shallots, garlic and curry leaves.
Many of the recipes I have used tonight come from my two favourite Indian cookbook writers – Madhur Jaffrey, the well-known actress-turned-author, and Laxmi Hiremath, a wonderful Indian cook I met during my culinary training in San Francisco. Buy their books – their recipes are the real deal.