The Desi Digest: Hot Indian food finds for October

From gargantuan gourmet goat banquets to Indian high chais, Diwali to Durga Puja, there’s a lot to look forward to before the clocks go back at the end of this month. Dive on in and make every moment count…

The campaign: #Goatober

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Goat meat might be old news to carnivorous Indian cooks, but to many Brits it’s a bit of an unknown quantity. Happily, supplier James Whetlor (founder of Cabrito and The YBFs’ Meat hero) is aiming to change that this month by bringing America’s annual #Goatober campaign across the pond for the first time.

You can get involved wherever you deign to dine. If you’re eating out, check out whether your favourite restaurants, pop-ups and supperclubs are offering a dedicated dish, menu or event – and, if not, urge them to get their goat on. If you’re cooking at home, share the love on social media: whether your goat’s going into keema or a kebab, a biryani or a bhuna, take a snap of your supper and upload it with the hashtag #Goatober.

Date for the diary: 8 October has been deemed as #Goatober’s official BBQ Day – so there’s no better date to get all fired up over the cause.

  • #Goatober runs throughout October. For more information and to get involved, click here

The supperclub: Devi’s Indo-Persia & Beyond

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Tanya Gohil’s enterprise is all about empowerment: funding women’s projects in India with profits earned from serving forth some stunning veggie fare at Maltby Street Market and London-wide pop-ups. At this supperclub, you’ll taste flavours from the Middle East, Ancient Persia and Mughal India, combined into cuisine that’s fit for the very goddesses from which Devi’s draws its name.

What’s on the menu?

Pomegranate Prosecco & sweet-savoury Persian nuts

***

Grilled halloumi with tahini yoghurt, mint, pomegranate & molasses

Beetroot borani (Persian whipped feta & beetroot dip)

Indian smoked aubergine salad

Bhindi masala okra

Batata harra (Crisp spiced potatoes)

Watermelon, feta & mint salad

Mixed flatbreads – za’atar lavash, merguez khobez & tandoori naan

***

Cardamom labneh with mango & pistachio

  • Devi’s ‘Indo-Persia & Beyond’ supperclub costs £29.70pp and takes place at 7.30pm on 7 October. For more information and to book, click here

The festive feast: Darjeeling Express does Durga Puja

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Bengalis know how to party – and how to eat. And, during Durga Puja, there’s a lot of edibles to be enjoyed. The festival celebrates the Hindu Goddess who represents positive feminine energy and power- ‘Durga’ meaning ‘invincible one’.

Some might say that Asma Khan has been channelling the deity during Darjeeling Express’s meteoric rise to fame and, accordingly, the pop-up chef will be in residence at Ealing Town Hall, cooking Calcutta khana for the occasion. The resulting bhog will be available to anyone participating in the puja, with biryani, kati rolls, puchkas, papri chaat, beetroot chops and masala chai also available to purchase.

Psst > If you have as big a sweet tooth as a typical Bong, arrive early – Asma will also offer a limited amount of that sumptuous sweet, steamed yogurt, bhapa doi. 

  • Darjeeling Express will offer bhog for the London Sharad Utsav at Ealing Town Hall from 7-10 October. For more information, click here

    The occasion: National Curry Week

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    If ever you needed an excuse to enjoy Indian food, the 19th annual National Curry Week is it: seven days devoted to the Desification of the dinner table. If you’re eating in, knock up a new recipe or two; or, if that sounds too much like hard work, look out for promoted products in the supermarket. If you’re dining out, participating restaurants will be looking to entice you with spice by rustling up all sorts of specials, whilst themed events include The Soldier’s Charity’s Big Curry Party in Salisbury.

    Kitchen inspo: Try the Indian recipes Asma Khan, Mallika Basu, Meera Sodha & Maunika Gowardhan shared with Good Things magazine here

  • National Curry Week takes place from 10-16 October. For more information on how to get involved, click here

The knowledge: The Gutsy Chutney Food & Wine Pairing

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Try it at home: Soul Tree’s Indian wines are splendid with spice. View the range here
  •  The Gutsy Chutney’s Food & Wine Pairing takes place at 7pm on 15 October at The Grosvenor Arms. For more information and to book, click here

The celebration: Diwali at Gunpowder

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Forget firecrackers: expect nothing less than fireworks with Gunpowder’s explosive lamb-centric menu, conceived for the Hindu festival which marks the triumph of good over evil; light over darkness. Alongside the multi-course meal, particularly potent cocktails like Pani Puri Margaritas and Bow Barracks Gimlets will help the celebrations go with a bang.

On the menu…

Masala & whiskey bone marrow

Maa’s Kashmiri lamb chops

Minced lamb & pea doughnut

Bheja fry

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Cardamom Rice Kheer with Salted Caramel

Sutarfeni

  • Gunpowder’s Diwali Lamb Feast costs £35pp and takes place on 19 October. For more information and to book, click here

The twist on tradition: Maharani Chai at Darbaar

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The afternoon tea trend train shows no sigh of slowing down anytime soon; and now Abdul Yaseen has hopped aboard with his signature ‘Queen Tea’. The menu is a right royal agglomeration of Desi delicacies and Brit bits – think kathi rolls, shami kebabs and gajar halwa samosas alongside Valrhona chocolate chilli cake and wood-fired bread with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Don’t worry about weight gain – with the onset of autumn and the temperature dropping, any extra pounds will keep you wonderfully warm.

Drink up! Choose from Gunpowder, Earl Grey, Camomile, Fresh Mint or Masala teas

  • The Maharani Chai costs £25pp and is available from 3-5pm daily at Darbaar by Abdul. For more information and to book, click here

The tour: Secret Indian Food Tour

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Think you know Brick Lane? Think again – this culture trip will reveal a side you never knew. Numerous opportunities to indulge in authentic Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi food will see your appetite sated and your interest piqued; expect savoury snacks, sweet treats, and everything between – with surprise dishes revealed en route. What’s more, an expert South Asian supermarket tour will ensure you can shop with serious savvy.

  • Three-hour Secret Indian Food Tours take place Tuesdays-Fridays from 7pm and Saturdays from 5pm. For more information and to book, click here

The restaurant rumour: Tandoor Chop House

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Info on this ‘late 2016’ opening is scanty but tantalising: from the Ennismore group (responsible for establishments of quality including Egg Break and The Hoxton Hotel) comes a Covent Garden chop house. Taking up residence on Adelaide Street with an esteemed neighbour in the form of Barrafina, it’s set to be a meaty treat for anyone enticed by spice.

The product: Playful Indian Temporary tattoos

playful-indian-temporary-tattoos-dina-thanki-indian-food-designs

I’m a sucker for a temporary tattoo or two (or three, or four, or a full sleeve…) so Dina Thanki’s colourful cartoon designs are right up my alley. What’s more, the majority of them feature anthropomorphic foodstuffs – from the spicy (chillis and samosas) through to the sweet (laddoos and jalebis).

  • Playful Indian temporary tattoos cost £2.50 for a pack of 10. For more information and to order, click here

The cookbook: Monisha Bharadwaj’s ‘The Indian Cookery Course’

the-indian-cookery-course-monisha-bharadwaj-cookbook-kyle-books

If you’re not already familiar with Monisha Bharadwaj, think an Indian answer to Sophia Loren crossed with Nigella Lawson: graceful, elegant, and a damn fine cook to boot. What’s more, she’s supremely skilled at transferring her vast culinary knowledge to willing apprentices; be that in the flesh during cooking sessions or Southall food walks, or via the prose on the pages of her cookbooks. Monisha’s latest tome opens up regional cuisine to the masses with tempting recipes, solid explanations, and clear methods. As is always the case for this author, ‘authenticity’ and ‘accessibility’ are key.

‘The Indian Cookery Course’ by Monisha Bharadwaj is published on 15 October by Kyle Books, RRP £30. For more information and to order, click here

  • To read more about Darjeeling Express, click here
  • To read more about Bengali cuisine, click here
  • To read more about Gunpowder, click here
  • To read more about hosting your own Indian-style afternoon tea, click here 
  • To read more about Bangladeshi Brick Lane, click here and here

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