Chef Niku took us on a culinary journey of his love affair of South Indian food

Indian food is popular all over the world and brings spice and flavour to our taste buds. With Indian food becoming ever more and more popular in the UK the question is do we really know the difference between Indian cuisine from North, East, South and West India?

I was surprised though to learn that South Indian cuisine is lacking in the east market of London and thus Chef Niku wanted to showcase about his love of South India by bringing his stories of his travels and their traditional dishes to our plates to show us that it is not that difficult to cook and reproduce within our homes.

I was lucky enough to be invited down on 26 January on a gifted basis by Chef Niku to dine at his sixth supperclub along with another member of Love Pop Ups London to explore his love and his teams love of South Indian food. Plus as this was India Republic Day what a better way that to enjoy a Sunday eating Indian food.

Chef Niku

Nikitesh Jaiswal is a self-trained chef who loves Indian food.

He grew up in Nagpur, India, but moved to the UK in 2012 to study, and then found work in London few years later.

His passion for food has led him to host a number of events for his friends, birthdays, Diwali parties, barbecues, and supperclubs bringing everyone together and making food the integral centrepiece of every occasion.

At any of Chef Niku supperclubs you’ll enjoy culture, flavours, personalities, music and history, all within an intimate atmosphere.

On the night all Chef Niku food is served the way Indian food is meant to be eaten – platters of dishes boasting contrasting yet complementary textures and flavours, all which encourages you to gather and share in the style of the traditional ‘daawat’ (feast).

To him India represents spices, love and comfort.

Yaatra supperclub brings India to London

This January Chef Niku held his latest supperclub at The Little Yellow Door within Notting Hill.

It is the most perfect setting from it’s colour and a great venue to take anyone on a culinary South Indian journey.

Upon heading through the doors of The Little Yellow Door I was warmly welcomed in by April and Tamir.

We were given a welcome drink called Panakam which consisted of Vodka, Jaggery syrup, Cardamon, Ginger and lemon juice which resident mixologist, Derrick Hillman, hand-crafted.

Plus for the event Derrick had produced a menu which consisted of four delicately spiced cocktails / mocktails to order each which are perfectly paired for each course.

Before we sat down to enjoy our cocktail we also grabbed our canape which was beautifully presented in a silver dish.

We then sat down in the lush setting on a comfy colourful sofa and tucked into our Kunukku canape which are fried puffed lentils with rice balls and chutney.

It was delicious, providing a sweet and sour flavour all at the same time with a variety of textures. The fermented fried lentil balls were crunchy with a softness on the inside, the yogurt cooled down the mouth from the spice and the tamarind chutney gave it that extra sweetness with the pomegranates giving it that zing.

Feast of South India

After a short while we was then all ushered downstairs where we was wowed by a beautiful setting ready for a feast of Indian delight and tunes by DJ Ari Houmous who provided for the rest of the night a musical backdrop to our culinary journey.

The team then introduced themselves and we were then to be taken on a journey learning about the five southern states of South India, in which coconuts are abundant and the plentiful water fuels the boundless rice fields and terraces. Plus how our taste buds will be treated to spice and fresh ingredients all which has been sourced from South India.

Temera told us of his and Chef Nikus journey through South India by stories, photos and music which was provided by the DJ. I was surprised to learn that South India is known for it’s vast amount of coconuts. It was also lovely hearing about how most live in wooden boats which consist of a lounge and bedrooms and how they buy most of their food at local markets or fish for their supper.

So pairing all of that together Chef Niku has bought a menu to reflect every aspect of what South Indian people would usually eat on a day to day basis.

To start we was presented Andhra Fish & Chips which is marinated fired cod, coconut chutney, coriander coconut chutney and banana chips.

I loved the marinated fried cod it was a little similar to having British fried fish but served with Indian sauces. However I was not that keen on the banana chips as they were a little too hard for my liking.

Then it was time for our mains. This time though instead of our food served on plates it was to be served on banana leaf which is a traditional way of serving a Thali. Each different component for the meal was introduced through music which was broken down into three different chapters. We clapped the team as they brought around each element of the dish whilst they placed it on our banana leaf’s. However even though this was fun clapping each dish into the dining room and onto our leaf I did feel it went on a little too long and I always seemed to be the last to get everything served onto my banana leaf.

Thali

Looked ever so appetising when it was all served up on the banana leaf.

Before eating we also learned that Thali is traditionally eaten with hands so I tucked in using my fingers and hands.

Yaatra by Chef Niku - eating with hands

The Thali consisted of Kerala lamb curry, Madras sambarm Cabbage thoran, cucumber pachadi, beetroot pachadi, carrot pachadi, popadum, banana chips, chapatri and rice. Each component was delicious with so many spices and flavours. However the lamb for me was delicious full of flavour and spice. For those who were vegetarian they were served a dish made out of Jack Fruit.

To end the night we headed back on upstairs and saw displayed on a long table Payasam which is a red rice pudding which consist of cashews, raisins, coconut and green cardamom plus some traditional South Indian biscuits and fudge were also on display.

The Payasam was lovely just like a rice pudding but with those added South Indian flavours giving it that extra sweetness and crunchiness. The biscuit was also lovey full of nuttiness and caramel flavours and the fudge creamy, sweet and indulgent.

I was taken on a culinary journey to the backwaters of Kerala to the hills of Karnataka and the beaches of Tamil Nadu thanks to Chef Niku and his team.

Before leaving though we were led back downstairs for a dance. With all the tables removed the whole place had now been transformed into an area for dancing.

How to dance the Bharatanatyam

Dancing lesson

As this was a supperclub taught about South India culture we were taught by April and Tamir how to dance a classic Indian dance Bharatanatyam with a swipe of the hand here and a twerk there. Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance which originates from the state of Tamil Nadu.

Verdict

Chef Niku and team really made the whole event an enjoyable one from start to finish.

Yaatra by Chef Niku - Steve, Chef and me

I loved eating and learning about South India via their stories which was accompanied by music bringing noises of South India to us. They certainly inspired me and opened up my eyes of the delights of what South India brings from their photos and knowledge from the history of the regions.

The food was all perfectly executed together with each bite giving much texture and flavour.

I highly recommend Chef Niku supperclub if you are looking for a true insight to the region of Indian culture.

Supperclub with Chef Niku

Embrace the most vibrant of India’s regions with Chef Niku and team at any of their supperclubs!

Discover more chefniku.com and book one of his upcoming events via chefniku.com/events.

Thank you to Chef Niku and co. for having me and another member of Love Pop Ups London down taking us on a South Indian journey. Click below to be redirected to read all our write ups. All our views are of our own honest opinions.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: