Monday, 25 January 2010

Joginder’s Supperclub

To experience home-cooked meals that I have hitherto only dreamt about can only prolong the usual: life’s good, so breathe and seek; for there’s good and honest cooking to be found. I’ve known that my Mum* was an ace cook between the age of 1.8 and ten, till I was sent away to Rottingdean as a boarder together with my even younger brother. During my time there I managed to teach myself how to embrace school dinners and the way the English eat- absolute flavours were hardly omnipotent and strange flaws in cooking (erm like boiling carrots as a way of insulting nature) were normal. But these dishes I had at school were heart-warming, so much so that they brought home the bacon. I’ve learnt to be tolerant on what’s presented on my plate from my mate Jase of Essex (chopped up pepperami and bum-crushed salt & vinegar crisps as a filling for baked spuds) to a life changing tasting menu at The Ledbury. A self appointed reviewer like myself have to take and respect everything in context- like circumstances, constraints and oft harsh, realities.

My ex-wife works in the food industry (more than likely that you’ve probably tasted one of her ready-made meal creations from the posher supermarkets) and it was her who educated me on the not so fine line differences between home-cooked and restaurant food. With restaurant food you’ll need all the necessities that you’re paying for, be it the cooking, freshness, seasoning, presentation and value- no excuses as they have to be mutually related. The agenda for home-cooked meals comes from a different stratosphere, for as long as Denise and Dave Best (from The Royle Family- re. The New Sofa) are not cooking the meal - the resultant experience suggests that the warmth and the homecoming obliterates everything else. She also said that with any half decent home cooking one can be assured that dehydration hardly figures. Restaurants use too much salt and as well as most processed food- we rely too much on it and refuse to accept that it’s harmful to us.

So some of you readers who might me feeling tetchy with my waffling by now then let me at least proclaim that Joginder’s Supperclub is 2 die 4. My best buddy KC (a distinguished restaurateur as well as an award winning industrial designer) concluded his evening there as wonderful for it was the home-cooked meal that made it so. The last time KC and I had an Indian was eight years ago and that was at Rasa Samudra in Fitzrovia. Psychologically (yes I’m damn sure that’s the case), Indian and KC’s digestive system have always been at odds but at long bloody last I think Joginder’s has remedied that! KC, Southall next stop!

I consider myself preposterous for not having enough Indian friends, well not close enough anyway, to invite me to their abodes for some real curry dinners. So when Joginder’s Supperclub was referred to me a couple of months ago by MsM (yes I know her name keeps cropping up and we can never agree on the prenups) I jumped at the chance! JS is a new curry supper club in North London and the brainchild of mum and daughter squad, Rani and Saira respectively. The well-versed Ma Rani is and cooks Punjabi and the exemplary Saira, a gifted front of house. A word of mention deservedly goes to the man about the house, Pa Graham who manages to keep everyone chugging along with some friendly pleasantries. And if cricket is your thing then he’s your man twice over.

I’m a sucker for debut evenings and suitably ensured that a place was put aside for me at JS’s. That was over two months ago when my sensory smells went awol. In spite of the temporary disability I was convinced that the meal I had then was something special, so much so I came back here the second time. So let’s hit it with the food pics.

Debut night, November 14, 2009-

Punjabi Pakoras
What some of us (the uninformed like myself) might perceive as
bhajjis but the above is the correct terminology. These besan (gram flour) battered morsels are made with sweet onion, potato, fresh spinach, yoghurt and spices. Utterly fluffy and near greaseless: delicious with the glass of bubbly.

Lamb Kebab with accompanying five a day
Think seekh kebab that's been shaped into a burger patty. Lovingly made and beautifully spiced. Only appreciable by those who with discerning tastes.

Fresh Masala Chicken
The below description by Ma Rani was copy and pasted from the original November menu on JS's site. It was one of the teases that made my mouth water!

''the meat is on the bone as it is the only way to get the full flavour and it falls off the bone when cooked. It is locally sourced from Indian butchers because the chicken has much more flavour and texture. I learnt to cook this dish from my mother and father and have been cooking it for 30 years for family and friends. My father’s version consisted of going off to buy a ‘fresh’ chicken (somewhere in Kent) which then had to be plucked and gutted. I am not sure how my turn came to do the gutting but I would have been grateful for rubber gloves in days gone by! Thankfully I can now go to my Indian butcher and get him to wear the gloves and come home with my lovely fresh chicken. I am trying to convince him to post pictures on the website so do watch this space.''

This has to be JS's signature dish. Chicken on the bone is the way to go and sadly dismissed by most Indian restos who through no fault of their own (blame the majority of the Brits for that) have to resort to using tasteless and bleached white breast meat. This dish tasted remarkably accomplished and I can no reason why it shouldn't appear on all the menus of JS's future dates.
Might as well reserve the word yummy for this.

Sardines for the veggiepeskyterians
Didn't get to taste it but the smell from the spices was immense.

In addition to the above and not captured by the camera, there were the following-

Spicy Fish Curry- one of the best fish curries I’ve enjoyed and together with the chicken curry, a standing applause for this standout dish!
Tarka Dhal
Channa (chickpeas)
Saag Aloo- I was informed that the inclusion of potatoes was paramount as they soak up the vital juices left by Popeye’s staple and heavenly spices
Spicy Mutton Curry- there was so much food on the table that I didn’t pay enough attention to this dish; it became somewhat perfunctory. I did have a bit but shoot me, as I couldn’t recall what it tasted like! Oh well there’s always another chance.

JS is thankfully BYO, if you want my advice, go and splash out on a bottle of Alsace Riesling or better still Gevootz.

Preparing masala chai
(spiced tea if you don't mind)

If you like Chai Latte then this is the real thing.
Perfect for the digestion after the epic meal.

Indian sweetmeats
Since I went back to smoking my fondness for sweet things has lapsed. Sadly I passed on this.

A hallowed Indian mouth freshner consisting of fennel and anise seeds, nuts, pepermint and other essential oils but no fluoride. I could munch on this all day long and perish my chronic 'ashtray breath' reputation.

Second night January 16-

Vegetable Kebabs

The distinguished Masala Chicken, which tasted as good as the first time but this time with the bones removed (to appease the guests I think, personally I don’t believe in improvisations. I’m a stickler for authenticity and I get worked up by changes that interfere with the raison d'être. And that goes for the level of spiciness as well, if it was meant to be hot then let it be). Other dishes that appeared on the table included another marvellous fish curry, the Joginder’s Fish Bhuna (using a Vietnamese catfish known as Basa fish), loads of delightful Lamb Keema, Paneer Keema (I can’t help but think paneer tastes identical to coarse tofu- love it), Saag Aloo (my Bengali friend Taps keeps correcting people not to pronounce the dish as one word like saagaloo but two separate words shaag aloo!) and dhal. Rice and homemade rotis provided the carb elements.

Well chuffed and well stuffed!

The leftovers.
You see JS lives by its intention. Both Rani and Saira ensure that nobody leaves their dining room hungry.

Fruit Salad with Ice Cream

Experimental Blancmange
I adored this milk pudding and I think Ma Rani called it something like phrini. It had the same consistency as Tau Foo Fah, a sweet soy pudding found in Malaysia and Singapore.

Joginder’s Supperclub rocks. On both occasions I left the place fulfilled and cheery. And re the second paragraph, certainly no dehydration like I normally would going to an Indian (and for that matter, Chinese) restaurant and that includes Tayyabs. Thoroughly recommended and I shall be keeping an eye on their summer dates! Thank you Ma Rani and thank you Saira, see you again.

*Mum stopped cooking at home when my Dad passed away just before my A level results, she lost heart since.

A £20 contribution is suggested. If you want to be my mate please don't forget to tip. (Honestly Adrian**, how could you forget!)
**Another mate (no longer!) who went on the second night

Joginder’s Supperclub Site


meemalee said...

I'm still reeling at "bum-crushed salt and vinegar crisps" :)

Btw, word verification today is SheRa (princess of power)

bellaphon said...

meemalee- :D

theundergroundrestaurant said...

Lovely write up...will be doing another supperclub round up soon...

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

omnomnom... I am so intrigued by all these underground restaurants/supper-clubs/potlucks... just as I'm leaving London, damn!

bellaphon said...

Emily- Plan a gluttonous weekend in London, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to both restos and supper clubs. Looking forward to meeting you at some point.

Luiz Hara said...

Good write up and the fact that you had good meals on two different occasions is reassuring. I have been thinking of booking @ JG and will now after reading your review. Thanks.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

bellaphon said...

Luiz- Thank you and lovely of you to stop by. Hope you have a great time at JS.