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Isn't great to eat out with a group of friends? But how about eating out with a group of strangers? No problem. Especially if the strangers share your love of food and soon they are not strangers at all.
There were nine of us "strangers" at the Annam Supper Club in Douglas the other evening and it turned out be a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. The Indian food was cooked and served by Banu and Ruth who run the supper club and its associated Cookery School.
We introduced ourselves and the ice was soon broken — the gorgeous Mango Tango cocktail (mango with vodka and more!) was undoubtedly a help — and soon we were telling about food experiences, all the while nibbling from the bowls of Turmeric popcorn.
It is also a BYOB club, so we were soon indulging in our favourites tipples, mainly beers and wines. I had stopped at the Cotton Ball on the way and picked up a few bottles of their own Indian Summer and, though the Indian in the title had little to do with the country, the beer paired quite well with the various dishes.
Starter was a delicious delight. It was Vadai Thengai Chutney and that translates into Deep Fried lentil dumplings served with a coconut chutney. We slathered on the chutney, under advice from Banu, and used our fingers to speed the dispatch of the tasty dumplings.
On then to a very impressive main course indeed, quite a few elements here. The main part was Chicken Biryani with three supporting dishes in Yennai Kathirikkai, Salna and Vengalya pachadi. Many of you will have come across Biryani, basically rice cooked with spices and meat.
Biryani and friends!
There are many different kinds of Biryani and you may read about the main ones here. This particular version though is Banu’s signature dish.
The Yennai Kathirikkai is Aubergines in a spicy tangy sauce, Salna ( a traditional accompaniment to Biriyani; ours was a light curry sauce with some lamb pieces) and Vengalya pachadi (a cooling onion raita). The trick here is not to eat any element in isolation. Mix and match the textures, the flavours, the heat and the coolness. Superb!
The dessert was another delight, served in a small earthenware pot. It was named Badam Kheer, an almond saffron milk pudding. Loved every little bit of it. Then we slowly sipped the rest of drinks and finished the various conversations before saying goodbye to these friendly strangers!
The club is run by Banu and Ruth and the cooking veers "towards South Indian most of the time with inspiration from Chennai a good deal". Why? Because Banu is from Chennai and she can best cook and teach the food she knows best.
And Banu is not the only one with a high regard for her area. Food in Chennai is very popular and rather unique. The city regularly features in top ten food lists by major publishers such as Lonely Planet, National Geographic and the BBC’s travel section. More details on the city and its food here.
Ruth and Ban are busy girls. Their next event, a mix of movies and food, is coming up this Friday at the Beggarman and you can see the details here. Their next Supper Club is on Friday April 17th. You’ll get all the details, plus info on cookery courses, on their Facebook page.
Banu and Ruth, of theSouth Indian Supper Club, have been in touch to tell me they "have lots of events and evenings planned for the next few months that hopefully some of you will be able to attend".
"Our supper clubs are going from strength to strength. We had our last one on Saturday night in Banu's house. It was fully booked and all had a great time! The dates for the next evenings are:
12th April - Saturday
3rd May - Saturday
14th June - Saturday
These events cost €35 for 3 courses plus a welcome cocktail and are lots of fun and very sociable! Please contact us for details (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our Indian cookery classes, which are proving a huge hit, are running on Monday evenings, and are held in the Cookery Cottage on South Douglas road. They run from 7-9pm and cost €25 for 2 hours. A 4 week cookery class will also be commencing on the 9th of May. This will cost €99. Banu will be teaching a range of Indian cusines during this class. Please contact us for more details. Also please do not forget to mention 48 hours prior to attending if you have been to any other of our classes so that we can make sure recipes aren't repeated.
We are also now offering event catering. In conjunction with Lishh catering in Turner's Cross we are able to provide home cooked, tasty, authentic Indian food for your parties and events! Please spread the word!
We have also attached a recipe for you to have a go at at home. Let us know how you get on."
Spicy Potatoes South Indian Style
4 large potatoes
1 tbsp. oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1/4th tsp asafoetida powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ to 1 tsp red chili powder
Peel and cube potatoes
Cook in boiling water until soft
In a frying pan, heat oil
Crackle the mustard seeds
Take off the heat
Add all the spice powders with the salt
Add potatoes and coat well in the spiced oil
Place the potatoes on a baking tray or an over proof dish
Bake in preheated oven at 200 C for 3- to 40 mins until
crisp and golden
Annam - From my kitchen to yours. (authentic taste of south India)
Ruth was in touch recently to tell me all about Annam - From my kitchen to yours.
“We are two friends (one Indian, one Irish) who have been running supper clubs and cookery classes in Cork for over six months now. We are attempting to introduce a really authentic taste of south Indian to the people of Ireland. There's no vindaloos or lamb baltis on our menus! We even encourage people to eat the Indian way - with their hands! If people are interested to find out about Idly, dosa, chicken chettanad, chutney and lots of different types of food and spices then we're here to help!
We run our supper club on the second Friday of every month and our cookery class on the fourth Friday of the month at the Cookery Cottage on the South Douglas road. So far we have had a huge response what we are doing. We have had people from all over Cork attend our evenings, which are very social, everyone eats together and are positively encouraged to bring a bottle of their fancy while cooking and eating.
We would like to say a huge thanks to you all for your support in getting Annam off the ground over the last 9 months! It has been so inspiring and encouraging to have you at our supper clubs and cookery classes and we've learnt tons. We've had great fun doing them and we really hope you've enjoyed attending. We hope that we offer something a little different with our experience in that it's a very social evening but you also get the chance to learn too!”
Here are the up and coming events for October, November and December.
Friday 25th October 7pm - Cookery Class - Cookery cottage
A south Indian theme this time. As usual a cocktail served with vegetable bhajis and coconut chutney. You will also be given a short demo followed by hands on workshop:
Crispy Potato fry
Green Beans Poriyal
We will have a sit down meal at the end so please bring a bottle of whatever you like!
Cost - €40 BYOB
Saturday 2nd November - Diwali celebration - Cork cricket club
Annam is running a street food stall in the Cork Cricket club as a part of the Diwali Lights installation by the Cork Community Art Link and Cork Indian Summer. Come for the fabulous food and the lights 2.30 to 5.30 pm. More information at https://www.facebook.com/corkindiansummer.
Friday 15th November 7pm - Supper Club - At home with Annam
We will serve you a 3 course authentic Indian meal with a cocktail on arrival and tea or coffee to finish. Menu to follow. Due to very positive feedback we have decided to run the next few supper clubs from our chef Banu's home. We feel our supper club is more suited to an intimate, homely environment!
Cost - €35 BYOB.
Friday 29th November 12.30-2.20pm- Charity lunch - Cookery cottage
Annam is hosting an Indian Lunch in aid of Pralayashema which is a small Charity operating in the East Coast of India in Tamil Nadu. Come and eat our fabulous food and donate to a good cause. Your money will go towards buying school supplies for some very underprivileged children who would not get to go to school if not for Charities like Parlayashema. Their members travel to these very rural areas to give the school supplies like uniforms, books, stationary etc to the families.
Friday 6th December 7pm - Cookery class - Cookery cottage
Fancy a Christmas party with a difference? Cook up a storm with your friends or colleagues at our Indian cookery class. Enjoy the labours of your hard work at the end with a few drinks! Menu to follow.
Cost - €40 BYOB
Places are limited so please get in touch as soon as possible to book your place. If you're at the cricket club for Diwali be sure to swing by and say hey!