A Monsoon Fusion of Friendship & Food- (Supper)clubbing with Pukka Paki & Absolute Indian

Tonight, I’ve swapped being a guest at the table for being the host. Well, one of them- basically playing go-between for Sumayya and Sheba and the tables of hungry diners ready to devour their Monsoon Fusion feast. I’m tasked with greeting guests with a glass of the duo’s ‘secret recipe’ cocktail, delivering the ever-welcome khatta-meetha- savoury and sweet- taste combination and a pretty potent punch.

Ice more than broken, the girls embark on nigh-on three hours of spicing, tadka-ing and dhuanaar-ing, much to our collective nasal delight. Sumayya and Sheba- Pukka Paki and Absolute Indian respectively- dreamt up Monsoon Fusion as their first culinary collaboration, leading to an intriguing and carefully considered menu of Keralan and Pakistani cuisine. The supperclub may be in aid of Action Against Hunger, but it’s clear no-one here will be going home less-than replete.

The hardest part of this waitressing lark is delivering the plates intact when I’d quite like to get stuck in myself. Still, duty calls, so it’s pasty-like Kerala beef puffs and potato-and-channa patties served in ghee-fried baps all round, dunked lasciviously into the essential saucer of fresh green chutney. Tonight, Sumayya’s chosen to go with Northern Pakistani dishes, their lightness and fragrance an apt match for Keralan cuisine.

That aromatic Persian influence is particularly evident in her Sajii roasted chicken- where that ‘dhuanaar’ process of adding a glowing chunk of coal to a closed pot comes into its own, imparting a delicious smokiness to the pomegranate, fennel, cinnamon and rose flavours of the meat. It’s complemented by a thin daal soured with tamarind, each bowl individually tadka-ed with spiced oil poured from a tiny frying pan Sumayya’s set over a portable hob.

Meanwhile, Sheba’s busy adding hearty hunks of halibut to a panful of coconut-based gravy littered with black kokum pieces- the alien shapes of which fascinate diners, although she’s quick to disavow them of the notion they might make for tasty nibbling. The fish, though, most certainly does- that gravy ladled copiously over roasted-daal-and-peanut-enhanced Kerala-style lemon rice.

Much as I love seeing people savour a good spread, I’m tempted to divert Sheba’s ethakya thoran- a dry-fry of green banana and coconut- to my own plate. But I’m already doing second rounds with the woven basket of Sumayya’s homemade naan, and this group show no sign of stopping. Thankfully, the promising description of dessert allows for a certain level of self-control, allowing me to wolf a juicy chicken leg and snatch a taste of all the dishes I feared I’d miss entirely.

And when pud comes out, that self-control is rewarded- making for a clean sweep of even cleaner plates. Sheba’s paid homage to Kerala’s most beloved crop once again, frying up a batch of sweet coconut samosas jazzed up with almonds and lime. Sumayya’s gone all frosty on us, opting to serve a fig, honey and pistachio kulfi with tiny, delicate rose agar jellies. And-joy!- they’ve saved a full helping for me.

One problem with a supperclub is getting people to leave. That same thing is also one of the best gauges as to the success of your evening, though- and this lot are in no rush to go anywhere, lingering over sweet paan and sweet contemplation of a right good feed. And when I collect up the envelopes holding Action Against Hunger-bound donations, the wodge is reassuringly fat. Pakistan and Kerala- who’d have thunk it? But in this case, it’s a successful friendship both in the kitchen and on the plate.

Action Against Hunger are also organising The Diwali Banquet , taking place at 6pm on Sunday 18th November at The Cinnamon Kitchen, 9 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YL. For more information on the event, see my Foodepedia article

Sumayya Jamil and Sheba Promod host supperclubs and teach cookery classes. For more information on Sumayya, see Pukka Paki. For Sheba’s details, visit Absolute Indian

All pictures by food and travel photographer Jo Yee. For more of her images see Candids by Jo

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6 responses to “A Monsoon Fusion of Friendship & Food- (Supper)clubbing with Pukka Paki & Absolute Indian

  1. A lovely write up Zoe and its nice to see how it comes through on the ‘other’ side of the kitchen so to speak. Thanks for everything you did as front of house! Much appreciated. :))

    Like

  2. Pingback: An Indian Valentine’s Menu: romance to rival the Ramayana « The Spice Scribe·

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