Little Kolkata supperclub – Bengali home cooking at its finest
When it comes to your own culture and cuisine, it is very difficult for a restaurant to measure up to your standards. And whilst I do not proclaim to be an expert on Bengali food, one thing I know for sure is that my Bengali mother’s food is the real deal. And as much as I love Darjeeling Express, the dishes boast a bit of fusion and are different than those I grew up eating, and when I visited Calcutta Street recently, Mummy Swindian and I were a little disappointed. So when Prabir invited me to his Bengali supperclub, cutely named Little Kolkata, I hoped it would give me those dishes that define Bengali cuisine for me. And boy, did he deliver, and then some!
The supperclub happened to fall on London’s ‘snow day’ – there was about 5cm of snow, and of course, the city had a mass freakout. But I was determined not to be defeated, and so I laced up my hiking boots and headed out, despite the ‘delays on all tube lines’. And as soon as I entered, I was welcomed with smiles, warmth, and enough food and drink for an army!
Prabir had clearly put his heart and soul into the cooking, as he had been preparing everything for about three days, and I was amazed at how professional everything was. Compared to my most recent supperclub, it was impeccably organised, and the presentation matched the delicious food, with the bhel puri twisted into a pappadum cone!
We started off with a cocktail of Prabir’s own invention, a rhubarb/ginger/lime bellini, and I simply couldn’t get enough of it (I had 3? 4? Who’s counting??).
And as for the rest of the food… Oh my goodness. The fish cutlet oozed mascarpone cheese, which was a bit unexpected, but I loved it. I cannot imagine the technicalities involved in making sure nothing is under or overcooked, and the crisp lotus root was a crunchy delight.
The Aloo Dum (potato) was supremely flavourful, and it was served with luchis, which are only my favourite fried thing ever. I even took a peek into the kitchen and saw how they were being made… and they were just like home. The chef winked and said ‘it’s because we use maida (flour) from India, madam’. My belly was already full, but when more came around, my heart defeated my mind and I reached for more without the slightest hesitation.
This was followed up by mustard fish, which Prabir told us he was nervous about serving, as non-Indians may have found the flavours a bit too strong. I’m so glad he didn’t tone it down, as that the mustard shot up my nose and through my brain, making me just ecstatic to be alive. I wasn’t a huge fan of the rice served alongside, as I always prefer good old Basmati with Indian food, rather than the mixture of brown and wild rice, but the flavours of the fish more than made up for it.
And then came the piece de resistance: The kosha mangsho (meat curry). In my life, I’ve eaten this dish hundreds, if not thousands of times, with my mother’s version always taking the prime spot, but Prabir’s is an incredibly close second. It was, dare I say it, better than Darjeeling Express, and the meat absolutely melted in the mouth. It’s hard to describe the flavour when you haven’t had it before, so all I can say is: pay Prabir a visit as soon as you possibly can. He had the cheek to tell us that the one he’d made for us wasn’t his best, which is extremely hard to believe!
And the parathas? They were just perfect. Lovely and soft and perfect for mopping up the curry, where most parathas in London have been lacking (*cough* Pure Indian *cough*).
And then we got to the dessert… which is something I normally skip at Indian restaurants. But Prabir shone through yet again, as the malai was bursting with a lovely nutty flavour, and wasn’t too sweet. I’ll admit that I prefer the sandesh I get in India, but I’ll let him off the hook on that one!
I’ve been to a few supperclubs before (read more about them here), and this one had a wonderful homey vibe, despite not actually being in somebody’s home, but rather a small restaurant. My friend and I talked to a variety of people there, and the clientele ranged from friends to couples to small children. We always felt taken care of, as we were constantly offered more of everything – Prabir’s motto of unlimited food and drink was definitely adhered to! And their cute little goodie bag at the end was just the icing on the cake.
Little Kolkata holds supperclubs every couple of months – do check their website for details.
I was a guest at Little Kolkata, but all views, especially those on kosha mangsho, are entirely my own.