Last week I was fortunate enough to be part of Little Kolkata‘s supper club. There’s this cozy feeling and intimacy that I really like in a supper club. No fancy or extravagant settings, it’s just pure love and passion for food – that’s why I love them. You get to learn a lot about every dish you’re eating and you also get to interact more with the chef. It’s all in all a very unique and all-rounded experience.
“A Bengali is born to eat literally…the clan saw no issue in having three different verbs that do the same thing eating, drinking or smoking, so they decided to stick to one. In Bangla (the language) you ‘eat’ everything, from fish to water to your favourite brand of cigarettes. The idea is not to labour on ‘how’ it is being consumed but ‘what’ is being consumed.”
Prabir and Bishu, both originally from Kolkata, are Londoners for years now. Outside their professional jobs, they’re also very passionate about their home food. And here comes Little Kolkata – an extension of their home cooking to the public. This supper club, Bengali Bengali, is their very first supper club to the public. It includes a 6 course Bengali feast plus drinks and nibbles.
Drinks & Nibbles
As you arrive, you’re first served with Saboo Papad, i.e. tapioca root pappadums, plus a drink of your choice. These pappadums were like prawn crackers, but instead of that savoury pran flavour, it’s replaced by this subtle coconut and glutinous taste. It’s really light to taste, hence the perfect nibble. I quite liked dipping them into the chilli ketchup to add a kick of spice to it.
First off we were served with these aubergine fritters, paired with a sweet green chilli sauce or Bengali mustard. I liked how the aubergines are quite thinly sliced rather than being really thick and chunky. The coating was of a beautiful golden colour and carries a light crisp. Personally I didn’t find this dish particularly memorable or impressive. It’s a very home-style dish and I would like to see a kick of spice and seasoning on the frying batter to elevate the dish.
Nevertheless, I think the sauces helped out this dish a lot. The sweet green chilli sauce was definitely one interesting one. Made mainly with green chillies, mango, sugar and vinegar, the sauce carry a nice hint of sweetness at first but hit you with the heat afterwards. As for the mustard, even though I don’t like mustard, I actually ended up enjoying it more. It has a good punch of flavours but not overpowering.
Keema Ghugni Chaat
This spicy tangy lamb mince & yellow peas dish was served in a traditional Indian leaf bowl. I love the visuals of this dish, especially the addition of the cherry tomatoes which adds colours to it.
The lamb was mildly spiced and adds flavours to the ghuni chaat. The ghuni chaat was all mashed up to a mushy texture, which I actually really like. Other than the crunchy texture from the sev (the small pieces of crunchy noodles on top) and red onions, they also incorporated coconut into the mashed yellow peas which further adds another layer of texture to it. It’s definitely a very comforting and satisfying dish – quite filling as well for a starter. In my opinion, the lamb could use a stronger kick of spice to elevate the dish.
Luchi & Aloo Dumm
This good old Indian classic dish is for sure one that everyone would love. I absolutely loved the kick of spice in it. Though described as gently spiced, it was the most spiced dish of the entire meal. I think the amount of spice was just right while a couple of other dishes seem to be comparatively underwhelming. The tangy-ness and heat creates an explosive dance of flavours.
As for the luchi – who doesn’t like these fried puffed breads?! They were freshly fried and look beautifully golden and puffy. It wasn’t greasy at all and were perfect to wipe off all that delicious spices from the Aloo Dumm. We asked for an extra portion of luchi as well just because they are such perfect nibbles!
Ghee Bhaat & Daal
Rice & Daal is such a simple but classic comfort food in Bengali cuisine. This dish consists rice tossed in clarified butters with lentils. Despite being a non-photogenic home dish, Little Kolkata managed to figure out a way to present it nicely by using lotus leaf to contain the rice in the centre with daal all around it. As a final touch, a little strand of coriander is used to garnish on top, which adds a swift of elegance to this humble home dish.
This dish was my absolute favourite of the day. It might come as rather surprising – I did not quite believe myself at first but as the flavours sink in, I fell in love with it. It’s also an absolutely genius idea to serve this after the Aloo Dumm because the two dishes create such contrast in flavours. While the Aloo Dumm is more punchy to the palate, the Ghee Bhaat & Daal offers a more mellow sensation to balance it out.
Porota & Mangoshor Rezala
If you have been wondering where the meat is, here it is! For the final main course, there’s this dish consisting chicken that’s slowed cooked in a cashew gravy made with milk and nut paste.
The chicken was really tender as it easily falls apart at the touch of the fork. The cashew gravy was really rich and velvety. When complemented with the very buttery porota (the flaked bread), it creates a very rich and full-bodied satisfaction to the taste buds. After eating all these courses, I must say the dish felt a bit heavy after a good couple of bites. Though the menu says the dish ‘comes with a slight zing of fried chillies’, I felt, again, it needed more of a kick.
Saffron Mishti Doi
I wasn’t particularly keen on this at the beginning as I’m not a fan of yoghurt. However, this little baked yoghurt dessert that’s infused with saffron actually completely changed my mind.
First of all, I love how it’s served in this adorable little pot with a strand of saffron elegantly laying on top – simple but very effective. The flavour was very delicate and that rich consistency was absolutely to die for.
Cardamom Coffee Brownie with Clotted Cream Ice Cream
It’s just really funny how at first I only had my eyes on the brownie but after having the Mishti Doi the brownie just got completely threw off the spotlight. Regardless, brownie is still one of my most favourite desserts ever. Coffee brownies I’ve seen many times. But here they incorporated cardamon in it as well to add a Bengali flair to it.
I thought it was very unique to add that touch of cardamon to a brownie. I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of that but I liked it. It’s definitely quite striking to the palate but not at all overpowering. The taste of coffee was relatively subtle and there’s all in all a very well balanced flavour. For the brownie itself, I would like it to be more gooey in texture and wished it comes out warmer as well.
To sum things up, it was such a joyous experience at the Little Kolkata supper club. It was very inspiring to see people pursuing after their passion. It was a very cozy and sweet session accompanied by delicious comfort food. There’s so much love and passion oozing out from all that home-style food. They also prepared us all a goodie bag, consisting Prabir’s home baked cookies and a little jar of cardamon. It has been a successful first supper club and there’s definitely a lot of potential. I wish Little Kolkata the best of luck in the future with more supper clubs to come and keep growing!